Balconies set the base for a range of décor ideas, finds out Ruth Dsouza
There is a charm surrounding a balcony that is well designed. It is a versatile space that may be converted into a green spot, a comfortable place to settle down with a book or perhaps a secure play area for children. These are just some of the possibilities with balconies of average sizes.
There are homes today that provide you with larger balconies – a bigger space with which to plan an elaborate concept and implement it. Gone are the days of the traditional balcony. Today the possibilities are immense.
Shubhada Ravindra, a city-based independent architect, says, “Completing enclosing a balcony is not permissible by law as it is then considered a habitable space. That being said, there is a lot that you can do with a large balcony. If partially enclosed spaces are being thought of, then you must check on the structural soundness of your balcony to begin with.”
How a balcony is designed depends on where it is located, explains Shubhada. As a spill over from the living or dining room, it may be converted into a patio, with a seating area, which is accessible to all your guests. If the balcony is attached to your bedroom, then you have option of converting it into a private space accessible only to you – an intimate seating area, a private garden or the like. Awnings, retractable or otherwise, then become an important means of doing up your space.Options galore
Gita Ramanan, COO and Principal Architect, Design Café, offers a few suggestions on what you can do with all that space on your balcony:
Party space: A large balcony/ terrace gives you the chance to create a wonderful party space for entertaining guests and to have intimate parties. This can be achieved by decorating and furnishing it in a manner that allows for groupings of different number and sizes of seats.
Combine an interesting mix of formal and informal seaters that allow for an intimate and fun area. Combine different plants, ornamental and flowering, to bring in the impact of an outdoor space. Also include a 4-6 seater outdoor table for alfresco dining. Various roof options such as awnings, umbrellas, pergolas and semi-covered rafters and sheet roofs will add to the versatility of the balcony. The right use of outdoor lighting is key.
Exercise space: A great use of a large balcony is to convert it as an exercise space that allows you to keep a couple of gym equipment, exercise balls and yoga mats. It is extremely conducive to exercise in the open air in the early mornings or late evenings, and what better use of your large balcony space than to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Important here is the right flooring material and movable screens that can protect any equipment from inclement weather. Build some storage to keep your yoga mats and other exercise equipment handy. Also some loose shelves to allow you to keep towels and water bottles.
Finally, do not forget to include power points that will allow you to play some background music.
Swimming pool: If you have an option of enclosing part of your balcony, it is a great space to include a whirlpool jet/ hot-tub. There are many models available these days that are conducive to be placed outside.
Another great innovation today is the compact swimming pool. Models are available that are as less as 10 ft. in length and due to the mechanical and electrical systems, continuous laps can be done within the small pool.
This is a great way to get good exercise in a small area. Just ensure there is adequate structural support to take the weight of your unit and double-check the plumbing and water-proofing.
Add some temporary screens and mood lighting to complete the space that will allow you to relax in unmatched luxury within the comfort of your own home.
A personal shed: A balcony can also be what a shed is to a bungalow owner. A hobby area that can house your power tools, craft supplies, glass-work, wood work etc. We all need essential time in the outdoors, else studies prove that we become dull and listless. Ensuring you are involved in your favourite hobby and getting a chance to bask in the wonderful weather is a win-win situation.
Go green: Turn your home into a green home. Install solar panels and converters and ensure you capture and store enough electricity for your home needs.Elements of décor
Shubhada suggests using wood or metal to create pergolas or a framework from which you can have creepers drape down. You may even place an acrylic sheet over such framework and cover it with Mangalore tiles. Bamboo rods may be used to frame your balcony space, affording you some privacy.
Retractable awnings too make a brilliant all-weather option, whether for a large group or a more intimate setting. In fact, if you do have a good view to look over, retractable glass awnings ensure that you do not lose out on this.
Your balcony space may also be used to create a home office or a meeting area. It may be converted to just about anything that you would like to do outdoors. Ensuring that the furnishing in your residence is all-weather and the décor maintenance-free to a large extent is ideal.