If you're lucky enough to have a small balcony, patio or porch, don’t just ignore it and fret about the size. Just think how nice it would be to step outside for a morning coffee before work, enjoy an al fresco lunch or sit down with a book at the end of the day and watch the sun go down… Bliss!
Now that you’ve thought about what you want your balcony to do, think about how you want it to look in order to give some form to its function. You can basically do just about anything you like with your balcony – as long as it checks out with your local planning or condo board restrictions – so don't be afraid to let your imagination go a little wild!
Keep in mind the style of the room your balcony is next to, as you can look out and see it from within, and take into account the period and style of your house to ensure that your dressed outdoor space compliments the outside of the house. That said, even modern iconic furnishings can really rock a home…
You can also use your balcony to help problem-solve certain aspects of your home. An outdoor table for two could serve as a seasonal dining area. Soften your outlook and add visual interest using plants, sculptures or lighting. Make sure you don’t obscure the amount of natural light coming into your home and don't forget to consider how much weight your balcony can withstand to ensure that your new addition doesn't end up on the sidewalk. As with all projects, think twice, buy once!
Approach your balcony design the same way you would any other room: by deciding on which furnishings are required and where you intend to place them. Think about what time of day you’re most likely to use the space and position items accordingly. It’s definitely worth buying classically styled furnishings that won’t date and then seasonally adjusting everything with accessories to move with the times.
If you can't paint your outdoor walls, add colour and drama using soft furnishings and accessories. A couple of bright cushions can transform an outdoor sofa, for example, as a tablecloth can brighten up a table. Use plants and flowers to add nature’s changing palette to your space and place them in large planters for a clean and modern look. Tip: use the planters to reinforce the shape of your balcony by positioning them at each corner.
It’s a great idea to extend the same colour and style of flooring from indoors to out, thus creating an ‘infinity’ effect. You could use matching indoor and outdoor wood flooring to achieve this look, but the outdoor sections will obviously need to be weatherproofed. You could also tile, paint or even lay a fake grass lawn, as long as your condo board approves. We weren't allowed to change the floor of our Toronto balcony but, undaunted by the rules, we added attractive outdoor rugs that immediately created texture and colour.
If you’re lucky enough to have an exterior gas supply or are allowed to use portable gas appliances, then you’ll be able to add a barbecue for outdoor cooking and maybe even a patio heater so that you can extend your al fresco time for months to come, even in winter! Both items will add to the fun and value you get from your outdoor space and are investments in your happiness. Ahhh, we feel warmer already…
All lighting falls into three camps: task, mood and decorative. Task lighting allows you to do something – like a sensor light that comes on automatically when night falls, while mood is all about setting the scene – such as a candle storm lamp on a dining table, for example. To enhance your decor, install a row of floor-mount lamps that highlight the shape of your balcony by night or, for modern glamour, use small LEDs wrapped around topiary balls. Solar-powered lighting, although not as bright as its hardwired counterpart, can be used at floor level or spiked into planters to bathe the balcony in a gentle glow.
If storage is an issue, then why not invest in a waterproof storage chest that can be used year-round? Opt for a low level version, pop a seating cushion on the top and you’ve got major double duty seating and storage in one!
Country Bistro Balcony: use a small collapsible table and chairs with a paint finish. Accent with painted wooden rails, plank flooring and country inspired gingham tablecloths and napkins. Flowers should be casual and simple; pop a few blooms in a jam jar or an old teapot for a cute country twist.
Colonial: for a classic style – think Singapore’s Raffles Hotel and use wicker Lloyd Loom-style chairs and tables, white outdoor drapes and painted ornate wooden pots and figures.
Zen Garden: Use wood or bamboo furniture that sits low, and is square and chunky. Water features and lanterns work well. Flooring could be rush matting and plants should be shaped and housed in cubist pots or troughs.
Modernist: Square-shaped corner outdoor sofas, glass tables and outdoor LED cubes are a must for this look.