Balconies And Sitting Areas

It’s good for us to escape outside at times of relaxation. Yet in today’s busy world, we tend to switch off and stay indoors, preferring a cosy sofa to a blast of crisp air in the park. Try to counteract that instinct. By consciously preparing a quiet spot for peace and contemplation outdoors, however tiny, you are more likely to drag the yoga mat outside on a sunny morning or enjoy an al fresco early autumn supper. For city-dwellers, there is always a fight to find decent exterior space. But even for those who live in the countryside, with a big garden at their disposal, there is much to be said for creating a cosy, enclosed nook outdoors.

A balcony that leads, hotel-style, directly from a bedroom or sitting room is the easiest, and most user-friendly, link between outside and in. If your property already has a balcony, then celebrate. It is also comparatively straightforward to add a first-floor structure to a new extension, though much trickier to get planning permission to add one to a listed building, or one in a conservation area, as it alters the exterior character. The tiniest balcony, just big enough to hold a circular table and two chairs, can make breakfast in the bedroom special, or provide a bird’s-eye view of the world while you just sit and think or read a book. Increase the ambience by training a creeper – and perhaps a string of exterior fairy lights – around the safety balustrade or adding a pull-down canvas awning to provide protection from the sun.

In a city apartment with no back garden but that has available flat roof space adjacent to a room, or on top of the property, consider a roof terrace. Because it is at high level, it will get plenty of sun and sky views, and because it will be less overlooked than a conventional garden, it will feel more private. Vital first steps to take include checking that you don’t need planning permission and that the roof is sufficiently robust to withstand the weight of people, flooring and plants. Consult a structural engineer, who will advise on necessary loadbearing support and the correct height of a parapet. Many new buildings are constructed with rood-terrace use in mind and already have steel beams in place beneath the flat roof.

By its very nature, a roof terrace feels appropriately intimate, as it will have a compact floor area and requires high enclosing walls. Play up that mood by choosing attractive parapet materials. For an industrial look, pick metal mesh, bars or tensioned stainless-steel cables. For a prettier, more conventional finish, painted tongue-and-groove, willow fence panels or creeper-covered bamboo trellis, teamed with small trees and plants in giant tubs, are attractive. Think about clever lighting to maintain the mood at night: strings of Chinese lanterns, plant spotlights or candles in storm lanterns are all atmospheric choices. Many garden design companies specialize in small, bespoke urban gardens and roof terraces. Although they are not cheap, the extra space you reclaim outdoors will be well worth the cost, so think about booking a consultation.

Whether you have a balcony, roof terrace, deck or – in certain properties – a front porch, select dedicated furniture for the space. There’s no point creating a place for enjoying peace and quiet if you must drag out a chair from inside to do so. Decide if this is a spot for lying down, for eating a peaceful meal or a bit of both. These days, garden furniture comes in almost as many style choices as interior pieces, either in weather-resistant hardwoods like teak, or in high-tech synthetic materials that withstand rain, cold and sun damage. Do your research: the extra investment in quality pieces may be well worth it if cheap chairs fall apart after a single summer’s outdoor use.

Design Tips For Your Balcony

Interested in making your balcony more attractive? With the right design elements, even the most awkward balcony can become a comfortable outdoor living space. With a few simple steps, you can make your balcony area a great hangout that feels like another room in your house.

Seating

One of the best ways to make your balcony feel comfortable and inviting is simply by making sure people that are out there have a place to sit down. Think about how much space you have before you choose a seating set. One of the bistro sets you frequently find in department stores may be great for a smaller space, while a long and narrow balcony may do well with a few comfortable benches.

Flooring

If you want to define your outdoor space one of the best ways to do it is with a little bit of strategically placed flooring. Choosing an outdoor safe rug or simply painting a rug like design in an area that you want to define as the seating space can be a great way to center the area. Sometimes you don’t need to do much to define a little bit of floor space. Laying an outdoor carpet or simply making sure the floor of the balcony is comfortable to walk on and cleanly painted can do wonders for making it feel more inviting.

Plants

Plants can serve many functions outside that will help a balcony space tremendously. Use a few large plants to help create a little bit of privacy if you have other balconies nearby. If you are short on floor space, consider trying some hanging plants instead of ground varieties. Plants can help a balcony seem cooler in the summer and do for your balcony what artwork can do for your house. Consider planting herbs in a section of the area to add a great element of life to your area.

Lighting

The right lighting can make your balcony available well into the night. You can find a great selection of outdoor lighting in the garden section of many stores. Consider options that charge with solar energy during the day to avoid having to worry about plugging something in regularly in an outdoor area. Make sure there is enough light near the seating to make it comfortable for hanging out at night.

Sound

A little bit of sound can go a long way toward making an outdoor space seem alive and welcoming. Wind chimes are a great option if you have somewhere to hang them, though smaller table centerpiece chimes may work just as well. If you don’t want to go with chimes, consider adding a small self contained natural style of fountain to one of the areas where you’ve set up plants. With the right sound, you can make your balcony area feel like a comfortable private retreat

Art

Try setting up some artwork to accentuate your space if you have something that will work. If there is a good place for it try hanging a piece of artwork on the wall. If you don’t have something weatherproof, you can re-purpose something that is meant to be outside anyway. Consider outdoor sculptures to set off your plant areas, and think about putting something on any table you may have out there.

Juliet Balconies

The name Juliet Balcony comes from the famous scene in Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet stands looking out of her balcony talking about love. However, unlike the more traditional holiday-style balconies, Juliet balconies aren’t intended for patio sets and entertaining guests. Instead they are an extension of an interior room that is designed to add an outdoor feel to an indoor space.

A Juliet balcony is essentially a false balcony attached to the side of a house so that it surrounds French or double doors. Juliet balconies are often still made to fit the traditional model from the Shakespeare play: a short, narrow rectangle surrounded by stone balustrade that is supported by plinths and opens almost immediately into the adjoining room through glass doors. They are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people convert existing windows to allow for increased light and ventilation. Obviously the doors have to open inwards to make the most of a feature like this. By changing windows to double doors or French doors, the balcony fixes to the external masonry to prevent anyone from falling out. Juliet balconies are more than just a safety feature however, with many homeowners installing them as nothing more than an external design feature.

The vast majority of Juliet balconies are made from iron due to its strength and sturdiness, and because it is easy to shape. Attaching a large iron feature to the side of your property can have pitfalls though – the sheer weight of iron Juliet balconies can lead them to pull away from masonery which can lead to costly repairs. This has lead some manufacturers to look to new materials with similar strength qualities to iron but with less weight. Aluminium has been adopted as a realistic alternative however it is much less easy to shape than iron so aluminium Juliette balconies tend to be a lot more functional with less ornate design than many of the iron alternatives.

In more recent years some manufacturers have been pushing the boundaries of Juliet balcony designs a little more, incorporating glass and other materials in modern designs. This new generation of Juliet balconies is obviously more befitting of modern architecture, with older homes and buildings preferring the more traditional iron versions.

Due to the Juliet balcony’s European influence and romantic heritage, these small exterior areas are becoming very popular very among buyers, particularly those living in cities where exterior space is at a premium. They can therefore add significant value to your property if used and displayed correctly. By installing railing planters, balcony boxes, or hanging baskets, a Juliet balcony space can quickly become a high-rise garden. This is not only practical for city dwellers, but by adding plant life right outside a room, a relaxed, natural mood is instantly created, by brining the outside inside. You could possibly even wind vines between the balustrades, partially enclose the space with a shaded trellis for more privacy, or seal the area with glass windows to form an impromptu greenhouse.