An outdoor space, even a small one, can be a lifesaver when the weather warms up. A shallow balcony can be a welcome respite or a way to take in a summer breeze. When the weather is nice, a terrace or balcony can extend your square footage, giving you more space for entertaining, dining or relaxing. It can be a difficult space to design as there simply isn’t a lot of room for furniture or décor. If you are looking for built-ins or interested in a major terrace overhaul, it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional designer who can take on a larger scale project. Here are some tips to maximize your small balcony or deck and turn it into a mini outdoor oasis.
Measure your deck or balcony area
It’s always good to measure out the area and record the measurements in your phone. This way, when you’re out shopping or happen to stumble upon something you love, you’ll know if the item will fit. It’s also smart to measure the door opening out to the balcony, as well as your elevator (if you have one), so that you don’t buy something that doesn’t even fit through the door.
Know what you can and can’t have on your deck or balcony
Every multi-family residence will have a set of rules regarding what you can, and cannot, have on the balcony. Some buildings prohibit gas or charcoal grills; some prohibit railing baskets. But even if your small balcony is attached to a single-family home, you’ll want to be aware of safety issues like wind and rain; lightweight furniture could easily blow off of a windy deck and rain can ruin objects that aren’t meant to get wet.
List your priorities for the outdoor space
Do you need seating? Do you want to grow herbs or vegetables? Do you want to block a view or noise? Do you need to store sports equipment like bicycles? Make a list of your priorities, as this will help you focus your design efforts. You’ll want to shop smart and look for pieces that will multitask or fit into the small balcony area. Many people want their balconies and decks to be multi-purposeful, so you may want to look for furniture that multitasks. Or you might want to hire a carpenter or contractor to design built-in benches or furniture. Blocking noise or having more privacy may require some thoughtful planning. Some people choose to install a trellis and train a climbing plant to grow on it – plants are great at reducing noise and giving privacy. Bamboo is another fast-growing favorite. It’s also easy to find outdoor draperies and curtains, which can act as a sun blocker as well as frame your view better. Small water features can help add a nice white noise if that is what your balcony needs. Just keep in mind that many water features require electricity.
Great resources for decks and balconies
Furniture with outdoor cushions can create a relaxing lounge or seating area. Keep in mind that during the off-season, you’ll need an indoor area (or storage box) to ensure that the cushions survive the winter. A multi-tasking hutch is a fantastic piece that can serve as a beverage station, garden area, or hobby table. And this unique bike storage idea ensures a bike is stored neatly without interfering the rest of the balcony.
Top image credit: Gelotte Hommas