The Intentional Apartment: Furniture and Accessories For Small Outdoor Spaces

That balcony is better for more things than just stashing your 21 speed.

Now that summer is in full swing, I find that there’s nothing better than sipping a beer on the porch after a long day at work. But if you’re living in the city, outdoor space can be quite a commodity. Even if you’re lucky enough to have it, sometimes it’s difficult to find furniture that’s small enough to fit comfortably in your space. Outdoor furniture is often sold in sets, and produced to fill up large backyards – not fit onto small apartment balconies. So today I wanted to share some great options for those of us with smaller outdoor spaces… things that fold up, collapse down, or just don’t take up much space to begin with. None of these items will leave a hole in your wallet, either.

Patio furniture for small balcony

The first thing you’ll need for your deck or porch is seating. Many of these options fold up so they won’t hog your closet space when they’re not in use during the winter. They are also light enough to easily shift from place to place depending on your needs.

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Feel like building something yourself?

Our table tutorial will also work great for a balcony.

The Intentional Apartment: Make an Industrial Side Table

1. Tarno Bistro Furniture Set from Ikea $49.99

The Tarno Bistro Furniture Set from Ikea has a clean look with dark steel legs. The compact table will hold a couple of beers and some burgers. It will easily tuck into the corner of a small balcony, and folds away when not in use.

2. Malaro Outdoor Furniture Set from Ikea $196.99

The Malaro Outdoor Furniture Set from Ikea is a bit larger, with room to seat four people. It will also fold up, so no need to worry about where you’ll store it during the winter months.

3. 3 Piece Patio Set from Target $62

For a more industrial look (and a pop of color) try this 3 piece patio set from Target. It is made of durable yet lightweight powder-coated steel that will stand up to the elements.

4. Zero Gravity Chair from Amazon $42.99

Planning on doing more lounging rather than eating? Then try a couple of these relaxing Zero Gravity chairs from Amazon. The comfortable armrests and padded headrest will have you asleep in two seconds flat.

Grills for apartments with small balconies or porches

Another important element of any outdoor space is a grill. It may be tempting to buy a huge, expensive monstrosity of a grill, but it just doesn’t make sense if space is limited. Why have a deck if you don’t have any room left to sit down? Here are a few compact options that are perfect for smaller patios and decks.

5. Folding Portable Charcoal Grill from Crate and Barrel $49.95

This portable grill can be taken anywhere… just fold it up and stick it in the accompanying bag. It also looks pretty cool.

6. Portable Stainless Steel Grill and Smoker from Amazon $145.94

This compact little number does double duty as both a grill and a smoker. It weighs just eight pounds and also includes a handy carrying case.

7. Handrail BBQ Grill from Connox 59.00 € (approx. $78 USD)

If you’re working with very limited space, this is probably the grill for you. Instead of taking up valuable tabletop real estate, this one attaches right to the handrail.

8. Weber Compact Grill from Target $29.99

This sturdy little grill can handle 9.4 pounds of food at one time, but it won’t take up too much surface area on your porch.

Small patio or balcony accessories

Next we have some accessories that will complete your space and lend some ambiance. Again, none of these items have a large footprint so you and your friends will have space to move around.

9. Solar Hanging Lantern from Bonanza $24.50

Lighting is crucial for any outdoor space. This solar powered lantern is both environmentally friendly and convenient – there are no cords to deal with, and no outlets needed. Most importantly, this lantern can be hung from a hook to save space.

10. Little Buddy Propane Heater from Amazon $57.99

You might want to invest in a small heater for those chilly fall nights. This tiny propane one made by Mr. Heater won’t take up much room, but it will take the edge off of those cold breezes.

11. Terminix Mosquito Repeller from Amazon $14.99

If bugs are a problem in your area, then this mosquito repeller is a must. It’s only 5 inches wide, but it will protect areas of 15×15 feet.

12. Landmann Outdoor Fireplace from Amazon $88

If you have enough open grass or patio space for a small portable fire pit or chiminea, then try this Landmann wood-burning fireplace. It has a wire mesh exterior so that the fire is visible from all angles. And it’s lightweight so it can be easily transported.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a balcony or a porch, there’s no reason to leave it empty just because it’s tiny. It’s only a matter of finding the proper furniture and accessories to maximize your space. The key is to find pieces that are small, collapsible or portable to take advantage of the area that you do have. And if you’re lucky, you might just hit a sale now that it’s August.

Faith Towers is a designer and writer with a passion for all things creative. She received her art degree from Skidmore College, and her work has been featured in many well-known publications such as Forbes, Yahoo and Curbly. Visit her blog Design Fixation for more creative inspiration.

  • TJ

    I like that first set from Ikea. I will definitely have to pick that up. As for grills, make sure you check with your apartment manager/complex. A lot of places won’t let you have grills on your porch.

  • Jordo

    I made the Industrial Side Table from an earlier atricle for our outside patio table between two adirondack chairs I built from plans on Ana-White.com — feels better placing your butt in something you made with your hands!

    • night_fate

      dude, I am starting to love that site. It’s almost becoming my first stop when we need new furniture, and since I just moved into a new place, that’s turning out to be a lot.
      Home hand made saves the day

  • Jim

    Regarding the grills, one of the powers that grilling brings to the party is that a good grill lets you harness all three methods of heat transfer: radiation, conduction, and convection. This lets you cook food as fast or slow as you want, get a good sear on steaks, and get food to cook evenly. But to do this, you must have a good, tight fitting, smooth lid to your grill. Otherwise, the convection currents in the air just dissipate into the aether. The Weber does this for $30 and does it very well. I have seen some grills do it better, but then we’re talking about much larger, much more expensive models. For $30, the Weber really cannot be beat. They hold a good volume of charcoal and have an excellent ash control system. Their lids are tight fitting and smooth to encourage convection, and they are very well balanced in weight and durability. I dropped one off a third floor balcony once and all it got was one medium dent which was easily removed with a hammer in about 30 seconds. Yes, it landed in grass, but it still fell three stories. My only complaint with the Weber is that for some foods that want really, really high heat (seared ahi tuna for example,) they can be a little lacking. However, this is easily remedied with a little forced air induction. Just make sure your significant other is okay with their blow dryer smelling like barbeque.

    TL;DR: The Weber really has earned its title as the breed standard for small charcoal grills.

    I encourage anyone thinking about getting into this field of cookery to try the Weber first and invest the money you would have spent on a more expensive grill on a chimney starter and quality lump charcoal. Trust me, they’re worth it, since briquettes have petroleum products in them as a binder that make even the best steak taste like a car tire, and lighter fluid just tastes like gasoline. Worst case scenario, you’re out $30, best case, you’ve got a great grill that will last you years and you’re only out $30.

    • Joel

      Good lord do you own the company? Nice review, though, and you make a good point. That foldable grill seems nice but no lid means stay away.

      • Jim

        Haha, it is a bit much, isn’t it? But no, I don’t own the company or anything. I just love to cook, but especially love grilling. Something about cooking a big slab of beast over an open fire just feels manly.

        But to be fair and honest, I should go more into the faults with the Weber, which I had originally pared down for length.

        Weber grills in particular have two “major” faults. The first one is their paint. It simply doesn’t hold up as well as their competitors. It’s still got a good amount of durability, mind, and it’s not like all of the paint is going to wash off the first time you leave it out in the rain. But the Webers will be the first ones to fade and wear. Barring of course the $5 grill that “fell off the back of a truck,” but nobody includes those anyway.

        The second fault that Weber grills have is their weight, or rather lack of it. Now, on the $30 model shown, I actually consider this a good thing, since part of its purpose is to be easy to carry and pack away and low weight helps this. In fact, really the issue with Weber grills is the top-heaviness caused by the empty grill’s low weight. On the full size models, the longer legs lift up all the weight of the charcoal and make them a bit top-heavy and wobbly. The little $30 Weber’s stubby little legs do a lot to eliminate this issue so it isn’t a problem there. But on the full size models, I find that some of the Webers can be a bit too easy to knock over.

        Honestly, top-heaviness is going to be an issue with any charcoal grill and it’s something to look out for, I just find Weber grills to be hit-or-miss on it. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to check. Just take a look at the floor model and push it around a bit. If you can give it a gentle push and feel the need to grab it, it’s probably not stable enough to fill with burning hot coals. For that matter, if you are looking for a stand-alone grill, I heartily advise you don’t buy any grill you can’t inspect on the store floor. You’re going to be standing in front of the thing and living around it taking up real-estate on your deck, it’s worth it to “test drive” it a little in the store and see if it fits you before you lug it home and assemble it from its 6,000 pieces that shall never return to the box from whence they came.

  • http://thechairmarket.com/ Sarah Tremblay

    These things are really amazing. I am planning on buying grill and barbeque for myself. I really like to enjoy the evenings outside of my house and taking fresh air.

  • Tom

    I also like that Ikea set and will probably be getting that. Great article, Faith, with some good ideas. Thank you.

  • Olivia Heartelly

    It seems to me that the “zero-gravity” position is the thing that this seat is planned for. That is, tilted the way back so the occupant’s lower back is completely decompressed and the knees are raised. I expect all the zero-gravity seats work fine in this position.
    TheFrenchDesignCompany.com