I Sent 3 Designers Photos of My Balcony — Here’s How They Redecorated It with IKEA Finds

published Jun 22, 2024
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this is the 22nd UK IKEA Store. IKEA, founded in Sweden in 1943, is the world's largest retailer of ready-to-assemble or flat-pack furniture.
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Confession: I’ve lived in my apartment for over two years, but I still haven’t decorated my patio yet. Yes, even though I write about home decor and design for a living (I know). With summer fast approaching, though, I’m determined to finally turn the sad space into a stylish outdoor oasis where I can enjoy a morning cup of coffee … or end the day sipping on the drink of the season.

For some expert guidance, I tapped three interior designers and challenged them to decorate my patio using only items from IKEA. I also gave them a strict $300 budget — and they delivered. Below, check out their (very different!) picks for taking my rental apartment patio from drab to Instagram-worthy.

Credit: Megan Beauchamp

Option 1: A Private Patio Haven

“For an apartment with a small patio, maximizing the space with items that are both functional and fun is essential,” explains Jill Bradshaw, the principal designer and founder of Jill Bradshaw Interiors. To strike that tricky balance, one of the key pieces she chose for my patio was a NÄMMARÖ privacy screen. “[It’s] a great piece because you can hide items (or your neighbors!) behind it, and it looks very serene and lovely, to boot,” she notes.

She also selected a sunny orange SUNDSÖ table and chair set to give my patio a playful pop of color. Then she grounded it with a neutral KORSNING flatwoven rug. “I love pairing bold colors with neutrals, and I love how the bright red patio furniture works with the striped olive green rug,” Bradshaw explains. To round out the hues with a lighter shade, she added a pale blue NYPON pot, as well. 

For a touch of nature, she opted for an ASKHOLMEN flower box in dark brown. “The flower box is another statement piece that ties back to the wood screen and provides a beautiful spot to house your plants and flowers,” explains Bradshaw. 

Option 2: A Soirée-Ready Space 

To elevate the overall look of my patio, designer Kerry Vasquez suggested I install RUNNEN outdoor decking tiles in stained brown. “If your balcony is 4 feet by 9 feet, they will run you about $120 and [are] worth every penny, if you ask me,” explains Vasquez. “Texture is everything, and these tiles add texture, visual variety, and contrast.”

She also recommended I upgrade from my rental’s harsh overhead outdoor lighting by hanging up UTSUND string lights. “My first boss in [New York] always said 90% of design is lighting, and these string lights add instant ambiance,” she explains. “Lighting is also all about levels of light, which leads me to my next pick — the chicest mod, Darth Vader-esque lamp/bluetooth speaker. It also happens to be the perfect sage green color of the moment, which I fully endorse.”

Vasquez finished her dreamy vision for my new space with a matching sage TÄRNÖ table and chair set. “Be prepared to host all the summer soirées this year,” she told me.

Option 3: A Cozy Upgrade

Interior designer Cynthia Tran, principal designer and founder of Cynthia Lananh, chose products that prioritize comfort. “I love having throw pillows and throw blankets in any seating area where I intend to host guests to make a space feel cozy and inviting,” she says. Her recommendations: a VALLKRASSING cushion cover (with a corresponding FJÄDRAR pillow) and a VALLKRASSING throw.

She also chose a SOLVINDEN table lamp to brighten up my patio. “Having simple, warm ambient lighting is always a plus when creating that cozy outdoor space for you and your guests to enjoy,” Tran explains. The designer didn’t ditch my existing outdoor set (a classic TÄRNÖ), but advised getting a LYDERSHOLM rug to continue the thread of creating a cozy and warm atmosphere.

For my patio corner, Tran shared two affordable products: a GRADVIS plant pot and a CHILIFRUKT watering can. “I love the simple and elevated look of these pots, and I always recommend grouping two or three plants together in different shaped pots and sizes to help ground a corner of a garden or seating area,” she explains.

Because I plan on having friends and family over this summer, she recommended getting PASSERAD double wall glasses, gray IVRIG glasses, and a STORSINT carafe, as well. “I love IKEA glassware and think these are perfect to use for hosting,” she says. “Lastly, I love having a vase of fresh florals for when guests arrive. These IKEA vases are a really cute size and shape and perfect for a fresh floral arrangement for an outdoor dinner or seating lounge space.”