Urban living is fun, funky, and full of both challenges, and lots of potential! Keeping your balcony private and personal is one of the most exciting challenges city life can offer.
Apartment life puts us in close quarters with strangers and friends. It’s a great place to build community and get to know your neighbors. But it can be intrusive too, especially on the balcony.
Your balcony can be a beautiful extension of your home, but too often it feels like a big fishbowl. It doesn’t have to, though! There are so many ways to make your balcony space your own. I’m sharing 15 of my favorites here, just to get you started.
1. Grow a Flower Garden.
Potted plants that stand tall around the outside of your balcony will make the interior glow with green light in summertime, and keep prying eyes at bay. Bushy, foliage-heavy plants pair well with bright flowers and trellising vines.
Give your balcony a romantic, walled-garden vibe and lounge there in privacy all season long.
2. Go Dramatic.
Hang long, lightweight, bohemian tapestries for a breezy, boho look. Light, cotton-y fabrics with vegetable dyed prints are ideal for these eye-catching curtains. They’re substantial enough to keep your balcony space private, but sheer enough to welcome sunlight and cool breezes. Deck these flowy fabrics with white Christmas lights and beads to make your balcony a bohemian paradise.
This option is ideal if you really want the balcony to feel like a private room. They can be tied back too, for those days when you really do want to show off for your neighbors.
3. Repurposed Style.
Check out fantastic indie-shops like Neel Creations for access to sustainable, repurposed sari fabric. You can use it to drape inside your urban sanctuary. Sheer, beautifully embroidered, and eye-catching, sari fabrics pair well with candles and a few potted flowers to create a magical retreat in the heart of the city.
They’re less concealing than tapestries, but they still distract and discourage prying eyes while letting in plenty of light.
4. Bamboo Barriers
Bamboo screens are an ideal option for lovely, minimalist spaces and a whole lot of balcony privacy. Simple, beautiful, and uncluttered, these screens created a structured backdrop for your outdoor retreat.
I love bamboo screens for quiet breakfast balconies or writing nooks. The light, airy feel of bamboo combined with its solid feel is ideal for a functional balcony. Pair it with some living bamboo plants for a fresh look that doesn’t overwhelm your little space. It’s easy to find pre-made screens, or make your own. They’re an easy DIY project.
5. Behind Closed Doors
Old doors are easy to find in salvage shops. Check your local Restore to find fun, vintage options to paint and make a balcony privacy screen all your own. Re-purposed doors are a fun way to say “privacy please” to your neighbors, and are a great conversation starter for new friends.
Doors are big, however, and balconies often aren’t. Avoid overwhelming your space. One or two smaller doors can give you the privacy you need without walling you in and making you feel claustrophobic.
6. Pallet Fences
Pallets are the do-everything material of the decade. They’re great for everything from bookcases to beds, and privacy fences as well! In fact, making a simple fence is a great way to get started working with pallets.
Like doors, these can be funky and fresh when done well, and a bit overwhelming if you go overboard. Set up a partial wall at one area of your balcony and hang it with planters to give a welcoming feel. I’d recommend painting your pallets as well, for lovely a balcony herb garden.
7. Folding Screens
If you have a bit of building experience, stretch some lovely fabrics inside a wooden frame for a simple, versatile privacy screen. Folding screens are ideal for a moveable balcony privacy wall. Fabric screens give a cozy, soft feeling to outdoor spaces and help keep traffic noise in the background.
They pair well with cozy, balcony couches and study tables. Best of all, they can be moved around as needed to keep the sun out of your eyes.
8. In the Grasses
Ornamental grasses are an easy and portable option for city dwellers who want to improve their air quality as well as give their personal space a visual border. Ornamental grasses are graceful and easy to grow. They grow quickly and give your neighbors a beautiful barrier to enjoy while keeping your balcony space out of sight.
I love using tall grasses as a screen because they don’t look like an intentional barrier. Ornamental grasses are great if you have sensitive neighbors whose feelings might be hurt by a more obvious wall.
9. Extend Your Wall Space
Build an easy, DIY slat wall to give your balcony a solid side. The bits of space between the slats allow light to filter in as well. It’s structured, urban, and best of all, absolutely customizable. You can even turn your balcony space into a gallery by hanging the slat wall with art!
These walls definitely preserve privacy. They’re easy to pair with less labor-intensive privacy options as well. Build a slat wall at one end of your balcony and grow some ornamental grass at the other. Balance is key to finding what works for your space.
10. Wattle Wall
For an old-world, earthy vibe, trying building a wattle screen. This type of screen is made of bendable saplings and long branches, woven into an airy structured wall. Wattle screens are lighter in weight than slats or pallets, but just as concealing.
Wattle is for the city person with a rural heart; for the folk art-loving, tree-hugging apartment dweller. Plant climbing vines in pots beneath it and hang fabric birds along the top to bring artsy country charm to your urban-dwelling.
11. Plant Trees
I know it might sound a bit overwhelming for a small space, but potted trees are actually a low-labor border. Growing small trees in pots forms a slim, graceful, living barrier. Plant a tiny forest between you and the eyes of everyone on the street.
Birches, lilacs, Chicago figs, and miniature citrus trees are ideal for balcony privacy. If you have a fair bit of space to work with, set a couple of small cafe tables among the trees for a Parisian cafe feel.
12. Tomato Trellis
Tomatoes are are tasty option for a trellis wall, as potted tomato plants will grow straight up if they have a line of twine to cling to. A row of tall, bushy tomatoes along your balcony’s rail will make you the envy of the block. But don’t worry, they won’t know what you look like!
Tomatoes are lush concealers with the added benefit of providing a bounty of fresh fruits. Add a little window-sill greens garden and you’ll be having lunch on the deck all summer long.
13. Back to Basics
Sometimes the simplest options are the best. If you’re a low-key kind of person who just wants a basic privacy screen, you can’t do better than white, wood lattice.
This type of lattice is light and easy to work with. You can attach it in place with twine, rope, nails, or even wood glue (but check with your landlord first). The screen is attractive, bright, airy, and functional. It’s easy to take down, and lattice won’t die back in the wintertime either. Perfect for lattes on the balcony in the morning whether it’s December or June.
14. Cozy Curtains
Curtains are another easy option for the apartment dweller who just wants an easy solution to overly attentive neighbors. You really don’t need to drape tapestries or grow grasses. They’re lovely and fun, but if you’re just a simple renter with casual tastes, curtains can be your balcony’s best friend.
The best thing about curtains is that they come all ready to hang up. No planning, building, or DIY websites required. Pretty curtains are easy to find—mix and match or create a consistent flow of color across your balcony. It’s all up to you.
15. Stain the View
If you’re not so basic, and you have access to a great architectural salvage shop, like this one in Portland, ME, gather up some stained glass and make your balcony into an abstract painting.
Four or five small stained glass windows hung along your balcony will add a bit of mystery to your urban life. Stained glass is an indulgent, artistic option for the creative urbanite, providing a bit of balcony privacy and bathing your space in colored light. Pair these beauties with a few trellising plants and frequent dinner parties for a glamorous city life.
Don’t Limit Yourself
You’re a creative individual with a style all your own! Use your imagination to take these suggestions and run with them. There are no limits to what you can do… except maybe your budget and your landlord’s permission.
The most important part of decorating is making a space the delights you. If privatizing your balcony makes you feel closed in or uncomfortable, switch it up. It should feel like an extension of your home, not an afterthought. So go for it!