If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony in your home, it’s a great place for all manner of activities. From relaxing to dining, the balcony can fill any need. But, a few design mistakes can severely limit the space that you have, or lead to you not wanting to use your balcony as much as you could. With that in mind, we’ve come up with 7 design mistakes to avoid when refreshing your balcony decor!
Picking Bulky Furniture
Simplicity is key when it comes to balcony furniture, not just because it’s easier to maintain, but also because of the space itself. The furniture you pick must be both functional, as well as give you moving space, so go for something slimline: a narrow table, bistro-style chairs, even foldable chaise pads. If the space doesn’t allow it, you can use a hammock that you can put up easily, or simply use blankets and floor cushions.
Not Preparing for Rainy Days
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows on the balcony, so prepare for all kinds of weather. Make sure that you have proper water drainage in place, to avoid it flooding during the rainy season. Using the right furniture is also important, especially if you have an open balcony. Wooden furniture looks great, but it can be badly damaged by rain, snow or frost, so go for something impermeable, and try to avoid upholstery. Don’t forget about cushions and blankets: they can make your balcony extra cozy, but not so much when they’re soaked.
Not Using It as a Functional Area
Does your balcony look like a glorified storage unit, with old appliances, broken furniture and various knick-knacks taking up all the space? Then it’s time to change all that. A balcony can add at least an extra 30 square feet of usable space to your home, and there are many ways to turn your balcony into a functional area. A couple of chairs and a table can easily become an al fresco dining room, or even just a spot to enjoy your morning coffee. A hammock or chaise lounge will turn it into a den of relaxation. You can use the space to start a balcony garden, or, if the mood takes you, maybe even an outdoor office.
Lack of Pet- and Child-Proofing
If you don’t have a garden, the balcony is an excellent spot for all the family to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, kids and pets included. Therefore, make sure that it is safe enough for the little ones. A front and side guardrail that is tall enough is essential, and the gaps between the rails must be narrow enough to prevent squeezing through. If you have cats, remember that they like to perch, so if your handrail is too narrow, you can install a wider perch for them to sit on.
Not Thinking Vertically
Space may be limited on a balcony, but that doesn’t mean that there’s only room for two chairs and a table. You can make the most of what you have by using the walls, and the easiest way to do so is by installing shelves, or even hanging baskets. These can either be used for storage, decoration, as well as house and garden plants. The same applies to decorative plants: vertical pots and tall plants take up less space, and can easily be a decorative centerpiece. Don’t forget about the rails: you can make the most of your space by using them for a suspended table, as well as railing planters.
Lack of Lighting
It’s probably easy to forget about light on the balcony when you’re basking in the sun. Yet proper light is essential, even if you’re just enjoying an evening in. Candles are a good pick for mood lighting, and you can enjoy them on windy evenings as well by placing them in stained-glass panels. Light strings can add a touch of magic to your balcony — bonus points if they’re solar powered — and you can even use string lights and decorative logs to create a fake fire pit.
Forgetting About Privacy
The balcony is an extension of your home, but it can also leave you exposed to prying eyes. Whether you’re sunbathing or just reading a book, it’s best to remember that privacy is essential. This is easily fixed, and can also be done in a creative way, by using curtains, bamboo fencing, or even Japanese screen panels. And if you’re committed to a long term decorative project, growing houseplants on trellises is an excellent way to keep nosy neighbors at bay, as well as turning your balcony into a lush garden.