Louise Blair is an interiors and lifestyle influencer who knows a thing or two about redesigning a space. With summer ramping up, now is the perfect time to give your outdoor space a stylish refresh – and Louise is on hand to walk us through her own balcony restyle and provide tips on revamping on a budget.


Private outdoor space is a dream for most city dwellers; having lived in flats for most of my adult life without one, having a balcony is a true luxury. Space is so valuable in apartment living – it is important to treat your balcony like an extra room. It is, after all, an extension of your home!

If a balcony, patio, or garden is at the top of your property wish list but outside of your budget, Shared Ownership might be able to help you afford your dream outdoor space through the part-buy, part-rent scheme. With Shared Ownership, you purchase a share of the property – as much as you can afford to start. You will pay a mortgage on the share you own and a subsidised rent to a housing association (like L&Q) on the part you don’t own yet. But you are an owner-occupier, so can decorate and really make the space yours! As and when you can afford to, you can buy additional shares (a process known as ‘staircasing’), until you own 100% of your home and don’t pay any rent to the housing association.

In my apartment, like in many other new builds, the balcony is directly off the open plan living room and is visible from the interior – so my goal was to create a seamless integration between inside and out.
No matter how small the space, there are endless possibilities with clever design; you can create an outdoor reading nook and private workspace, a cosy space for a morning coffee or evening drink, a full al fresco dining set up or even your own herb garden. Whether you have a balcony, patio or courtyard, these tips will help you create the perfect space!

Think about what you most use the space for, so you can decorate accordingly to get the most out of it. Because my balcony faces west, I wanted to create a comfortable seating area for doing some work on a sunny day, hangouts, and sunset drinks to get the most out of the amazing afternoon and evening sun.

Mood board

My first port of call when it comes to styling is to create a visual mood board – this really helps with planning what pieces to buy and setting an overall aesthetic. I recommend keeping the colour palette, textures and feel similar to the interior – this helps to maintain flow and synergy between the two spaces.

Space – and Budget – Saving Tips

When I first moved into my apartment, I added a bistro table with foldaway chairs – both great options for al fresco dining and space saving. But as the apartment is on the fifth floor, it’s subject to strong wind and the evening sun can be so intense, I found that we hardly ever used the balcony and it was a waste of a great space. In the redesign, I opted for making a clever pallet ‘sofa’ for built-in seating that was not only zero cost but has proven to be so versatile – it’s perfect for relaxing and reading, working from home, or watching the sun go down with a glass of wine. I sourced the pallets for free from a local business (but there are plenty available on Gumtree or eBay) – you can buy, or even make, outdoor friendly cushions to fit them. I love the rustic warmth of the wood.

As space is limited, I did not want to overwhelm the balcony with large furniture pieces, so I have just added a rattan chair for additional seating and a small side table to hold those ever-important drinks and nibbles! This one is great as the tray top is removable – ideal for transporting between outside and in. Always remember to consider weather resilient materials when buying outdoor furniture as it will be subject to the elements.

Make Things Comfortable

My favourite part is adding soft furnishings and texture to make the space cosy and inviting. An outdoor rug instantly adds floor appeal and is more comfortable under foot, whilst cushions make it feel warm and homely. Many retailers sell outdoor cushions, however I often just bring my interior ones outside for comfort and variety – just don’t forget to bring them back in!

Green up your gaff

Plants energise your living space so what better place to get green-fingered than your balcony? There are plenty of plants, herbs, and vegetables that can thrive in urban environments – vertical or hanging planters can help you maximise space. I added a wall mounted planter with interchangeable pots for my living herb wall (which smells incredible!) as well as some free-standing planters to create visual interest at different heights. Plant stands are also great for adding height, plus the light flow under and around the legs helps give the illusion of a larger space. If you are not into gardening, faux plants can work just as well outdoors as a low maintenance option.

Mood Lighting

Lighting is essential to extend your time outdoors and key in tying the space together. Here, I have opted for weather friendly festoon lighting with added lanterns and candles. At night there is nothing prettier than twinkling lights to set the mood and make the space shine.

All my balcony pieces have been sourced on a budget from various retailers; supermarkets and garden centres offer extensive ranges nowadays and Ikea and Homesense are great for versatile finds and the finishing touches.

For more interiors inspiration from me, find me on Instagram @dougs.digs