Thursday, December 23, 2010

Balcony Design Tips

    Balconies are often forgotten or neglected when in fact they can be one of the most important features of your home be it for entertaining or simply relaxing. Consider these important points before embarking on a balcony or terrace design project.

    Check with a qualified professional as to the structural loading capacity of your terrace. Not all buildings can support the same weight loads and many buildings may not be able to withstand the weight of the materials you are thinking of using. Consider lightweight alternatives to traditional materials such as aluminium structures, Hebel brick or foam panel, tensioned steel Balustrading, polycarbonate roofing etc.
    All Year Round Design

    Think about how the space will be used in all 4 seasons. Even if you don't actively go out onto your balcony or terrace in the winter months, it can and should be attractive to look at from indoors and outdoors. Keep the division between the inside and out to a minimum to create the feeling of space from both sides and to bring the outside in.
    Design for YOU!

    Consider what time of day you will be spending most of your time on your balcony or terrace. Do you work during the day? If so, plan your design for night time enjoyment. Plan on lighting being an integral part of the design and possibly heating. Make the area comfortable. Quality outdoor furniture can make a big difference to the amount of time you spend outside, I mean, who's going to spends a few hours enjoying the view if they have to stand up or sit on a rock hard, bum numbing chair.
    Make to Measure

    Plan very carefully because in a small space every inch counts. Make sure the scale of the various built elements and furnishings is appropriate to the size of your overall space. Use "layering" (foreground, middle ground, background) to create the illusion of greater size and depth within your balcony or terrace.
    Plant Selection

    Choose plant species that are appropriate to your micro-climate. This is as important or even more important than when you are planning ground-level planting beds. Your particular exposure (direction you face) and patterns of wind will create a very specific micro-climate. Plan on using plants that are at least one full zone hardier than you would if you were down at ground level. Try stylish, drought hardy succulents or integrate annuals into your planting design knowing that they will be replaced each season.

    Make sure you have thought about water supply. If you have an overhang above your balcony or terrace your plants will not receive any natural rainfall. Consider installing a drip irrigation system on a timer so your plants won't dry out every time you go away for a day or two. Drainage must be your first thought regarding irrigation as an excess of water can cause serious damage to both yours and your neighbours building.
    Inside Out

    When designing your balcony or terrace and when choosing materials and finishes remember to link your indoor rooms with your outdoor room(s) and carry the indoors out. This is particularly critical in a small space where continuity and flow are very important.

    Don't forget to include some storage in the overall design. You'll need a place for gardening tools, potting soil and a host of other odds and ends. Design the space so your gardening will be as pleasurable as possible. Under seat or bench areas can be utilised for valuable storage space. Or a shallow wall cupboard can hold cushions, candles, gardening gloves and clippers.

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Balcony Design Tips

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