T he balcony in a residence is generally used to house a few pots, bring in greenery, dry the laundry, place a chair if the space permits to sit back and gaze into the exteriors.
But how about turning even the most slender of balconies into a family relaxation zone by craftily handling the décor of the area? Perhaps sounds impossible but can certainly be made possible. Not only can seating be accommodated, but greenery too along with artefacts to make the space cheerful to unwind.
To begin with, greenery need not be in pots placed on the floor of the balcony. The walls of the balcony can be turned into green spaces, with attractive racks to hold clay pots or alternatively, a green wall can be infused, the stacking of the greens taking less room while offering a larger visual presence of greenery. Creepers can likewise be opted for on the railings, taking minimal space, yet enhancing the green quotient. Hanging the pots instead of placing them on the floor is another excellent way of saving floor space.
Wall art is an excellent form of infusing colour into a balcony. A combination of greens and art not only makes the place attractive, but can also serve as an excellent de-stressing element in a relaxation zone.
With the décor having been housed totally on the vertical planes of the balcony, the floor is left free to accommodate a fair amount of seating for the family to gather. A small balcony may not permit more than two seats with a tiny side table to place tea and snacks. However, even in a space that appears too small to accommodate two seats, the same can be managed if customised seating is opted for where a set of attractive chairs are sized down.
In case of a slightly more comfortable-sized balcony the décor can be more elaborate, with a small breakfast table and seating or reclining chairs to lounge with a book. In a large balcony, the options are plenty. The space would afford placement of pots on the floor, even a strip of lawn on the edges combined with a small waterbody and cement seats.
A fairly wide and long balcony could have a section segregated for the waterbody, with an attractive seating placed over a slightly raised platform. The greenery can manifest as large potted plants, as ground cover around the waterbody, as creepers on the railings of the balcony. If the section of the balcony housing the seating is open to sky akin to a mini-terrace, a small gazebo can feature in the seating space to provide shelter from the weather.
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Says Architect Leena Kumar of Kumar Consultants, “It is common to find balconies facing the road or sections that may lack visual appeal, preventing the space from being used as a relaxation zone. Pollution is another factor that prompts less use of balconies. So, before converting a balcony into a family outdoor space or a relaxation zone, these factors need to be addressed. Opting for bamboo screens and lattices that permit growth of creepers are good options to provide privacy as well as bring the freshness of greenery into the space.”
The bamboo screens or lattices can be fairly high to cover the balcony area and with the greenery snaking its way up this earthy screen, the private space would appear enclosed by a green wall.
As essential as greenery is the lighting element introduced as this determines the language of the space at night. “The lighting has to be subtle as the space is to be used for relaxation”, points out Kumar, suggesting the use of mood lighting. Even a single floor light that acts as a highlight element can set this mood and convert this space into an excellent area to unwind and relax, she opines.