Outdoor Decorating for Renters: Balcony Design Essentials

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As most people rent apartments – and not houses boasting a lavish lawn, a pond, and a white picket-fence – there are not too many outdoor decorating options. Still, a balcony (or a terrace, if you’re lucky) can also be turned into an awesome outdoor project, with a bit of know-how and good taste. Luckily, there are many design inspiration posts and pictures to browse while you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do in your own home. It’s a great way to spend time, but as a renter, you must know there are extra challenges to face when it comes to decorating.

Certain rental communities will have different rules about what people can or cannot do in their apartments. However, it’s not impossible to get creative and decorate in style, even if you’re a renter! Read on for a list of balcony accessories and outdoor design essentials any renter should know about. You’ll quickly transform your small balcony into one that catches your eye, even if you’re on a strict budget:

Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets on the balcony

Rental spaces are typically small, so you probably don’t have much storage room to keep extra stuff in. Wooden pallets are rather large, but they’re worth going out to the local hardware store to pick up. Just a couple stacked on top of each other can make a great place to sit on your balcony.

They also work as a shelf or table top if they’re stacked, and when you move, they work as a tray to help carry out all the little items you’ll find leftover once you’ve used up all your boxes. They’re an excellent way to create sitting or storage space outside since they’re reusable and weather proof.

Hanging or Potted Plants

Plants on the balcony

If you take e a walk around your rental apartment complex, you’ll probably see lots of plants on other people’s balconies. Plants are an easy way to bring life to a space, no matter how small it is. Your balcony may have come with hooks already installed for hanging plants and if not, potted plants are also a great option.

While you may not be able to change things as far as common property landscaping goes, choosing an apartment within a complex that focuses on creating an amazing outdoor design will have a positive effect on you . Choose balcony plants that go well with the overall landscaping design of your community, by matching flower colors or plant types. It’ll help make your rental space feel more like home and fit in with the complex.

Decorative Fencing

Bamboo Fence for the Balcony

Every balcony will already have fencing installed, but it’s typically the boring metal bars that have no life or creativity. You are also limited because you can’t switch it out with a fencing of your choice. Lots of renters choose to put up decorative fencing and zip tie it to the balcony bars.

Decorative fencing is great for a couple of reasons. First, it helps personalize your balcony space. It also creates new ways to spend time on your balcony. The fencing you put up against the balcony bars can create smaller gaps for tiny pets to jump through, so you can spend time outside with your favorite furry friends without having to have them on a leash or in a crate. Or it can give you privacy when you’re relaxing, sleeping, or reading outside.

String Lights

String of lights on a balcony

Outdoor lighting is essential if you’re going to spend time outdoors. For most of the year, the sun sets soon after most people get home from work or school. If you don’t have lighting outside, you won’t want to spend time on your balcony or even design anything on it.

Most balconies are equipped with a single lightbulb in the middle of the ceiling, and some don’t even have that. Since you can’t drill new lighting or swap out the fixture that was there when you moved in, investigate string lights.

These romantic sparkles come in lots of different designs and are even seasonal. You can get red, white, and blue themed ones for the summer, orange ones for Halloween, and then green and red lights for the holiday season. Get them in single bulbs, stringed icicle designs, or in fun shapes. Look around online to see what you can find and go with one that will light up both your heart and your balcony space.

Dual Purpose Furniture

Furniture for the balcony

You might be looking to turn your balcony into a lounge space, but that’s a major struggle with balconies that have very little space to begin with. Your best bet will be to stick with dual purpose furniture. You can find a bench seating that opens into a storage space to get the most use out of what you keep outside. Some chairs will have things like drink holders in them or you can stack them, to put them out of your way when you don’t use them.

Another must-have is weather proof furniture. Outdoor furniture comes in endless designs and colors, so they’ll be able to pick something that matches perfectly with your indoor space. This way, you just take what you need outside when you’re ready to watch the sun set. It’ll cost less than buying two types of furniture and result in more free space.

Renters can still create wonderful spaces even with some limitations. For balconies especially, there are accessories and even some essentials that you can work with to get the small space you’ve been dreaming of. Check out furniture that has dual purpose, or learn how to grow plants to bring life to your balcony. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’ll love spending time on your new balcony once you’re done!

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Nicky is a Senior Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at nicky.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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