Improve your balcony

As condo living increases, for many of us balconies have become our summer backyards.

This chic summer balcony design covers up blah concrete with perforated steel grill work.

As condo living increases, for many of us balconies have become our summer backyards.

Tiny in comparison, with concrete instead of grass under foot, it may at first feel like a poor swap. But there is much you can do with a little space, and the best way to enjoy it is to design the balcony as an extension of your indoor living space. If you are just starting out, there are alternatives in outdoor seating that will help you set the style, and you can hide the concrete floor and walls too.

Recently I met some great guys whose company specializes in full service landscaping – Plant Specialists www.plantspecialist.com.

They took a small concrete balcony and made it very hip. They clad the floor and walls of this modern terrace with perforated steel.

What a clever use for a common material that you would recognize as radiator grilling. The perforated steel is sold in manageable sheets with finished edges at hardware and building stores.

There are dozens of patterns, shown here is Grecian, and you can even customize a pattern through a steel supplier. Attach the screen with masonry screws (check your condo rules first to see if you can do this). Stainless steel grills will not rust and you can paint them with metal paint.

Evergreen plants provide a lush backdrop as well as year round privacy. Tall, slender urns take up less floor space and keep the eye moving upward. The conical Kanpasar lights are chic and dramatic, well placed in this ultra modern outdoor lounge.

There are many options for enhancing a balcony floor. New and improved outdoor carpets are durable. And making a comeback is the original AstroTurf, now in blue, red, yellow and gray as well as green and black.

It’s colourful for a bit of whimsy, and always practical.

Handpainted floor cloths are a country-style standard that is easily citified. Floorcloths are made from heavy canvas, cut to fit, hemmed, painted and sealed.

A faster and just as durable method is to paint on the paper-backed side of vinyl flooring.

No hemming is necessary, it wipes clean and you can roll it up and store it during the winter freeze. Any pattern can be painted from traditional flowers and ivies to asymmetric shapes in black and white.

No need to be an artist, simply use stencils, and tape off a strip for borders. Always seal your work with a good quality acrylic varnish.

Floor space is limited, but the outdoor walls offer additional surface area. Shelves, hooks for small plants and overhead lighting will help.

Keep in mind that condo or apartment balconies are seen easily from either the living room or bedroom and the view should enhance your indoor space. The idea of miniature evergreens is a good one, and some all-weather decorating that will stand up well all year round. One or two metal chairs with weather-proof upholstered cushions are useful. Wood or metal artwork hung on the balcony wall is a valuable addition.

A tiny balcony is meant for one or two people. It’s a personal space that allows you the pleasures of outdoors on a small scale.

Treat yourself to an inviting outdoor lounge to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and a bit of greenery. Then relax and enjoy.

Debbie Travis’s House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please e-mail your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com

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