The Best Balcony Furniture to Decorate Your Outdoor Space
There is nothing like global stay-at-home orders to enlist even the most passive home decorator to up their game. During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, life lived via balconies went viral. (Who can forget the woman lowering her dog on a rope to do his business? Or Italians signing and toasting one another via stemware held in long, bamboo sticks?). On one French street in the heart of Paris, a fashion publicist managed to meet her neighbors on their respective balconies – one who happened to be a cellist – and staged a concert with the fair musician wearing frocks by one of her clients.
Pandemic or no pandemic, the French have perfected the art of balcony life with the best balcony furniture. Generally, narrow spaces – an actual French balcony couldn’t even fit a tiny bistro chair and are considered extensions of the room. But plenty of terraces in France have enough room to create a unique little space to sit for a café or un verre. But living in the City of Lights isn’t a requirement for having a fantastic balcony to extend your living space or enjoy the outside world.
Step one is to not relegate the balcony space as the dumping ground for your old bike, soon-to-be recycled pile, or other items placed there instead of appropriately dealing with them. Cherish this extra space that most city dwellers would die for – or at least pay good money for – and turn it into your private oasis. Purging the clutter is a no-regrets kind of task.
Balconies often come attached to rental properties, which may impede your wildest design dreams, but this too can be circumvented with a little styling panache. Before placing any furniture or greenery, the first two aspects to hone are flooring and any privacy needs.
Most concrete slabs balconies are transformed with easy-to-place wood tiles for an instant deck effect. Or, try outdoor carpeting or rubber floor tiles to achieve a custom-finished look. Whether you need to spruce up a terrace facing a non-aesthetically pleasing rear building view or wish to keep your terrace out of sight, there are several easy to apply screens that work well as balcony furniture. The most common, which adds an earthy touch, is straw reed fencing. For a more dramatic effect, floor-to-ceiling screens that attach to existing railings add drama by imparting compelling light and shadow plays.
Lighting is also a key component in considering your perfect balcony furniture arrangement. Who can resist the charm of bistro string lights, especially with warm antique-style bulbs? Just like flooring, the lighting does not need to be fixed or explicitly designed for outdoor use. A well-placed reading lamp can make a cozy corner a favorite place to devour your next novel. Hurricane lamps and lanterns, such as Nest Casa’s Kensington lanterns or bronze and white ensconced pillar holders filled with candles, add a warm natural glow to any balcony space.
Considering this is your escape to the outdoors, plants are a must to incorporate into your balcony furniture design as you create an inviting open-air space. The French have mastered the art of the balcony plant, consider lining the space with flower boxes that face inwards, or, suspend them out along the edge of the railing. If you’ve chosen a floor-to-ceiling privacy screen, a vertical hanging flower garden wall adds a sense of modernity and dimensional intrigue. The balcony may also be the first opportunity to try out your green thumb. Succulents are always a safe bet while still learning the art of gardening. As an added bonus, you can experiment with a diverse edit of chicly-updated terracotta planters to work in with your balcony furniture edit. Our editors’ top picks include the new artfully-rendered options from Georg Jensen and the stacked version from Franca ceramics studio in Brooklyn.
A sense of intimacy and charm are key goals to achieving a well-considered balcony furniture design, wherever you live. A traditional woven Riviera chair brings the Parisian-sidewalk-cafe look home. Really up the ante with an Owesty terrazzo surface table. For smaller spaces, the classic folding bistro chair not only delivers the look but also delivers a sense of versatility as it collapses for easy storage. Their coordinating folding tables are also space savers. Add a petite French Basque tablecloth for a perfect dining al fresco setting. Defer to traditional, treated wood and wrought iron materials in your balcony furniture so they are able to weather the outdoor elements.
In case you want to mix things up with your balcony furniture, fold the bistro set away and add a rustic straw pouf or a wicker rattan ottoman from Pottery Barn for an added casual floor seating option set atop a throw rug. Wicker couches and chairs, updated in new resin material plumped with pillows, add to your outdoor space’s charm. Side tables like this one from Skagerak are also a great place to display a colorful ceramic pot or decor for a personal touch. Once you’ve created a balcony like a Parisian, you may spend your life on it.