Outdoor entertaining is one of our fave things to do, especially in the warmer months. But if you’re renting, it can be difficult to know what to do with your space to make it feel like home. We’ve got some great styling tips and tricks when it comes to decorating a rental outdoor space or balcony.
1. Add privacy and hide ugly walls with screening
Whether you want to hide unattractive walls or create more privacy from neighbours, adding screens is a great hack for renters.
You can find a range of screens on the market, including:
- inexpensive and earthy bamboo screens
- contemporary metal screens
- outdoor privacy screens, like this range from IKEA
- curtains you can hack for outdoor use
- tall plants, such as bamboo, which can tolerate a range of conditions, or
- DIY trellis planter box idea (pictured below), a genius free-standing way of combining privacy screens with greenery!
2. Create beautiful flooring you can take with you!
Depending if your outdoor space is a courtyard or balcony, there’s bound to be a solution out there that will allow you to disguise generic flooring with something fabulous.
This sweet balcony uses IKEA’s ‘Runnen’ click together decking (available in a range of colours) and is just one of the products in their temporary outdoor flooring range. Recently, IKEA added a range of tile-look decking options, which would have seen renters across the globe rejoice!
Another favourite outdoor flooring solution for renters is to simply throw down some outdoor rugs. Jute is a hard wearing and affordable material, or you can find a range of synthetic rugs specifically designed for outdoor use. Check out our guide to selecting the right rug here.
Shop our faves: Outdoor rugs
3. Pretty the space with fairy or festoon lights
An incredibly low-cost way to make your outdoor space feel homely is with ambient lighting.
Fairy and festoon lights are our favourites for outdoor spaces. They immediately add interest and personality… and they’re just so darn pretty! Solar versions of festoon lights tend to fail quite quickly so we suggest investing in a version you plug in (we bought ours from ebay).
Lanterns and hurricane vases with candles are also a nice option to suit all budgets and design styles.
And while these don’t technically light up, paper lanterns are another fab idea to bring some interest to your outdoor space. Simply string them up along the roofline or in the trees for that fun, party feel all year round.
Shop our faves: Outdoor lights and lanterns
4. Embrace pot plants
An outdoor space or balcony needs plants. Whether it’s a crazy jungle set up or just a pot or two, plants instantly breathe life, colour and interest into your outdoor space. Plus you can take your pots with you if you move — perfect for renters!
Try mixing up pots and planters with varying heights and sizes. Group them in clusters to create a real focal point and choose colours and pots to suit your decor or theme. Find yourself some inexpensive terracotta pots, then use these design ideas or maybe these ones, to give them a whole new look!
Be sure to go for plants that live their best lives in pots and that won’t grow too big for your space. Not sure what to pick? This article will help you choose the best pot-loving plants for your balcony or outdoor area.
Shop our faves: Plant essentials
5. Invest in furniture you love
If you can’t change the space dramatically, invest in furniture you want to come home to. Beautiful furniture is one of the best ways to distract from unsightly features of a space — and the best bit, you can take it all with you!
Our tip: Buy flexible items that will work in your next house too… there’s nothing worse than buying the biggest outdoor seating arrangement and finding it won’t fit when you move. Look for modular furniture wherever possible.
6. Add colour and personality with cushions and decor
You may not be able to paint the walls or change the space to your preferred colour scheme but you can do this with your decor!
Given our cushion addiction, you had to know adding cushions would be on the list! Floor cushions, pouffs or just regular outdoor cushions instantly add a pop of colour, texture and interest to your space.
Bold, bright patterns. Simple, soft colours. Matchy-matchy, or eclectically mismatched. Whatever your vibe, cushions are always a good idea! Just be sure to choose good quality cushions in fabrics specific for the outdoors to ensure they last the distance.
Some of our other suggestions when decorating a rental outdoor space include adding beautiful decor pieces. A tray, lantern, cosy throw, hurricane vase, candles, coasters, planter stands… there are so many fab decor items to add life to your outdoor space!
Shop our faves: Outdoor cushions
7. Find ways to squeeze in storage
You can never have too much storage space. Fact. And this rings especially true for renters.
In your outdoor area, with a bit of fore-planning, you can incorporate much-needed storage with some clever thinking. A storage box can double as a bench seat or make-shift table. These are ideal for housing your outdoor cushions, foldable chairs or bits and bobs for your pot plants. It will keep things neat and tidy and can be multi-purpose when the time comes.
We’ve also seen outdoor coffee tables with hidden storage compartments, or if space allows, perhaps a small moveable tool shed will solve your storage needs?!
8. Create yourself an outdoor lounge room
If space permits, an outdoor lounge room is the ultimate entertaining space! When looking for furniture, we suggest a modular-style so it can be modified to suit your space and needs.
Another seating option is to add a hanging chair. The sense of fun, and not to mention comfort, they bring to an outdoor space is hard to beat. If you don’t have rafters like the pic below, look for a free-standing framed hanging chair.
Outdoor beanbags or floor cushions are other relaxed seating options. Go for ones with outdoor covers that can withstand all weather conditions. Leave them in place, or just bring them out when you want to lounge around outdoors.
9. Make the space feel larger and brighter by embracing a mirror
An old stylist trick that works just as well indoors or out, is using a mirror to make a space feel larger and brighter. Mirrors can also be strategically placed for good Feng Shui as Naomi explains in this article.
If you can’t hang a mirror like in the image below, these can often be leaned against a wall for the same visual effect.
10. Maximise space by defining ‘zones’
You may not have a lot of space, but we promise, you can still make it work and create a space you love to spend time in!
Defining ‘zones’ in your outdoor area will help maximise the space and will also make it easier to decorate. For example, the courtyard below is a tiny space yet has a few defined ‘zones’.
A space for outdoor cooking — essential in our minds, especially living in Australia where we spend as much time as possible living outdoors. Seating — in this case, it’s as simple as two chairs and some easy to transport side tables. And then there’s the clever additional seating which doubles as storage.
With added lush plants and twinkly garden lights, it’s an excellent example of how a small space can work when it’s planned well. We also LOVE the addition of the vertical herb garden — talk about garden goals!
11. Take your garden sky-high with a vertical garden
Rental gardens can often be on the smaller side so it pays to think outside the box… and go up! A vertical garden looks beautiful and the perfect idea for decorating a rental outdoor space. And they don’t have to be expensive because you can easily DIY your own!
If you’re able to get your landlords permission to add a permanent one, be inspired by this Kmart hack vertical garden Gina created. Or, if you need a free-standing version, there are some fab options on the market now like the photo below or you could make your own cheap and cheerful pallet garden following our tutorial. Best of all, these gardens can come with you when you leave.
12. Colour me happy with flowers
You may not be able to paint your outdoor space (or maybe you can, it always pays to ask!) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Hanging baskets brimming with colourful annuals or balcony rail pots full of your favourite blooms are a simple way to add colour when decorating an outdoor rental space.
13. Make a splash with a water feature
A water feature is a lovely way to add a sense of calm to your outdoor space. There’s just something so zen about the sound of trickling water! They come in all shapes and sizes so you’re sure to find one to fit your space perfectly.
14. Turn a boring wall into anything but
We’ve already mentioned adding a mirror to your outdoor space, but another idea is to add artwork.
Whether it’s a canvas suitable for the outdoors, resin artwork, or something like these garden metal artworks. They will turn a plain, boring wall into anything but!
Shop our faves: Outdoor decor
Have we given you any ideas for decorating a rental outdoor space? Which is your fave? If we’ve inspired you to give your outdoor area a makeover, we’d LOVE to see before and after pics! Be sure to tag us on Instagram!
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