If you live in a small urban apartment or condo, you can relieve any claustrophobia and enjoy the outdoors with a smartly styled balcony. Here’s how to create a refreshing, park-like space just outside your door.
How will you use your balcony?
The size and shape of your balcony determines how you can use it and how you should furnish it. If you have a narrow rectangular balcony and want to dine al fresco, a rectangular table is more likely to fit your space than a small café-style table and chairs. Those round tables are a better fit for a square balcony. An alternative would be a bar and stools along the long side of the balcony railing. A narrow space could fit an outdoor rattan sofa, a coffee table and perhaps even a chair or two. If the space is so small that you must choose between a dining table or seating to lounge on, go for the relaxing space.
Don’t forget to check with your landlord, property manager or homeowners association for any restrictions about what you can place on your balcony. There may be rules against umbrellas that can fly away, grills that may violate fire codes applicable to multi-unit buildings, or similar issues.
The lighting sets the mood
Chances are that your existing lighting comes from a simple wall sconce beside the door or a plain overhead fixture. You may be able to replace existing fixtures with something more fashionable. You also can create ambiance around these simplistic fixtures by adding string lights overhead or draped along the balcony railing. Safe, battery-operated floor lanterns placed along the balcony’s perimeter are another option.
Creating privacy on your balcony
If you want nearly complete privacy, use standing screens alongside the balcony railings. If you’d like to see your neighbors for a sense of community, a mix of plants and accessories can leave you a view while still granting some cover for your personal space.
In an urban setting, adding plants brings the feel of a park or nature area home to your balcony. Tall, bushy plants provide some privacy but also infuse life and color into your space. Blooming flowers in planters add vibrancy. Hanging plants from overhead or on tiered shelves in a corner bring the color to eye level and above. Choose plants that bloom one after the other to maintain color most of the year.
Soften hard surfaces
Place an outdoor area rug beneath the furniture. This will soften the look and feel of the concrete floor and create the perception that the outdoor space is an extension of the indoor living room. A bamboo mat is both durable and beautiful. Don’t forget plush pillows to soften the seating and complete the relaxing setting.
If you really want to relax
Who says a hammock must be strung between two trees in the country? Even in the heart of the city, a freestanding hammock or hanging chair can turn your balcony into a place to read till you’re sleepy.
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