My friends Matt and Alex recently moved from a studio apartment to a (by contrast) luxurious 1 bedroom apartment with a balcony. Not only have I been impressed with how quickly they made their new space feel like home, but having lived in such a tiny place together, they've really made the most of the apartment, going so far as to turn their balcony into a whole other living room without spending a fortune.
Lucky for them their balcony is pretty deep and a roof overhangs most of it so they don't have to worry too much about things getting wet in the weather. Their deck also has glass sliding doors onto the living room and their bedroom, so there are views onto the balcony pretty much from anywhere in the apartment. So it was important to them to really make a space of it and not just where the park their bikes and the bbq. So when you look out you see an inviting outdoor living space complete with an outdoor rug that lines the whole balcony (from home depot) with a Flokati on top (a cast off from Matt's office) and a set of outdoor furniture in brown (to go with their whole apartment's brown and green theme). They bought the set at Albertsons, of all places, for a steal. Matt's collection of plants and Alex's herb garden make the balcony feel private and lush but were inexpensive since they've been cultivating them for a while. And with an added set of shelves in the corner (another cast off) covered in some thick canvas, they've been able to incorporate storage into the small space without it being obtrusive or unsightly. the finishing touch is a favorite: a simple yellow lamp made for the indoors but perfect for a sheltered nook. It adds a pop, some lighting but looks simple and modern.
We're really impressed with what they've been able to do (and hope they keep inviting us over for bbq's).