It's not too late — easy ways to style your tiny patio

If you've ever moved into an apartment with a balcony, you know the initial excitement that comes with daydreams of long summer nights spent outdoors, visions of morning coffees under the sun, and aspirations of neighborly cocktail parties at sunset. The initial intention is always to create an outdoor space to rival the greatest landscape artists, so why does our outdoor decor always seem to become an afterthought?

Even though outdoor spaces can't always be used year-round, it's no excuse to leave them undecorated. If you've reached August and your balcony is still a sad empty space - or if you've haphazardly purchased an outdoor set at the local hardware store and called it a day - it's not too late to make your alfresco space Insta-worthy. With a few simple tricks, you can whip your balcony into shape and even extend it into the fall months. Wait no more - the time to transform your balcony is now.

Start with plants. An outdoor area should never be without greenery. Flower boxes and potted plants are an easy, low-cost way to infuse greens into your outdoor space, no heavy lifting required.

Ground it with a rug. Outdoor rugs are prettier than ever, and companies like Dash & Albert are coming up with hundreds of fun and weather-resistant patterns. You ground your living room with a rug, so why not do the same with your balcony?

Embrace the bistro table. Nothing is more satisfying than having breakfast outside and basking in the sun before a long workday. When space is limited, all you need are a couple of chairs and a smaller bistro table.

When in doubt, do stripes. Outdoor stripes are quintessential summer decorating. If you're upholstering furniture, purchasing outdoor pillows, or shopping for an umbrella, always look at thick stripes in bold colors to bring life to your space.

Plant a vertical garden. The easiest way to hide unsightly neighboring balconies is to block the view with a vertical garden. Simply install a trellis, and hang away. Just make sure your building approves it before making significant changes.

Throw in pillows. Don't think you're limited to the pillows that came with your outdoor sofa. Just as outdoor rugs are now more varied than ever, so are their pillow counterparts. This means you can infuse the same decor personality indoors and out!

Consider lighting. Hanging out on your balcony on a balmy summer night is a luxury - as long as you can see around you. If your balcony is covered, consider hanging string lights to create a starry nighttime effect. If it isn't, wall sconces or even candle-filled hurricanes are great alternatives.

Put in the finishing touches. Add final decorating touches with vases, candles and other accents to finish off the space. Treat your balcony as you would any other room in your house to get a layered decor effect.

Warm it up for fall. When temperatures start cooling down in September, extend the season by furnishing your space with throws and sheepskin rugs that will keep you and your guests cozy.

Get the latest on home decor trends, design ideas, shopping guides and food news, and take a look inside your favorite celebrity homes