Balcony seating ideas – 14 ways to sit back and relax in a small space

Even if it's bijou in size, you don't have to compromise on style when choosing practical seating for a balcony

several balcony spaces with tables and chairs
(Image credit: Ikea/Jacky Hobbs/Wayfair)

Space efficient and stylish, practical balcony seating will help you maximize every inch of your outside area. Whether you want to entertain, kick back and savor cocktails or just enjoy a peaceful retreat, choosing the right furniture is essential and can transform your balcony.

From lightweight, folding and stackable designs to corner-hugging sofas and cozy cocoon chairs, there are plenty of design-savvy options available. The key is to work out exactly how you want to use and arrange your space and choose pieces accordingly.

When the floor area of your balcony garden is tight, double-duty seating is a real win. Stools that provide storage or act as side tables can prove invaluable, while table and chair sets that tuck in close together to form a small footprint, are neat to look at and supremely practical too. Pieces that can be moved and enjoyed both inside and out are also an option – especially if it helps to justify buying a long-admired designer number.

Practical yet stylish balcony seating ideas to try

However, you intend to use your balcony space, deciding on the right type of seating can make all the difference to your enjoyment of the space. 

'Every inch of space is valuable in a small outdoor area, so it pays to consider your balcony seating ideas wisely,' says Beth Murton, Head of Gardens for Homes & Gardens. 'While a full dining table and chair set might be out of the question for many balconies due to space limitations, there are plenty of other options that would work well instead. 

'Folding furniture is a better option if you do want to create a dining space, and if you only have room for one item of seating, make sure it's the comfiest option you can find. A cocooning hanging chair or a cozy armchair would always get my vote.'

1. Save space with folding or stackable furniture

folding table and chairs on a balcony garden

If space is tight, look for lightweight designs that can be safely folded and stored to one side when not in use

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Folding outdoor seating has been around for a while now, but it really comes into its own in a small backyard or on a balcony. Slimline and lightweight, they are ideal for compact spaces, can be stored easily when not needed – taking up very little space – and moved around with little hassle.

‘Bistro chairs were created at the end of the 19th century for French cafe owners,’ explains Ben Poulteney, from outdoor furniture specialist, The Worm That Turned. ‘This style has been updated and perfected to make it easy to fold, store and carry.'

'Don't discount stackable chairs either,' says Beth Murton. 'They can be incredibly practical when it comes to making the most of the space, and they don't have to be cheap and cheerful plastic designs. A set of sleek stacking chairs in a timeless material such as teak, for example, will last for years to come.'

5. Choose space-enhancing bench seating

built in wooden bench in a garden

A simple wooden bench built into a wall or a raised planter will make the most of your balcony floorspace 

(Image credit: Beth Murton/Future)

Built-in bench seating – especially a pared-back design – is a great addition to any sizeable balcony. Roomy enough to accommodate friends and family in style but efficient on floor space, it looks neat, tidy and welcoming. 

Surrounded by lush balcony plants, this simple yet elegant wooden design creates a cozy small balcony spot to enjoy the view. If you have the space, you can team it with a dining or low-level coffee table and supplement with extra chairs, as and when needed. 

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to materials for wooden outdoor furniture too. Timber choices include long-lasting western red cedar, that weathers gradually from reddish brown to silver; dark and moody American black walnut, rich sable brown Iroko or blond Siberian Larch with its distinctive woodgrain. 

6. Introduce upholstered multi-use pieces

balcony seating area with table, chairs and floor pouffe

Large floor cushions can double up as seating and a coffee table. Furniture and accessories from Wayfair

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Not just for putting your feet on, outdoor pouffes and ottomans can also double as handy side tables and comfy seats. Make sure you check if the material used for your outdoor furniture is weatherproof if you plan to leave it outside on your balcony or roof garden all year. 

Many designs are made from recycled plastic and synthetic yarns and can cope well with the occasional shower. UV stable, quick drying, washable and stainproof, they are perfect for alfresco living and a balcony chill out spot.

7. Go for a cozy cocoon chair on your balcony

rattan hanging chair on a balcony garden

Make a statement on a balcony with a supersized hanging chair

(Image credit: Future)

If you fancy a chill out spot for one or two, then a cocoon chair is the answer. Designed to hang from a sturdy frame, these open weave chairs are a brilliant outdoor furniture option for a balcony. They will give you the perfect spot for curling up, any time of year. 

Originally made from natural cane, today’s chair designs are typically made from synthetic or all-weather rattan. Known as high density polyethelene (HDPE), Polypropylene (PP) or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) they have various ingredients added to improve their durability before being woven around a sturdy and curved aluminium chair frame. 

These strands are tough, hardwearing and above all, weatherproof, making them ideal for life outdoors. Look for rattan strands that are mono extruded, where the color permeates completely so any marks are easily disguised. With dual extrusion techniques only the surface is colored, so any damage is obvious and hard to disguise.

If floorspace is particularly tight, do take a close look at the cocoon chair’s stand before buying. While some are designed to come easily apart, others once assembled, can be harder to dismantle, particularly if they have been left outside for some time. It’s worth remembering that these style statements also work beautifully indoors, so if you have space, you can bring them inside for the winter.

11. Add impact with colored balcony seating

pale blue table and chairs on a balcony or patio

The open design of these tables and chairs helps to maximize the feeling of light and space on this balcony

(Image credit: Marks & Spencer)

Bring color and comfort to your balcony with some choice all-weather seating. There’s a huge variety of shapes and materials to choose from, each with their own personality. Retro Sunray designs and rattan tub-style chairs are made for curling up in and call out for squishy cushions and tactile throws, while those with high-backs and slim, mid-century modern style frames are smarter and a tad more supportive. 

Open weave designs, such as the ones pictured, can help to make a small garden look bigger too as your line of sight isn't blocked by a solid piece of furniture. They have a light and elegant feel and sit well surrounded by plants, textured rugs, and piled high with plump cushions.

Besides comfort, think carefully about the footprint of each set too. A sprawling, circular design will occupy more floorspace than furniture with neat, straight-sides, plus you will need room to move around too, so do measure the size of your balcony before you buy. 

12. Extend the living space outside

outdoor dining area on a balcony

Although balcony seating needs to be durable, you can soften the effect of hard materials with statement lighting and textiles

(Image credit: Ikea)

Thanks to the advances in all-weather materials, many outdoor furniture designs are so tactile and desirable that they can be enjoyed both inside and out. Synthetic rattan is now almost indistinguishable from the real thing and will happily stay outside rain or shine, but it can also look equally as good in the living or dining area. 

‘PE rattan is made with polyethylene. Fortunately, polyethylene is fully recyclable,’ says Thomas Cutler, co-founder of Laura James. ‘This means PE rattan furniture can be made from recycled materials. It also can be melted down and reformed into new items. When the time comes to replace the furniture, you can rest assured it won’t end up in a landfill.’ 

13. Design a secluded balcony bench

decorative metal screen adding privacy to a balcony garden

A bespoke metal screen can not only shield your seating space from view, it can also make a balcony more sheltered from wind

(Image credit: The Garden Builders)

Longing for a private spot to sit and chill on your balcony, away from the neighbor’s gaze? Then decorative garden screening and a couple of substantial planters could well prove the answer. Combining loose planting, height and a touch of fretwork panelling you can create a cozy bench that cocoons you in foliage, all within a fairly small footprint. 

This super stylish design by The Garden Builders is a masterclass in combining materials, texture and design. A pair of powder-coated aluminium cube planters in RAL Anthracite grey sit either side of a red cedar slatted bench supported by a simple aluminium base. Backed with a lazer-cut aluminium screen showcasing a intricate leaf pattern the result is simple but effortlessly elegant.

14. Cozy up ledge-style seating

built-in wooden bench seat on a balcony

A wooden storage box like this one can double up as handy storage and a comfy seat with the addition of some cushions

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs/Future)

If you’ve a sturdy low wall, ledge or backyard storage box on your balcony, transform it into a cozy perch with some bright and breezy outdoor cushions. 

Fabric technology has come a long way in recent years. A speedy dash in the rain to rescue cushions is a largely a thing of the past. Today’s products are discreetly synthetic and able to withstand showers and the occasional downpour. There are varying grades of cushion inners, seat pads and covers and the quality of performance is usually reflected in the pricing. 

Top-end products have a foam filled core with an engineered drainage structure so any rain can simply pass through. Covers tend to be made from polypropylene, polyethylene or polyester canvas and should be resistant to mildew, abrasion and UV fading.

And if they do get dirty, cleaning outdoor cushions can be a relatively quick task to freshen up the fabrics once more. 

Which type of chair is best for a balcony?

This definitely depends on the size and proportions of your outside space, and how you want to use it. A rocking or Adirondack chair can be supportive and ideal for a quiet read or snooze, while a low-level sofa or roomy beanbag creates the perfect spot for catching up with friends.

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens. 

With contributions from