15 Best Apartment Patio Ideas for Your Small Outdoor Space

Updated August 31, 2020
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Your balcony can be one of the most underutilized spaces in your apartment. It can be so much more than just a small two-person dining table and chairs. You can treat it more like an extension of your living space to the outdoors. Even if your balcony is small, you can do that can give it the illusion that it’s bigger while also making it your own outdoor oasis. Here are some apartment patio ideas to utilize your small spaces!  Of course, with all the following ideas, it’s best to refer to your lease or talk to management to make sure your changes are allowed.

Home terrace with wooden floor and chair with a view; apartment patio ideas

15 Apartment Patio Ideas

1. Beautiful Rugs Can Enlarge Your Outdoor Space

A beautiful outdoor rug, or a few rugs, can give the illusion that your space is much bigger than it actually is. Particularly a patterned or striped rug can help draw the eye out towards the edges making the floor seem bigger. Only use outdoor rugs that are made of synthetic material like polypropylene as they will be more resistant to rain and can be easily cleaned off with soap and water. Putting an indoor rug outside can ruin the fabric, grow mold, or even ruin your balcony floor. You can find some great outdoor rugs online or at your local hardware store.

2. Install Fake Grass

Installing artificial grass on your balcony or outdoor spaces can be a fun way to make yourself a little “yard” oasis. It can be really easy to cut to size, plus you can still put your furniture and rugs on top. If you live in a big city and don’t want to venture to the park, you can have your very own “grass” to walk around on right outside your door.

3. Hang Outdoor Curtains or Sun Shades

For a little added privacy or some relief from the sun’s heat, you can install sun shades or outdoor curtains. Similar to outdoor rugs, curtains can be made of a material that will be water-resistant and safe to put out in the elements. Sunshades are a great way to get some privacy on your balcony without losing the view. If you are unable to install anything on the balcony, one workaround is zip-tying your sun shades to your balcony posts. They won’t be as functional, but you can still get the privacy and some shade from the sun.

4. Install a Living Wall

A living wall is essentially a wall of plants. They can be real or fake, installed inside or outside, and include pots or not. Having a living wall on your balcony can be a fantastic way to get extra privacy on either side of your space. You can put up a trellis using zip ties or another method of securing it to the railing. Purchase some potted vine plants that will crawl their way up, creating a living wall on their own. Or, you can purchase some fake vine plants or succulents to build out your own living wall. Either way, have fun with it! It will be a beautiful lush paradise right outside your sliding door.

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Artificial garden green small plants and flower in flowerpots on a wooden shelf decoration. The beautiful garden with ferns and flowers; apartment patio ideas

5. Create Privacy with Hanging Plants

Hanging plants can give a similar effect, without the trouble of installing a living wall or trellis. Your local hardware store or greenhouse should have beautiful, full-hanging planters with long vines that hang down and shield you a little bit for added privacy. Plus, it’s fun to switch out your hanging planters with the seasons if you like to change things up.

6. Multi-Functional Storage Benches

For added storage without losing functionality, utilize storage benches for your balcony. Outdoor Furniture can be used to store things like pillows or seat cushions overnight, while also creating a perfect place to seat yourself and read a book or have guests over. If you can find yourself a bench that is also attached to a tall shelving unit or slats, you can set the bench at the far end of your balcony and hang plants or string lights from the back for a private little nook.

7. Daybed or Floor Pillows

If you have space or not, building a comfy daybed on your balcony can be the perfect place to spend your summer evenings. You can purchase gorgeous outdoor daybeds, or make your own using pallets and water-proof cushions. A cozy daybed with an excess of pillows, a canopy, and some string lights can transform your balcony into the hang-out spot you always dreamed of. Make sure you purchase outdoor cushions and pillows, so even if it rains, your furnishings will be safe and can air dry with ease.

apartment patio with daybed and outdoor plants; apartment patio ideas

8. Use Mosquito Nets for Bug-Free Evenings

Everyone jokes that the state bird of Minnesota is the mosquito—not really but might as well be. So if you live near a lake or wooded area, nights out on the balcony can be a bit buggy. Citronella candles can work wonders, but even then, they can be an unwelcome distraction. So if you have your cute daybed set up or even a little seating area, you can style a mosquito net to be a part of the design. Canopy-style mosquito nets hung from the ceiling of your balcony and dropped down can improve any evening. You can even buy mosquito nets with built-in lights.

9. Make a Little Reading Nook

You don’t need a ton of room to make a cozy reading nook. All you need is a space for a comfy chair, some mood lighting, and maybe a place to put your feet up. The corner daybed is one option, or get your most comfortable outdoor chair, a little water-proof ottoman, and some cute decor. Lanterns filled with string lights or battery-powered candles can make a beautiful ambiance for an early evening read. Add some sculptures or a serene tapestry to bring a calming vibe to your little oasis.

Woman relaxing on cozy balcony, reading a book; apartment patio ideas

10. Create an Outdoor Dining Space

A lot of people will utilize their balconies for outdoor dining. One easy way to accomplish this is with a small two-person table that fits just perfectly in your small space. Spruce it up with some plants and comfy seat cushions. You can also make bar seating instead of a small dining set using a narrow sofa table butted up against the railing, with some charming short bar stools or chairs that can slide under and out of the way. Even a nice bench seat can be perfect, and you can still have plenty of room to hang out when you aren’t using your “bar” table.

11. Get a Solar Fountain for Some Tranquility

We all want that dream backyard that has a waterfall and pond with coy fish, right? Well, you can imitate that on a smaller scale for some tranquility and drown out some of the city noise. A solar fountain can help facilitate a peaceful area to meditate, read, or just reflect.

12. Build Your Own Little Vegetable Garden

Even with a tiny patio, you can grow a few little plants and herbs to make some homemade salsa or some delicious salads. Obviously, it depends on the direction and length of sunlight your balcony receives, but you can generally grow a few things. Herbs like full to partial sun, so keeping them in a sunny window, or a sunny spot on the balcony can help them grow. Some vegetables that thrive in more shade include greens and root vegetables. But for the most part, you’ll probably have luck growing any of the following:

  • Most types of leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach)
  • Cucumbers & Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (bell, jalapeno, serrano)
  • Radishes
  • Green Onions
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley

A young blonde woman is planting a vertical tower garden with herbs and vegetables on her urban apartment patio, in the early spring. She is holding a watering can, ready for gardening season; apartment patio ideas

13. Build a Custom Bench for More Seating

If a store-bought bench is not suiting your needs or the size of your balcony, consider making your own! You can easily create a bench with some cinder blocks and 2 x 4 wood, plus some plywood and seat cushions. Doing it this way, you can size your bench to fit precisely the length or width of your balcony. Measure the length of your balcony, and get some 2 x 4s to match the length. Determine how many cinder blocks you need to get the desired length, height, and width of your bench, and there you go! If you want extra support, place some plywood cut to fit on top, underneath your outdoor cushions. There, you have a custom bench on a budget! A little bit of extra seating in a small outdoor space goes a long way!

14. Get a Comfy Outdoor Sofa

If you want the convenience of purchasing an outdoor sofa for your balcony, places like IKEA and Wayfair offer a wide array of sofas and sectionals that can easily configure to your space. Some sofas come in sections, and you could have a small loveseat or sofa one day, and then divide it into separate chairs or even make a day bed out of it.

15. Use it as an Outdoor Yoga Studio

When you combine your beautiful rug, coffee table, some privacy plants, a solar fountain, and some comfy floor pillows, you already have a very serene space that you can use as your outdoor yoga studio. A few elements to make it even more perfect for meditation namaste-ing include some figurines and statues, some calming chimes, and some oil diffusers. Bring some yogi elements to your own little outdoor space so you can find peace of mind and relaxation just one step outside of your living room.

Of course, the options are endless when it comes to creating your outdoor oasis. You could pick a theme like a Japanese garden or a Bohemian Chic sanctuary for your balcony, or keep it simple with a little bench and a small garden. No matter what design you choose, know that the balcony is a highly underutilized space. Make sure you bring a splash of creativity to that space as well! You’ll be happy you did.

college student working on outside on her laptop; apartment patio ideas

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