Apartment lovers, this one’s for you. Over the past few months we’ve have hundreds of requests for advice and tips on balcony design. With more people choosing apartment living and with summer just around the corner, we thought we’d bring you our best design and styling tips so you can create your ultimate balcony bliss!
Designing your balcony requires careful planning so that every inch of space is maximised. Before you get too excited and start making purchases, we recommend that you check the structural loading capacity of your balcony, not only so that you are safe but so that you know what materials to use. If you have a small loading capacity, you may need to opt for lightweight materials. Your builder will be able to provide you with these details.
REVIEW YOUR SPACE AND HOW YOU’LL USE IT
Consider how you plan to use your balcony throughout the seasons. Depending on location, balconies are usually put to good use by their homeowners all year round. But if you live in a coastal area that is exposed to harsh wind and salty air, during winter you’ll need to take this into consideration before you begin your design, as this will impact your choice of materials and plants.
FURNITURE AND SCALE
Unlike single dwellings where the outdoor space may be detached from the home, a balcony is the natural extension of a home, so carrying out the styling of your interiors will ensure you have a seamless décor. Choosing a retro setting for your balcony when your living room is glam is a big no-no! If you have a fairly big balcony, you’re lucky, because you can afford to create seating or hang out zones with the right placement of furniture and plants. If not, then remember to leave ample space around your furniture, making sure that passage areas are free and not cluttered. When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture the options are endless, however scale is very important. You may fall in love with an outdoor lounge that looks amazing, but if it’s not weather resistant or if it’s too big for your space, you must resist the temptation to purchase it because you will regret it later.
CREATE THE ILLUSION OF SPACE
Layering is our best trick when it comes to creating the illusion of space. You can create visual layers with plants by grouping tall ones with shorter bushy type plants. Add an outdoor rug, or panels of outdoor wooden decking that is easy-to-lay. If space permits add some poufs, which can adapt to your set up and can even be used indoors. If it’s small, surrender the idea of a matching coffee table for your lounge and use side tables like drums, or stools instead, which can be manoeuvred around easily saving you space whilst adding visual appeal.
There has never been a better time to accessorise your outdoor space as we have an endless choice of accessories that are weather resistant. Embrace cushions, throws and towels, which are made out of UV and mould resistant fabrics, and can be easily washed after a party or a full season in the sun. Accessorise with lighting for an ambient feel; think strings of fairy lights, candles, votives and impressive lanterns. All these finishing touches have the capacity to completely transform your balcony.
MAKE IT LUSH
Plants create an incredible ambience that promotes a sense of calm and brings the outdoors in. Monitor the amount of sunlight you receive and the direction it comes from. If you receive the hot afternoon sun you will need to choose plants that can handle that amount of heat and sunlight.
No sun? No problem; tropical plants like kentia palms and cordylines thrive in a low light environment.
Consider the size of your plants in proximity to your space. For small balconies, consider using window boxes to grow herbs or flowers. Contemporary versions of these window boxes come in many designs and colours, and can be easily installed on your balcony railing. If you’re really limited for space, consider the espalier method; where trailing plants can be trained to grow on stainless steel wire in the shape and size you want. You could have them growing around your window, on a vertical column or against an unsightly wall that needs camouflaging. For an evergreen option, consider a bougainvillea, or the hardy Chinese star jasmine.
Image credits: 1. www.gardenworld.com.au, 2. Marina Mara, 3 & 4. www.decoist.com, 5. www.trendenser.se