The condo lifestyle is booming all around the world. As land availability decreases and the need for more homes increases, more and more condominiums are popping up. Condos give the younger generation an opportunity to get into the market and the older generations, empty nest-ers, an option for a smaller home with less maintenance.
With a small home, comes a small outdoor space. These spaces tend to be a slab of concrete and a railing. But just because your outdoor space is small, doesn’t mean you can’t make it special.
We recently did a balcony transformation for a condo owner. They were looking to create a space where they could relax as well as entertain on the weekend. Here are 5 simple ways you too can transform your cement cave into an outdoor oasis.
*Disclaimer* check your condo rules and regulations beforehand. Every board has their own set of rules and this can vary by location.
1. Warm up the Floor
Let me guess – the floor of your balcony is an unfinished concrete slab. It’s cold, rustic, dirty and makes you feel like you are in a warehouse, not a home.
Most condo rules will not let you adhere anything to the balcony floor but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something on the floor. There are all kinds of outdoor flooring options available on the market now that don’t require adhesive to install. They come in a verity of different materials from wood to plastic and even rubber and fake grass. Installation is quick and easy; anyone can do it. This material simply clicks together and lays over-top of your existing floor. You can also have fun with it and create your own pattern or combination of textures or colours.
By adding an outdoor floor covering, you will give your balcony a finished feel. It will be warmer, cleaner and more inviting. To take it to the next level, add an outdoor area rug as well. A rug will add softness to the space and help ground the furniture – make them feel like they aren’t floating in the space.
2. Add Privacy
If you have walls or a divided balcony, a great way to make it feel cozy is by adding your own touch to the walls. Concrete walls came feel cold and like a jail cell. Hide these walls by covering them with lattice or bamboo screening. This will make the concrete wall feel more like an outdoor privacy wall in a luxury garden. The same can be done on the inside of the railing to hide a rusting railing (in older buildings) or to give you some additional privacy with a glass railing.
In most condominiums you can get away with attaching some things to the walls. That could be a hanging basket, planters or décor. They would prefer that anything and everything on the balcony be secured so that in the case of high winds, nothing is flying off. That said, it does need to be removable. No adhesive.
3. Create Scenery
One of the things that makes being outside so peaceful is the scenery. More specifically the greenery – the lawn, trees, bushes and gardens. Even in the concrete jungle of the city, you can still bring these elements into your space.
Faux Greenery – there are a lot of different version of fake ivy wrapped screening available. Some are on a mesh; some are square similar to the outdoor flooring and some are wrapped around trellises. These are a great way to add privacy and greenery to your balcony. They are low maintenance for those people like me that do not have a green thumb or if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure. Plus, it’s a way to have greenery year-round.
Wall Vines – for those of you that do have a green thumb, growing your own ivy is another way to add greenery to the surroundings. It’s great to have flower pots but bringing the greenery up the walls and across, will give you privacy and make you feel like you are out of the city.
Planters – planters designs have come a long way the last few years. From different sizes and shapes; hanging or stack-able; modern to farmhouse style and even self-watering.
When choosing plants, pick colours that speak to you. Play with different heights and try some plants that could be brought indoors in the winter. Make sure you pay attention to the sunlight requirements before you buy.
4. SIT… Stay A While
When choosing patio furniture, think about how you are using your balcony. Will you be having your morning coffee there or evening dinners? Will it be a place to relax and read or somewhere you entertain friends and family? The answers to these questions will determine if you need a bistro-like set or a conversation, lounge seating.
Once you know the way it will be used the next, and most important, thing is to find the furniture. You want something that suites your functional needs but is also size appropriate. If the furniture is too large, it will make the balcony cramped and impact the use. If the furniture is too small, the balcony will lose that cozy feeling and actually feel unfinished, like something is missing.
There are companies like JYSK that have great condo-size (smaller scaled) outdoor furniture but don’t be afraid to mix n’ match. If you find a chair that you love but 4 of them won’t fit in your space, find a bench to pair with it for the additional seating. Benches have a slimmer profile and often come with storage options under the seat (BONUS).
5. Finishing Touches – Textiles & Décor
Just like inside the home, décor and textiles add character and warmth to your outdoor living space. Adding cushions and pillows to your furniture will soften the look of the space, making it feel cozy; the same as adding a rug did.
Wall art and accessories will add interest and character to your balcony. It will also give it a finished look.
And finally, think about adding lighting. On a condo balcony, were outlets aren’t readily available, outdoor solar lights are a great option. Plus, they will give a romantic vibe to the environment while enjoying those summer night cocktails.
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