How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

How I turned my balcony into an urban oasis — step by (easy) step.


Final Touches

At night, lighting makes the mood. So skip the super-bright lamps and string up these lights throughout (they have pearl white bulbs, attach easily with little green hooks, and the wire is green so it blends in). Next, put them on a remote control so you can easily turn them on and off, even from 50 feet away.

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

Me, reading and enjoying the summer weather on my balcony, with my cats

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

My hubby, Mike, reading in our one-person hammock

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

We put up the ceiling tiles in about an hour. Easy peasy!

Add these styrofoam ceiling tiles (which are safe if they fall off) to the ceiling of your balcony to make it look extra glam. They look like Parisian-style metal ceiling tiles, but weigh next to nothing and stick on with this outdoor sealant. Grab a pair of bluetooth outdoor rock speakers which, yup – you guessed it – look like a rock. The canyon sandstone goes perfectly with a balcony already decked out with a lot of plants.

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

Bunny and squirrel sculptures / doorstops

And if you need a doorstop, to keep your patio door open (or just want to glam up your space), we love this bunny sculpture and this squirrel one. We also use these pretty trays to put our cups on.

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

Birdfeeder and green leafy railing stand / hooks

We also had this bird feeder for a while (but soon discovered that cats + birds don’t mix well). We used a green, leafy metal stand to attach it to the railing and let it hang over the balcony (so the seeds didn’t end up on our grass). We had another feeder with water, that hung on the inside hook. Took us a while to find the right food to attract the little songbirds, but when we did it was absolute heaven hearing the birds chirping, and watching them interact.

How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary

Screen to keep the bugs out

We also glued (with a tube of outdoor adhesive) plastic bird spikes along the top of the railing partly so that we could make sure the cats don’t go over (although, after a couple of very close calls, we decided not to let them outside unmonitored anymore), and partly to string faux vine through it. And finallllllyyyy, my last tip is this: Get this curtain-style screen door, because nobody wants flies and mosquitos in their apartment. It’s $35 and attaches with velcro. It’s magnetic in the middle, so you can just push through while double-fisting (with a tall glass of… water… in the other hand, of course!)

The only thing limiting the possibilities for a patio sanctuary is your imagination. The time and money you spend on the project will pay off in peace, quiet, and contentment.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 146 Comments

  1. Pamela Sanabria

    This is very beautiful, Hilary. 🙂 How did this project cost in total? I want to create a small garden idea in my terrace, but before starting off, I want to have an idea about how much $$$ I’m going to need.

    • It really depends on how big your balcony is, but each item I used was pretty cheap, so it didn’t add up to more than a few hundred dollars at most. Very much worth it!

    • Claire Martinez

      I redecorated my balcony using this tutorial for something like $70, buying a grass carpet, some flowers and plants, I made a bench with leftover wood myself, bought few glasses and candles, and it already looks amazing! You can easily make a great atmosphere without a lot of money!

  2. Emma Blackwood

    Ok, this is almost perfect! But if it was my balcony, I would’ve used some reclaimed materials and real plants. That’d be more ecofriendly.

  3. Aylin Sanli

    This is definitely the inspiration I needed! My balcony is long due some extreme make over like this. With the help of your tips and ideas, it’s gonna be lovely. I can’t wait!

  4. Catherine White

    E P I C !!! I’m not even exaggerating. I wish I was as creative and skillful as you. There’s no way I could do it myself even if I tried.

  5. Hey guys! Great job on your balcony. You’ve created a very beautiful private outdoor space. Inspired me to take on the challenge and create my own balcony sanctuary, with an “edible garden”. =)

  6. Melissa Princeton

    Stunning little private garden, Hilary. I’m jealous. Tiny balcony, great idea! You should be proud of how creative you are.

  7. Lacey-Jo Hargreaves

    OMG I want this! It’s a genius idea to create a private garden in your balcony. It’s a cool idea to use faux vines and ivy, but for plants, I want them to be real! I’m going to get self-irrigating planters.

  8. Nifty way of creating your own garden in your balcony. I would add a folding bamboo screen to privatize it a little, but if I had to rate it, overall it’s an absolute 10!

  9. Richard Moore

    That, my friend, is the definition of cozy! Spectacular ideas. So peaceful and elegant at the same time. I will decorate my balcony stealing some of your ideas. 😉

  10. Evelyn Sandler

    Ahh! I love this! No better place than your very own green-balcony to bring the outdoors into your apartment. It’s a breeze of fresh air among these big tall New York apartments.

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