Like many city dwellers, if the only outdoor space you have to customize is a balcony, designing a funky and practical outdoor space can seem like a huge challenge. However, with a few tips from House.com.mm, you can transform your little outdoor space into a haven!

Think about the usage of the balcony

Balconies are great spaces for dining. Perhaps you are the sort of person who enjoys an al fresco breakfast, or even the sort of person who likes to be al fresco all the time. Maybe you will be entertaining guests on your balcony. If so, how many seats will you need to accommodate people? Is your balcony only a place for spending relaxation time or will you want to work out on the balcony? If you are keen to bring your laptop outside, you’ll need to think about shady spots to avoid glare on your screen. Making decisions about the kinds of activities that are likely to take place on your balcony will help you to design the space with functionality in mind.

Check how much weight your balcony can take

You don’t want to overload your balcony as this can lead to structural damage and costly repairs, or even worse, injury. If you’re thinking of placing heavy plant pots on your balcony, do your research first. Think about the structures supporting your balcony and check that your plans for the space are within the weight-bearing limitations of the structure itself.

Plan the space

After having done your practical research, you can have a look at the actual space you have to work with and how to make the most of it. Small spaces can be enhanced if the layout of furniture, plants and any appliances is considered with care. Make sure that the space isn’t too cluttered and that anything like a barbeque is positioned in a safe place away from any flammable furniture. Make sure that you take measurements of any furniture that you are considering purchasing for your balcony before you purchase it, and draw on the floor of your balcony with some chalk, marking out where each element should go. Make a small paper plan to take to the DIY store with you (with measurements) and try to visualize what you want the end result to be.

Consider the theme or style you are looking for

Your balcony should be an extension of the style of your home. Are you aiming to fit in with a minimalist theme? If so, consider opting for some Scandinavian-style furniture. Installing a couple of hammocks are an unconventional but impressive way of making the most of your space while adding a quirky touch to your balcony. You could experiment with lanterns and cushions but agree on a color scheme before purchasing items such as this. You may want to stick with natural, neutral colors if you are keen to create a garden-like space where the plants are the focal point.  

If your taste is more bohemian in nature, explore bright colors and influences from countries such as India, adding rich tones. The most important thing to consider when designing a small outdoor space is whether the space is cozy enough. Would you be happy to spend an evening out on your balcony and feel in comfort, even when the air is cool? Make sure that the answer is yes! A great way of achieving this is to introduce warm outdoor lighting and find warm blankets that are suitable outside (and that can easily be stored away).

What kind of seating and table to choose and how to arrange it

If space is limited, finding appropriate seating can seem tricky at first. It doesn’t have to be! The key is to think about practicality, size, angle and comfort. Ideally, any seating you choose will be suitable for spending the night outside. It should be rainproof, or at least have a rainproof cover. Chairs that can fold away are a smart idea, but make sure that they are also comfortable. Test the angle of the chairs and make sure that the chairs fit underneath your choice of table comfortably, without causing a legroom issue. Is the surface soft enough?

Do you want to make yourself a little nest, or a place to eat in an upright position? Is there room for both? These should all be major considerations. Materials such as wicker, with a removable cover, are perfect. You can also think about setting up an outdoor bench for sitting on that also has space inside to store cushions and blankets. Doubling up like this really helps you to maximize the amount of space you have.

Fabrics – how to select appropriate materials

Being able to easily take soft furnishings on and off your balcony and being able to store them is key. To make your balcony as comfortable and relaxing as possible, soft and padded materials are the best. If you’re going to leave materials out all summer, make sure they are waterproof, otherwise, they will get damaged. Choose colors that fit the style you are aiming for. You may want to create a mood board in order to decide upon a color scheme.

What sorts of plants you should purchase

Low maintenance plants are the best kind for a balcony. City-living often means working hard in the daytime, and so your plants should be a source of pleasure and natural delight rather than an evening chore. Window-boxes containing herbs are a lovely idea because not only will herbs look and smell wonderful, but you can also use them in your cooking. Tubs and troughs are also a fantastic idea and try to stick to resilient plants that won’t dry up. Juniper, Gazania and Pelargoniums are some well-known balcony favorites. Fuchsias are also very pretty. In shady spots, ferns are really great, hardy plants. Of course, it depends on the climate, so ask your local garden center for more detailed guidelines about what will grow well.

How to create privacy

Plants are also a great way of creating privacy on your balcony. You can also make relaxation spaces such as a nest or a hammock lower to the ground so that the walls of the balcony give you some additional privacy. Bamboo or reed fencing is another nice way of adding some stylish, yet practical privacy. You could even put up temporary sheer curtains to create a pretty little den!

Creating shade

Tricks like putting up a temporary sheer curtain on a pre-installed wire are really clever! There is also a range of parasols on the market that are great for balconies. Hanging parasols are perfect when there is a lack of space. Larger plants and light, potted trees can also help create shade.

Lighting

In the evening, creating a cozy space can be achieved easily with the right lighting. Candles in glass are a great choice for creating a lovely summer evening ambience. Lanterns can be combined with candles to achieve background light to complement centerpiece lighting (e.g. in the middle of the table). As long as you have a safe and waterproof outdoor electricity supply, specially-designed outdoor lamps could also work.

We hope these tips will help you to create the perfect feel for your balcony. Enjoy cozy summer evenings in the comfort of your own beautiful outdoor space!

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