THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Ten inspirational ideas for porches, verandahs, decks and balconies.
Got a balcony, verandah or patio? You’ll find plenty of inspiration with these ideas.
1 WHAT’S IT FOR?
With the design of any space it’s essential to determine its core function first so that decisions on materials, plants and furnishings can be made with this in mind. Is your balcony or porch somewhere to relax with friends and enjoy the garden, an entry point to your home, a place to contemplate a lovely view of the city or just to escape the confines of a small apartment?
When space is tight inside it may be hard to isolate just one key function for your precious outdoor area. If you also need to use the balcony to store utilities or as a children’s play zone, clever planning can accommodate those activities. Think about seating that can double as storage and using retractable clotheslines, for instance.
3 STYLE CUES
Balconies, verandahs, decks and other transitional areas can also take design cues from the garden and the wider environment, ideally a mix of both. If you have a coastal view for instance, furniture and materials could have a nautical theme. Or if the balcony overlooks a tropical garden use similar plants and a bamboo screen.
4 GIMME SHELTER
To increase the room-like feel of an outdoor space you need to create the same sense of intimacy you would find in the interior of a home by surrounding it on at least two sides with some form of wall structure. This could be as simple as lightweight trellis screens or bamboo panels. However, remember that on high roof gardens or exposed balconies, wind needs to be taken into consideration when choosing materials.
In urban areas balconies and roof terraces often lack privacy from above. Creating some form of overhead shelter will increase that room-like feel. Pergolas, shade sails or even a homemade frame covered in saris or brushwood will often do the trick.
6 KEEP CONNECTED
Use material selection to reinforce visual connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, particularly if verandahs and balconies are in close proximity to the interior. If you’ve used a lot of glass and steel inside, use those materials for balustrading. If timber is used more then continue it outside for seating or a pergola. But factor in that materials will be exposed to sun, wind and rain.
7 SET THE SCENE
Transitional spaces are basically outdoor rooms so need a similar design approach to those inside, but in a more laid-back style. Balconies and verandahs in particular are closely connected and often viewed from the interior of a house, so consider a style that will flow through easily from inside to out.
8 ON THE FLOOR
The ground surface is a key area to accentuate indoor/outdoor flow. If the balcony leads off the kitchen, for example, then tiling is a good choice for the floor surface, but if it connects to a timber-floored living area then decking might be a better option.
Using outdoor rugs is also effective.
9 PLANTING PLAN
Potted plants are an excellent way to add a garden-like feel to outdoor living areas, particularly those that are disconnected physically, like apartment balconies. If space is limited try and keep pots off the ground so you have more room for furniture. Instead hang them on railings and from the ceiling, or use plants that will grow vertically, such as climbers. Upright plants such as reeds take up less room and can provide screening. Remember to check waterproofing and drainage issues for balcony and roof gardens.
10 SIT BACK
When choosing furniture for porches and balconies, relaxation is key. Think swing chairs, day beds, a rocking chair, comfy wicker sofa or perhaps a hammock, if space allows. Use outdoor cushions to make wooden or metal benches and sofas as comfy as possible. Even wooden crates can become seats if covered with rugs and cushions. Have cosy throws on hand for cooler weather and citronella candles for balmy summer evenings.
The right fit
Upsize your furniture to suit the space, like the generous chairs in this expansive deck.