Transform your outside space

How to transform your balcony into a relaxing retreat

Even the tiniest sliver of balcony space can become a welcoming garden oasis — all it takes is a bit of creativity. Here, Nick Acaster, Managing Director of Rugs Direct, shares his tips for transforming your balcony and designing an inviting summer balcony. 

Now that the summer is here, many of us will be hoping to spend as much time as possible out soaking up the sun. So, if you’re lucky enough to have any outside space — no matter how small — then it’s only sensible to make the most of it. Even the most compact balcony area can be transformed into a charming area for relaxing, dining, or entertaining, and with several more weeks of warm weather and long evenings to look forward, now is a great time to give it a bit of TLC. Here, I’ll explain how you can turn your balcony into an inviting garden retreat where you can kick back all summer long. 

Pick a theme and colour scheme 

Just like any other room in your home, your balcony should have a theme and colour palette. This will dictate everything from the style of furniture you choose to the kind of plants you have, so it’s important to make your mind up about this at the outset. 

One approach which often works well in an outside space is to draw inspiration from popular holiday hotspots. You could go for a blue and white, Mediterranean-inspired terrace theme that will transport you to a Greek coastal town, or a lush jungle-themed balcony. Or, you could use a Moroccan theme, complete with Berber textiles, bright colours, and ornate patterns. Whatever you decide to do, just be consistent with it, or your space will look messy and disjointed. 

Use textiles and soft furnishing to transform your balcony into a cosy space 

Thought textiles and soft furnishings were just for interiors? Think again! Adding some rugs, blankets, cushions, and other fabric pieces to your balcony can really make the space feel more welcoming. Plus, if your balcony benefits from a covered roof, then you can often leave outdoor furnishings outside without worrying about the weather. So, consider adding some comfy, weather-resistant cushions and maybe even a floor cushion or bean bag to your balcony. Outdoor rugs will also add colour, style, and a soft and cosy feel underfoot. 


Your balcony won’t be complete without some comfortable seating options for dining and relaxing. The style of your seating will depend on how much space you have to work with: if you have a larger balcony, I’d recommend going for sofa-style seating, arranged around a table for dining. If space is at a premium, then a folding bistro set might be a better option, as these can be stowed away if you need extra room for entertaining or for the kids to play. 

Add ambience with lighting 

You want your balcony to be a relaxing and inviting space as dusk falls, so consider adding some ambient lighting. Fairy lights add instant atmosphere to almost any space: try winding them around your balcony railings or stringing them around the edge of a doorway. Just be careful not to overdo it with lighting — in a small space like a balcony, less is more. So, I’d recommend sticking to one or two strings of fairy lights. Lastly, be sure to add a tealight holder or a lantern or two to add a flickering, romantic glow. 

Add greenery and plants (and save space) 

Or course, no summer garden would ever be complete without the addition of a bit of greenery, so you’ll want to finish by adding some plants. There are garden centres all over the UK or you can try an online plant subscription. Naturally, on a balcony, you’re going be working with limited floor space. So, the best option is to build your garden upwards using vertical planting solutions. For instance, could you add some shelving, so you can stack your pots and planters? Or could you use hanging baskets to add greenery to a corner with limited floorspace? Balcony planters that hang off your railings or fencing can be very effective, especially if you fill them with colourful trailing plants or flowers.  Think creatively and try to use every inch of space.

If you don’t have a green thumb, or just don’t want the hassle of caring for plants, then you can always go for artificial options. This is a great solution if you only get a limited amount of sunlight on your balcony, as living plants might struggle without enough direct sunshine. These days, it’s possible to buy incredibly realistic artificial plants that look just like the real deal, so you won’t even know the difference. If you want to add greenery and privacy in one go, you could consider adding some extendable faux-hedging to your balcony railings. 

There are still weeks of blue skies and sunshine ahead, so now is the perfect time to give transform your balcony. Take my tips on board to design an inviting outside area that you’ll love to relax all summer long.