Condominium balconies, terraces and patios come in endless variations. Whether you have a large, small, wrap around, deep or narrow balcony, it can be a daunting undertaking to start from scratch; particularly when the gorgeous weather rolls around and sense of urgencies run high. Today, we approach beautifying your condo balcony with a five-step formula that will transform your balcony to a Pinterest-worthy wonder.
Remember to set a budget before beginning your summer beautification project or it’ll be easy to get carried away.
Step 1: Flooring
Flooring is the first thing to consider when planning out your terrace. While not something everyone ops for, concrete can be hard to clean and isn’t inviting on bare feet. Luckily, companies such as Ikea have embraced wallet-friendly clip-in flooring. Available in brown, grey and black, this low budget flooring allows you to customize your look from bohemian chic to modern and sleek. For larger patios and terraces, mix and match flooring with outdoor rugs or AstroTurf for a faux-backyard feeling. This brings down your total flooring cost and is a particularly great touch for condo owners with kids and pets.
Step 2: Seating
The bulkiest pieces of furniture (not to mention the priciest) will most likely be your seating/dining sets. Although sometimes the shape and size of your balcony will dictate design and your seating options, it can be daunting to take on large balconies with seemingly endless possibilities. This is a good time to decide what you want to get out of your space. If hosting is something you’ll be doing a lot of you’ll need a bistro set or dining table, in addition to patio couches and an outdoor coffee table. If you think your balcony will be an oasis of solo relaxation, consider using up your space for a hammock, a love seat with big comfy cushions or a lounge chair. You may also want to invest in outdoor storage to house extra blankets and cushions for rainy weather. Depending on the position and floor of your patio, wind may be a factor. Always take precautions to secure elements down; zip ties and string are great discreet options when securing items and provide ease of removal. These large items will often make up the bulk of your budget and space, so it’s a good practice to get them out of the way first.
Step 3: Must Haves
Once you have your lounging/dining areas designated, you can consider other larger items that you simply can’t live without. For some, this may be a BBQ. While some condos prohibit BBQs (check with your condo board to be sure), most allow electric BBQs and provide outdoor power. You may also wish to use that space for something else if your building offers communal BBQs as part of the shared amenities. If you love gardening or fresh herbs, carve out a space for various planters where you can get your green thumb fix.
Step 4: Greenery
Even if gardening isn’t your thing, living without green space can be an adjustment. Luckily a few small additions can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your balcony. Large trees are a great way to block the wind and provide shade. Evergreens are affordable and with proper care will survive an Ontario winter; you may also consider a faux tree for lower maintenance. Planters can be hung along your railing in as little or as large a quantity as you prefer. Go eclectic or classic with varying colours and plant varieties. Again, faux plants are a low maintenance option. Finally, wall panels can be a great way to incorporate a number of different plants or even herbs and instantly make any balcony a bit homier.
Step 5: Personalize
It’s the little touches that make your balcony, yours. Look at items you already own when considering outdoor accents, like serving platters and vases; just consider wear and tear when leaving these items outside. Or you can get whimsical with old fashion watering cans or quirky accents. Garden centres are full of fun and hilarious items to add a touch of eccentricity. Lighting is also a great opportunity to personalize your balconies look. String or twinkle lights romanticize any outdoor space, or use mounted outdoor lightening to keep things contemporary. As always, consult your condo board for what types of lighting is allowed outdoors, and be respectful of your neighbours when using lighting late at night.
This simple five-step plan will get even the most novice outdoor designer up and running. When talking balcony decor however, there are a few extra topics where attention must be paid. Read on for privacy and winterproofing tips and how to tackle even the smallest of balconies.
Need some more visual inspiration to get you on your way? Check out our favorite balconies here.
Depending on your view and floor, you may want to work some privacy-enhancing pieces into your decor. Umbrellas are an easy, affordable way to do this, and come in handy on sunny summer days. You can buy them with stands or reduce their footprint by securing them with zip-ties to your balconies railing. Tall trees or bulky plants can also be used to block off areas, or use bamboo drapes along glass railings and curtains to provide some out of sight space. These elements are also great for blocking wind, but be sure to secure them down.
Storage and Winter-Proofing
While a lot of your summer balcony can be dismantled, think about storage when planning your balconies overall setup. If you have a storage locker where you can store planters, umbrellas, cushions and even BBQs, great! If not, consider an outdoor storage bin that can house these items during the winter months or on rainy days. For pieces too big to pack up and store, such as seating, waterproof covers can be purchased at most home improvement or home decor stores.
Small balconies present the unique challenge of prioritizing furniture. There’s no way around it unfortunately, you just have to decide what you’ll use most. However, this does give you the opportunity to really splurge on a few great pieces. Consider a foldable bistro set and small electric BBQ if you plan to entertain, or splurge on an oversized one seater and side table where you can comfortably spend hours. With safety always in mind, use your balcony railing as additional space; hanging tables are widely available and maximize your area. Or look into multi functioning furniture; seating can be an easy and discreet way to get even more storage out of a space.