Many of us live in buildings that have balconies. But, how many of you don’t go out there unless it’s to check the weather? Maybe you haven’t decorated it there yet. Why not? Is it because you feel limited by space? Is it because of budget considerations? Lack of inspiration? Don’t have a good view? Not sure if you’ll use?

Well, whether you own or rent your apartment, there are some super cute and fun ideas you can use to spruce up your balcony. You’re paying for the space whether you use it or not, so why not make it your own?

Decide whether you want to undertake this project by yourself or if you want to pull in the help of a designer. Our skills don’t end at the door. Many designers have worked on balconies, patios and backyards in past projects and would love to help you!

For starters, pick a style or look that you want to achieve. If you’re not sure, browse around your favourite social sites or search engines to get a feel of what you like. Create an album on your phone or Pinterest Board with all the ideas you love.

Once you’ve collected a bunch of images, take a look at the overall library. I bet you’ll start to see a pattern in the looks that you’ve selected. Do the images feature dinette sets? Is there an outdoor sofa? Perhaps you found a bunch of images where people turned wood palettes into cozy seating with tons of throw pillows and candle lanterns. Maybe there’s a common colour scheme or a design style. Maybe the commonality is the way the space is meant to be used.

How you plan to use the space is a very important factor. Some people want to use the space as an entertaining area, some want an outdoor area to curl up and read a book. Maybe just to chill out and have a couple of glasses while feeling the breeze in your hair. Ask your roommates or family members how they would use the space.

It’s time to assess the balcony now. Step outside and make note of the questions below:

  • Is it open on all sides or enclosed except facing out?
  • Is there a cover, awning or another balcony above?
  • Is the barrier metal bars, glass panels, or concrete?
  • How is your view? Do you want to make it the focus or hide it?
  • Would you rather have some privacy when you are out there?
  • How high up are you?
  • Will the stuff you put out there get wet or get blown around?
  • What direction does the balcony face? How much sun does it get?
  • Is there any exterior lighting? Is it enough?
  • How extreme are the seasons you live in? Can you leave the items out? there all year round or will you need to bring stuff in to store it during winter?
  • Do you have the space to store those items if need be?

Knowing the space you’re working with is super important. You need to know its’ strengths as well as its’ weaknesses. What to accentuate and what to hide and what makes sense to have out there and what does not. Once you’ve settled on a look and on the usage, it’s time to read your lease or check with the building management to find out if there are any restrictions in place that could alter the way you decorate this space.

Now it’s time to grab that measuring tape and notepad. Measure the balcony inside the barrier. Measure the door leading to the balcony. If you have a normal door instead of a slider, they are not always as wide as interior doors. You don’t want to find the perfect outdoor sofa, purchase it and get it home only to find it doesn’t fit through the door.

  • When measuring, be mindful of:
  • Windowsills that protrude further than the wall.
  • If you will be blocking the view from any of the windows.
  • If you use a window or portable ac unit, will this affect your layout?
  • How much space your door needs to open (if any).

Now that you’ve gathered the information you need to make some decisions, it’s time to plan a layout based on your wants and needs. Do you need space for a small garden? How many people do you need to seat? Will the kids or pets be in and out?

Once you have a game plan in mind, it’s time to shop around! You can opt to hire someone to build custom furniture specific to your dimensions, DIY something yourself or shop around online and in local outdoor showrooms. Just make sure that everything you purchase has been okayed for outdoor use.

What type of seating are you looking for:

  • Dinette
  • Muskoka chairs
  • Big floor cushions
  • Outdoor sofa
  • Built-in bench
  • What hard surfaces do you plan to introduce:
  • Dinette
  • End table between two chairs
  • Coffee Table
  • C shaped pull-up tables
  • Hook-on rail balcony table
  • How do you plan to decorate:
  • Throw blankets & pillows
  • String lights wrapped around the railing
  • Lanterns with faux candles
  • Outdoor rugs
  • Will you add lattice or another feature for privacy?
  • Do you want flowers and plants? Herbs and vegetables or neither?
  • Will you use hanging planters, rail planters or floor pots?

Maintenance Tips:

  • There are many different types of sprays you can add to your outdoor fabrics to make them more water-resistant.
  • Get a slipcover that is easy to put onto your furniture when it’s not in use.
  • Use zip-ties to secure easily blown over items, to the rail or other fixed/heavy objects.
  • Put together a little cleanup caddy with rags and products that are safe to use on your items.
  • Find a cute set out reusable outdoor dishes or glasses that fit your theme and won’t break if they are dropped.

Now that you’ve executed your plan and brought your outdoor living space to life, enjoy it. Invite some friends over. Watch a movie on a tablet or phone. Bring that portable speaker out and sing along. Cozy up with loved ones and have dinner under the stars. Bring your laptop out there and work away. Whether you live deep in the city or out in suburbia, nature has a calming effect on all of us. Now you’re all set to experience it in from your very own apartment.

Shelby Novak | Novak Design Co.

Shelby Novak is a small-town girl living in a big city. She loves all things music, food or fashion related, and of course — design. Shelby’s experience includes decorating residential and commercial spaces and she believes that the design of a space should originate from emotion, and that lifestyle and design must go hand in hand.

Learn more about working with Shelby Novak of Novak Design Co. through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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