Making the Most of your Balcony
For many renters, a balcony is your only hope of having any outdoor space.
But sadly, many balconies end up neglected, and that precious outdoor space becomes a bit of a mess to keep behind closed doors.
How do you make a balcony beautiful? They are usually an awkward shape, not very spacious, and made of concrete. You might put out a few plastic chairs and at least have a place to sit, but really, how beautiful can a balcony really be?
The simple truth is that designing a balcony is like designing a room. As in any room, there are key design elements and accessories you can use to pull the look all together. Area rugs, plants, wall hangings, candles and other decorative items can all be used in your outdoor balcony design.
Think about what you want your balcony to be used for; lounging and relaxing? BBQing and dining? Socializing? All of the above? This is how to determine what "room" your balcony will be modeled after.
If your balcony will be used for lounging, think of a bedroom as you design it. Chaise lounges are the bed, a small table is the night stand, and accessorize much like you would a bedroom. Use throw pillows made to withstand the elements, consider keeping a tray near or on one of the loungers for magazines and a solid surface for drinks. Maybe a small solar lamp on the night stand, a room screen for privacy, candles for ambiance, and an outdoor area rug that runs under the chaise lounge to pull it all together.
Want a nice area for socializing? Think living room! Conversation sets can be purchased as a set, or save some money and buy second hand mismatched pieces and paint them all to match (Just make sure you use the right type of paint for the surface you're painting!). Think about side tables, outdoor lighting, candles for decor, plants, etc. to make the room feel complete.
If you plan to use the balcony for dining, then of course you'll be designing a dining room. Things you could include on your balcony dining room in addition to the obvious table and chairs could be a drink cart off to one side, a candle centerpiece or large bouquet of flowers (tip: buy fake flowers for a bouquet that lasts all summer long), pick up a solar chandelier and hang it centered over your table to really do up the dining experience. Since carpeting might end up getting too messy, consider click deck tiles under your dining table and chairs.
If you have a large balcony, you may want to use it for more than one use. Even in this case, you should still separate the sections into rooms with invisible walls. There are tricks to making a single area feel like separate individual spaces. One of the best and most effective ways is to use different flooring. For example, use an area rug in the living room area, and deck tiles for dining. This separates the two areas definitively without adding any obstacles in an already tight space.
So get thinking about how you want to use your balcony, and start enjoying that outdoor space before it's too late! Summer never lasts long enough!