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How to decorate a balcony

For many townhouse and flat dwellers, spending time in the garden is a tiny shaded balcony that overlooks a neighbour's balcony or garden. There are ways to make the space feel more welcoming and private, and here are some ideas to help you:

 

A balcony should be another room in your house — not your storage closet. Too often, balconies become a repository for old furniture, toys, chairs, and broken things. Don’t let it happen to you! Your balcony is your outdoor den and dining room. Treat it that way.

Consider flooring carefully. The type of flooring you choose will have a major impact on the look and feel of your balcony. White and light colour tiles feel modern and give the impression that a balcony is a continuation of the indoor environment. They work well in modern buildings and high rises with an urban feel. Rough terra cotta tiles lend a balcony a feeling of warmth. Terra cotta feels natural in older buildings, especially those with a Spanish or Mediterranean influence. Wooden decks lend a balcony a rustic, outdoorsy feel that can go traditional or modern.

Buy patio furniture, but not too much of it. Unless you’ve got a huge space and a large family, keep it simple. A lounge chair and a small bistro set are probably all you need. Invest in pieces that can be stacked or folded away. If you’ve got a long or wide balcony, consider dividing the space with planters to create a dining area, a lounging area, a reading area. Aim for a balcony that, when fully furnished, allows you to move about freely without shifting furniture around.

Consider plant containers your second major investment. Landscaping is truly the make or break aspect of decorating a balcony. Before you buy one plant, consider what kind of look and feel you’re going for and choose plant containers accordingly. Long low troughs are great for planting tall hedges and bushes. Window boxes allow you to plant colorful flowers but don’t interfere with floor space. Colourful pots and individual planters give your balcony a more eclectic and casual feel. Choose pots with a unifying theme or colour which will prevent your balcony space from feeling cluttered. Look for planters with strong sculptural shapes to add interest.

Invest in the right plants. If privacy is an issue, you might consider low sandstone troughs planted with tall conifers or ficus hedges that will screen the view of your balcony from the street but not your own view onto the world. If you’re looking for more privacy, opt for a trellis that will allow you to plant crawling vines beyond the height of the balcony railing. For a formal and traditional look, consider topiary. For a more modern look, consider grasses, yucca and agave plants. If you want a lush tropical feel, palms are the way to go. And if you’re looking for colour choose flowering bushes like Gardenia or Jasmine.

Try something new. Yes, flowers and flower boxes are classic and beautiful. But why not add a little herb garden, a small vegetable garden, or even a zen rock garden? If you choose the appropriate container systems, all of these varieties of gardens are possible.

Add water. A standing or table fountain or a small bird bath can transform a balcony into a soothing, serene, nature-filled space.

Add sculpture. Balcony owners seldom utilise the opportunity to use sculpture, but when you think about it, the balcony can be a perfect place for it. Look for heavier sculpture meant to endure the elements and withstand wind.

Enjoy it! Make the most of whatever outdoor space your have. As you use your space regularly you’ll come up with all sorts of fantastic ideas to improve your outdoor space.

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