Have you ever wondered if you could be doing more with your balcony or if it has the right furnishings? Recently we have noticed that homeowners have the same questions on their mind, so we have launched a new blog series where we share answers to the questions we are most commonly asked. To get you inspired to embrace your outdoor space, we are starting with balconies.
1. Help … what should I do with my balcony?
Let’s start this one with what you shouldn’t do with your balcony, and that is to use it only as a place for hanging laundry! Your balcony should enhance your lifestyle and ways to use it include lounging and entertaining, or as a balcony garden. There are a few things to consider with this question, so we have broken the answer down into individual tips.
Shift your mindset
The best way to see the potential of your balcony is to reframe your thinking. We often meet people who can only see what they can’t do with their balcony rather than what’s possible. In most situations, however, you can achieve your goals, just on a smaller scale. For example, if you want to grow your own produce, it may not be possible to have a veggie patch, but you can have a raised herb garden and even some potted citrus trees. Start small, focus on the opportunities and you will feel less overwhelmed.
Ask the right questions
The question to ask yourself is this: ‘What do I actually want to use my outdoor space for?’ It is important to think about this carefully – unlike other outdoor areas, it is more than likely that your balcony will only be able to serve a single purpose.
It often happens that people put a barbecue outside because that’s what they think they are supposed to use their balcony for. But if you only use that barbecue a couple of times each summer, you will probably find you will get far more use out of your balcony if you were to put an outdoor sofa there instead and use it as a space for relaxing.
As you are defining the purpose of the balcony, sketch the shape of your space on a notepad and work out how each part of the space will be used – this will help you to understand what’s achievable.
Get the planning right
Another reason that homeowners neglect their balconies is that they are put off by a lack of shelter, shade or privacy. Look at the size and aspect of your space and start to consider how you can address these issues (with respect to any body corporate regulations that may apply to your building). Thinking about these issues will make the space more liveable year round.
If you want to cultivate your own garden, you will need to be mindful that balconies are often exposed to more elements, such as wind and heat. Understanding which plants will tolerate these conditions will ensure the success of your balcony garden. When space is limited, you can integrate greenery by using hanging planters or installing a vertical garden. Not sure what to plant? Our list of top balcony plants features hardy plants that like being potted and don’t mind the heat and wind.
Less is more
Showing restraint is the key to creating a functional space. Cluttering a balcony will make it feel smaller and could inhibit the flow of movement between indoor and outdoor areas. This comes down to the furniture you choose – look for slimline pieces that will fit comfortably in the space.
When considering the decor, consider taking cues from your interiors to ensure there is continuity between the spaces. A sense of cohesiveness is an important part of feeling comfortable when you move between your indoor and outdoor spaces.
2. Will spending money on my outdoor space add value to my home?
In a nutshell – yes. But investing in your outdoor area won’t just add value to your property, it will also improve your health and lifestyle.
When you purchase a property, you are paying for every square metre, so it makes sense to utilise the balcony space you have. Doing so creates an outdoor room that maximises the liveability of your home, in turn elevating your lifestyle.
There is a growing body of research showing the positive connections between plants and people. When we have more contact with plants and the outdoors, stress lowers and this has a positive impact on both physical and mental health. So by investing in your outdoor space, you are making a commitment to improving your lifestyle as a whole.
3. Should I invest in new outdoor furniture?
Whether to purchase new furniture or use what you have depends upon a number of factors. We understand that investing in furniture can be a significant expense, but if your furniture is too large for the space, it can be one of the reasons why you may not use your balcony as often as you would like.
This is generally the case for people who are downsizing from a larger home into an apartment. In these situations, it is often best to start again and invest in the best quality outdoor furniture that your budget will allow. Look for lightweight pieces, UV-resistant outdoor fabrics and furnishings that suit the scale of the space you have.
This is a good opportunity to rethink how you use your balcony. If you don’t have space for a full dining setting, for example, you may choose to purchase bar seating or a small outdoor lounge instead. Or you may even decide to build-in furnishings such as bench seating with storage, as this is a great way to maximise space.
When it comes to pots, once again quality is important. Heavy are generally not suitable on a balcony, as they retain more heat. Look for lightweight pots and use good quality soil and agents like Wettasoil so your plants don’t go thirsty. If you have large plants, put them on wheels so you can move them around to suit seasonal conditions.
Have a question for us?
Over the coming months we will be sharing more advice on courtyards, rooftops and plant selection – so if there’s something you would like to ask us, we’d love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram
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