How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


How to Turn Your Balcony Into a Private Sanctuary


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 spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.


  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.

  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.

  11. Dan Vengenz

    Hey there! Just came across this article while Googling for greenspace ideas for tiny spaces. I won’t have to look further. This is just perfect!! Thanks.

  12. Jennifer McSween

    You’re such a creative person, Hilary. I love what you did with your balcony! Add a few candles here and there, a glass of wine, some chocolate. The perfect romantic summer night at home!

  13. Delilah Peyton

    I need this in my life… My balcony is so dull. 🙁

  14. Roberta Bennett

    Such a darling space, Hilary! A total sanctuary. I adore it! Inspiring. That green grassy floor creates a great impact overall on the theme of the project. Very smartly and beautifully done.

  15. Teresa Tanner

    Hi, Hilary! Just stopping by to thank you, because this post is very helpful and useful for me, as I’m currently working on transforming my balcony into a tiny garden. I want it to be as natural and green it can be, with a touch of colorful flowers. 🙂

  16. Lynn Hayes

    I really love this and I wish I could do it, but at this time it’s a little too pricey for my part time barista student budget… Saving for future projects though….

  17. Sasha Rosswell

    One quick question about cushions, what happens when it rains or is windy? Where I live, the wind would fly them all away. How do you avoid that?

    • Good question Sasha, not sure what to do about the wind thing, but you can avoid the rain by getting waterproof fabric chairs, cushions etc.

  18. Ayla Pennington

    I like it! I have a small green balcony of my own, too. Nothing better than having your own green sanctuary in the hectic city life, especially during summer and spring! 🙂

  19. Nathalie Winchester

    Beautiful atmosphere you created there, Hilary! Such a brilliant job! Way to go. If my building allowed it, I’d so do it. But they don’t even allow Christmas lights… What a shame!

  20. Elena Horsham

    Fabulous project, here, Hilary! I love what you did there. Lovely ideas to create some shade, and add color to a small balcony! Thank you for sharing this. Those of us who want a balcony sanctuary of their own, greatly appreciate it! xo

  21. Nicky Bryan

    Incredibly eye catching! I bet your neighbors are so jealous. 😀

  22. Odeta Klucinska

    Very elegant! It’s insane how you can create a completely enchanting outdoor space in a few simple touches. Thanks so much for sharing these tips and ideas. I want to do this!

  23. Lena Dzeko

    Hello, Hilary! I love this wonderful balcony make over. If it wasn’t for this guide, I never would’ve guessed how easy it was to do it yourself.

    I noticed that the vines are faux. Do you think it’s a bad idea to go for real plants? I want my own tiny gardening space in my balcony, where I can plant some flowers or even some tomatoes or avocados maybe!

    • Loraine Aguilar

      Hmm, I can see why you want to go for real plants, but remember it’s an apartment. Watering and fertilizing vines on a tiny balcony, in apartment building, especially if you have neighbors downstairs can be troublesome. Not to mention… bugs and insects… yikes…

  24. Danielle Wilson

    Loving this! Makes me want to start my own DIY Eco Garden, but instead of ivy, I’m thinking of using bamboos, and some Asian garden deco. What do you think?

  25. Lauren Gilson

    Beautiful! I can’t do it all at once, but I will start off with the balcony fences and rails. I will green it up step by step, day by day! Can’t wait!!!

  26. Kylie Johnson

    Ohhhh I love it!! I have a tiny terrace that I can’t wait to turn into a balcony-garden. Thanks so much for the tutorial and the inspiration. You rock!

  27. Sydney Nowak

    Thank you so much for these amazing ideas that’ll help us recreate gardens in our balconies, regardless of the size. I’m thinking of using some colorful plants instead of all-green. 🙂

  28. Anna Kaplan

    I love this, but what about when watering the plants? Doesn’t it leak or run down to the neighbors below? I can imagine it bringing lots of complaints!

  29. Kim Hartford

    As a greenspace lover, I am absolutely in love with your balcony! Makes me want to make over my balcony. Ideas and inspiration flowing right now.

  30. Stacey Wolowitz

    Reading this totally got me inspired to do this for my terrace. Starting off this weekend, it’s officially my new DIY-project.

  31. Wow! This is absolutely therapeutic! Simple, easy yet beautiful ideas to transform a cold stone block into a refreshing lively green living area!

  32. Fascinating ideas, Hilary! I swooned as I read. LOL. Thanks for showing us how to do this amazing project step-by-step. I will do it and hope to finish it by the start of the summer!

  33. Ingrid Winston

    I am very jealous and impressed, especially with the fact that it’s a DIY project! I wish my landlord would let me do this, but he doesn’t even let me change the colors of the walls.

  34. Elin Hanks

    Beautiful place. I love it. That’s exactly what I want to do with my back deck! Do you think it’s best to use fake plants rather than real ones? Because I don’t know if they die during winter? Or did you use evergreen plants?

  35. Amelia Beckons

    How cozy! I’d do this in a heartbeat, if I had a balcony. 🙂

  36. Daisy Clarke

    Such a genius way to make perfectly use of a small space! Your balcony now looks more spacious and of course very relaxing! Nice job!

  37. The difference between before and after is crazy! Really loving your little eco-balcony. 🙂 Are you going to be doing this for your new place in Lyon too?

  38. Frances Shapiro

    You created magic with those lights!!!

  39. Jenifer Jeni

    I was googling how to overhaul my balcony and I landed onto your page. Very helpful! Most of the time, I’m finiding it hard to make the most out of my space.

  40. Agatha Underwood

    What else can I say but WOW!!! You always share some incredibly smart and unique ideas and guides / tutorials that leave me speechless and have me wanting to do it! Thanks for all the creativity that you’ve been sharing!

  41. Callie Wright

    Honestly, in love with this project! Very nicely done, great job, Hilary! I can’t wait to show this to my husband and see if we can make a budget for this. I really want to do this for our balcony.

  42. Frances Seifert

    Beautiful balcony garden, Hilary! If I lived in an apartment, I would absolutely do this myself.

    ps. It’s very selfless and beautiful of you to share the affiliate fees from Amazon, with the women in need.

    You are an inspiration!

    • Charleen Washington

      Right!!! I was gonna say… Most websites try to make money off their readers, and that’s fair I guess, but it’s truly amazing and inspirational that Urbanette magazine always donates and helps out women who need it the most! Way to go, ladies!

  43. Gregor Perry

    What a fantastic idea! I don’t have a balcony, but I have a tiny backyard that needs renovating. Now I know exactly what to do with it! 😉

  44. Sabrina Grattidge

    Aww, Hilary! I totally adore this. In the concrete jungle of New York, it must be refreshing to have your very own garden in your balcony!

  45. Lin Del Rey

    Wow… What? Are you saying this was actually a DIY project? As in you and your husband did it all by yourselves? You guys must have the Midas Touch, cause that balcony is golden! I’m out of words!!! Incredible work!

  46. Pearl Nguyen

    You know, I’ve seen quite a few amazing eco-balconies on the internet, but yours is the best I’ve seen by far! Do you mind I copy it a little for mine? I really want that hammock and the bunny doorstop!

  47. Shelley Donalds

    Thank you for these wonderful ideas! 🙂 I work from home and it gets so boring and lonely at times. I soooooo need a balcony like this to escape from the boredom without having to leave my house every so often.

  48. April Wagner

    OMFG! This is GENIUS, Hilary! My balcony is so dull and boring, that I’ve only been using it as a storage for the last few months. I really want to turn my balcony into a green space that I can chill and hang out in! Big thanks for the tips and the links!

  49. Jessica Castillo

    Thank you for this amazing tutorial! I don’t have a balcony, but I have a terrace rooftop, that I have been wanting to turn into a garden, a “Private Sanctuary” in your words. I just never got around to do it, simply cause I didn’t know how to, or where to start, and I’m not gonna lie, I was being a little lazy, so I never did an actual research…

  50. Joss Butler

    After reading your article, I want to clean my balcony and renovate it. It inspires me a lot. Does that make me less masculine?? Lol.

  51. Sibel Jenkinson

    I wish cats, and birds were compatible with each other. I want to have a bird feeder, but I have a cat too.

  52. Cries Moris

    Stackable chairs? I need those at my apartment. Unstackable chairs eat lots of space at my apartment.

  53. Allen Kathleen

    I love you, Hilary. Your articles are inspiring even for us, men. You are an indeed talented person.

  54. Martin Juyes

    I hate green. I don’t know, but I hate green. Whenever I see green items, it hurts my eyes.

  55. James Hannks

    Thank you, Urbanette. I’ll do this on our balcony as an anniversary gift to my wife. She will love it.

  56. Kathryn Gibson

    Hmm.. Why put faux plants when you can plant the real ones? It’s made from plastic, and you are claiming yourself a nature lover?

  57. Monique Malick

    My friends will love this! We always have our quality time each week. We can ditch the bar and coffee shop for this.

  58. Lind Vajra

    After a long tiring day at work, you need to comfort yourself. This space will help you in that. Good music, light, and view. What an amazing way to relax after work, isn’t it?

  59. Blanche Martina

    I like how you spruce up your balcony. I’m no good when it comes to decorating, but you inspire me, Hilary. Yikes!

  60. Osana Smith

    A glass of wine, plus good music. I like how you design your balcony. I want to have a balcony like that.

  61. Candis Melton

    I love your balcony, Hilary! I super love it. I wish I have a talent like that. You are a great designer!

  62. Carol Joyner

    My girlfriend would be happy if she sees this post. She’s a fan of yours, and she admires you a lot. If she knows that you are good in designing, she will admire you more.

  63. Olive Williams

    The color green relaxes your mind. If you are stressed, it can reduce the stress that you are feeling.

  64. Wilma Moore

    I like to hear the birds singing every morning. It’s like a music to my ears, and it relaxes me.

  65. Kelly Gonzales

    OMG! I like this article. It helps me in my renovating. I have no idea what to do on my balcony, and reading your article helps me to decorate it.

  66. Hm.. It is romantic to hang out n a balcony like this with your partner. Instead of going out for a fancy dinner, it is a great option for a date.

  67. Kimberly Holder

    I like to hang out in a place where you can hear good music. The idea of having a Bluetooth speaker is a bright idea.

  68. Rosetta Armendariz

    My girlfriend will love this article. We are planning to rent an apartment with balcony, and she loves to decorate things.

  69. Marina Josef

    Rock speaker? OMG! I want that one. Is that rechargeable, or you need to plug it? We can use it in any outdoor activities that we have.

  70. Luthi Sanders

    I like your balcony, Hilary. You’re such a talented person. How can you do all those things? You are very lucky to have that kind of talent.

  71. Eloisa Clay

    I still have our old Christmas lights, can I use that as a replacement for the lighting stuff?

    • I prefer 100% pearl-white lights. You could use the cord and replace the bulbs with white ones…

  72. Katherine Donnelly

    My husband and I are planning to renovate our balcony. It is our hangout place, and we want to spruce it up.

  73. Kseniya Tomlin

    I like the idea of having a space like this. Most of the time, balconies are boring. You did such a great job on your balcony.

  74. Sherry Manust

    Seriously? Why would hang a bird feeder if you know you have cats at home? A cat person knows if it’s safe for their cats, or not.

    • Mildred Davis

      That is why she put bird spikes to protect the birds from the cats. Duh… 😀

    • We thought the bird feeder was high enough… and it was… the problem is that a bird got into our apartment while we were away. 🙁

  75. Alena Martin

    I’m going to relocate in of the apartments in NYC, and it has a balcony too. Thank God you posted something like this.

  76. Patricia Montague

    OMG! I would love to hang out in a place like this. With good music as well. YAAAAS! I’m excited to redecorate our balcony this weekend.

  77. Carrie Bleau

    Aw.. Birds are singing every morning. I like that. Sadly, you have a cat in your apartment, and luckily I don’t have. Lol

  78. Dawn Katz

    Wow. I can imagine unwinding in a place like this. It is relaxing, and it will calm my soul. I like it very much. Thanks to Urbanette for sharing an article like this.

  79. Evelyn Harris

    Hmmmm.. I don’t think I can put a balcony like this in NYC. The pollution??? Instead of breathing fresh air, you can breathe pollution.

    • Jurik Smith

      I totally agree with you. I don’t think I’ll put something like this on my balcony. I can only breathe pollution.

      • You’re right — but it’s better than nothing! We found that ours got covered in black dust and needed to be cleaned regularly.

  80. Jeweli Prater

    Having a place like this when you are upset can lessen the pressure that you are feeling. It is true that the color green can help your brain to function well.

    • Ani Hoker

      I agree. A place like this will help you to unwind. The color green will help you to calm your brain and reduces the pressure in your mind.

  81. George Sumanta

    I love color green! Can I do this in my room? I don’t have a balcony, but I want to have a place like this. I will try this in my room.

    • You could do it in a sunroom… I think it’s really best on a balcony, terrace, or roof though.

  82. Jesse Wyss

    I admire you a lot, Hilary. I like your style, the way you decorate your balcony. I have cats too, I’m afraid I can’t have singing birds on my balcony.

  83. Nataliya Smith

    I am in need of this kind of place. OMG! You are such a creative person, Hilary. I like your idea.

  84. Zerin Martin

    Having a place where you can unwind is important. Going out with friends, just to have coffee will just cost you. If you have a balcony like this, you will ditch the coffee shops, and you will just stay at home.

    • Marina Bozek

      I don’t think you’ll ditch coffee shops because of this. The ambiance at the coffee shop and the ambiance at your balcony are different. Lol

  85. Jessie Fernande

    Oh, I have a cushion from CushionPros. Their products are high quality. I highly recommend them.

  86. Selli Coaze

    I can’t believe that there’s a place like this in NYC! I want to have that kind of balcony too.

    • Angelo Henderso

      Me too! I want to have that kind of balcony. Hilary is such an artist. How can she do something like this? I envy you.

  87. Betty Campbell

    Where can I buy those faux vines and trees? I want to renovate my balcony too. Did your renovation cost much? I hope it didn’t!

    • Juli Woods

      Google it. Try Amazon or Ebay, or any stores that sell home decoration.

  88. Josephine Murphy

    I agree with you. I love greens! I like nature because it calms me. I like your idea, Hilary.

    • Jennifer varner

      My nephew has ADHD… that’s how I learned that green reduces ADHD. This color is great for people who suffer psychological problems.

  89. Ana Brose

    I’m glad you posted something like this. Who would have thought that you could have something like this? It’s incredible.

    • Frances Shapiro

      I totally agree with you. I can’t imagine putting something like this, especially in NYC. I’m impressed with the creativity of Hilary.

  90. Hena Taylor

    Yes, I agree! You should post more articles about DIY. You have such a great talent, share it with us!

  91. Lusi Martin

    It’s also better if you put real flowers there. Is that even possible to grow flowers in NYC? lol.

    • I have a black thumb, which is why I like fakes ones! (Plus, they stay green all year)

  92. Jessi Agusta

    Seeing the pictures of your balcony makes me want to redecorate mine. You’re indeed talented, wish that I have the skills too. Lol.

  93. Honey Smith

    I admire you, Hilary. Keep up the good work, and keep inspiring us, women.

  94. Bela Christo

    I will share this with my housemate. We are planning to decorate our balcony, and this gives us some fantastic ideas. 🙂

  95. Anila William

    I will share this article with my wife. Pretty sure, she’ll love your ideas.

  96. Cristina Joseff

    Listening to music while chilling at your beautiful balcony. Hmm.. I imagined how relaxing is that.

  97. Nancy Smith

    Can I use our old Christmas lights? I’m having a second thought about buying new light if I can use our old Christmas lights.

    • Someone else asked the same question, actually! I hadn’t thought of it, but you could… just replace the bulbs with white (or green and white??)

  98. Maria Bruce

    Hammock chair! I would love to read books in that chair. I’m excited to renovate my balcony this weekend!

  99. Quin Meri

    I suggest, instead of buying new furniture, you can just use the old ones. You can save money from that.

    • Yup, you could try Craigslist or other sites that sell used furniture. Just remember that it’ll get wet and needs to be able to drain, so you need furniture made for the outdoors.

  100. Robert Patel

    I want to do this on my balcony too. But I don’t have any idea because it’s a girl stuff. Can someone help me with this?

    • Ha! Lots of interior designers are men 😉 Just follow my instructions — it’s easy!

  101. Britni Baynes

    The before and after picture amazed me. How can you do that? That’s a gift from God! Can you renovate mine too? Lol, just kidding.

  102. Jeweli Prater

    I can totally live in this balcony! Your balcony is spectacular. I wish I was talented as you, but I’m not. Lol

  103. Lancy Stanford

    I’ll use your article as an inspiration. I am in need of spot like this one. A greener place, for a healthy mind. I like that idea of yours.

  104. Paul Daiz

    My wife did this on our balcony. I like the idea of having this kind of spot at home. Perfect place to relax after work.

  105. Can you believe it? There’s something like this in NYC? Having this kind of balcony is better if you have a great view of NYC.

  106. Lana Wiliam

    Oh, you’ll remove the bird feeder? How sad. It’s nice to have birds singing in your balcony every morning.

    • I know!! I was disappointed too! Better to be safe though.. I’d hate for a bird to get hurt!

  107. Jodi Thil

    Yes, yes, yes! My favorite color is green! I so love green! I will do this on our balcony.

  108. Jenifer Jeni

    Whoa, I love your balcony! I’ll start renovating ours too. I never thought that our balcony could be my favorite spot at home.

  109. Jeni Morgan

    Wow! What an astounding balcony you have there, Hillary. You have a talent when it comes to decorating.

  110. It can be hard to find some privacy if you live in the city. I really like your tip about using lots of green on your balcony like faux ivy screens. It can be really nice to have a space to unwind after work. I’ll have to remember your tips if I ever move to the city and have a balcony. Thanks.

  111. Are you doing this as a side job?? You can definitely do my balcony! 😀

  112. Love the new balcony decor…it’s super creative to take an urban space and transform it into your own mini outdoor oasis. When I get my first apartment, I’ll definitely keep this in mind. (And share with my NYC friends!)

  113. Christine Muchoe

    I’m so jealous! It looks amazing, especially with the lights. I wish I had a balcony to do this with!

  114. …or you could just move to LA and have a backyard for the same $$. Just sayin’, honey. 😉

    • Gabrielle Williams

      Who wouldn’t want to have that option open? 🙂

  115. wow, that’s so cool! i never pictured a balcony in NYC with so much greenery. Low maintenance too. I may have to find someone on taskrabbit to hook that up. Summer party, here we come!

  116. Gorgeous! Please publish more DIY articles. I love how you link to where we can buy each thing you used, too. Makes it so much easier!

  117. OMG you are so talented! I love the before and after – such a difference! I’m going to share this with my friends who have balconies and order some new cushions for my patio furniture ASAP. (Love the fabric you chose and those cushions look super high-end).

  118. Gabrielle Williams

    Fantastic transformation, Hilary! Thank you very much for sharing your ideas!

    There are also some areas in my house that I would like to change or improve but most of the time, I’m having a hard time, I don’t know where and how to start.

  119. This is amazing, Hilary! You make it sound so easy as well. I’m certain we won’t have a difficult time doing this DIY project. I have some areas around the house I want to improve as well. Thanks for the ideas 😀

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