As mentioned before, summer is in full swing and that means we’d love to sit outside and enjoy a couple of drinks and relax and chat away. Unless you are blessed with a penthouse terrace of 50 square meters or more or a real Garden, reality will be that you’ll be the proud owner of an outdoor space that quite often is hardly big enough to turn around on, let alone sit one or two human beings on.
I’m the owner of a 2.5 square meter balcony space, with a need for an outdoor space for the last 2 years. Seeing the above mentioned square meterage includes the space for the balcony door to open, you can imagine what my workable space outdoors is.
After sufficient research and logical changing my mind a hundred times, listing what I wanted as features outside, running off to the garden centre for pots, soil and plants and herbs, and some easy DIY, the final result makes me really happy!
I also happen to have internet connection here, so managed to blog this to you from here!
Here are my tips to making an outdoor space:
- Know what you want from your outdoor space
Would you like an area to sit outside or would you prefer to grow plants or herbs outdoors? Do you like flowers or rather evergreen plants? Would you like a small water feature? Is your ideal balcony a reading nook or would you like to have a bbq area instead? Anything you’d like to hide away so it’s not seen all the time? Would you need a foldable table?Planning what you like to your outside space to look like, will help a lot determining the options and the materials used, aside from the cost and how to build it. Research online for ideas of what you like your outdoor space to look like, pick colours, items that have to be/ would be nice to have in your little haven. A quick Google search helped me a lot, also in designing and building a water feature.
- Make your balcony an extension of your indoors.
Your outdoor space, if well set up, can connect your indoor space to the outside, making your living space seem larger and lighter. Unless you feel cluttered chic has/needs a place in your home, try to limit the outdoor colours to 2 max. 3. I went for main colours white and blue/turquoise, with a touch of brown, as these are the same colours I used in my home. The more colour you use, the less calm the area may feel, which is not always what we want. By using the same colour pattern, you connect the outdoor space to the rest of your living areas.
- Determine your budget
Determining the budget you are willing to spend, will impact the options you will have to transform that empty corner outside. Personally I went for the low cost option, and ended up up cycling things I already had or that were gifted to me for free. Anything I couldn’t up cycle or did not already have, was purchased at the lowest cost possible via local or online shopping. Handy sites are Ebay, Amazon and AliExpress. I doubt I spent more than 30€ on everything, including plants, plant soil, blue plant box and hanger, water pump, solar charged power bank, the rocks and candles. The carpets to sit on, buddha statue, paint for pallet, mirror for side table, wind chime, cushions, white stool and candle holder I already had lying around the house. The side table under the mirror plus the pallet were donated, as well was the stand under the mint plan on the left (see photo under). The hurricane glass was a gift.
- Work upwards
When you don’t have a lot of space to put things down on the floor, try to work upwards to the sky. You can do this by hanging pots on the balcony railing, or using a recycled wooden pallet, to hang small iron pots with hooks. If your railing doesn’t extend all the way to the floor, but you have a little wall like I have (see photo), use that too to put things on. Use hanging baskets or vertical gardens. There are a lot of options and for each budget. This will make it feel like you have more space and as if your outdoor space is larger than it actually is.
- Use the right scale
If you have any furniture that you’d like to add onto the balcony, make sure it is on the same scale of your outdoor dwelling – an adult size bean bag may take a lot of space away from you, compared to a 30 x 40cm foot stool or a couple of pillows.
- Be bug sassy
Seeing I kind of unwillingly have always been a mosquito magnet, I took the liberty to google for plants that are natural bug repellents. That way, I have no need to cover myself up from head to toe in fear of being drained dry or use any of those smelly mosquito sprays that nobody really likes. Some of the plants and herbs I found online are Basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, Geranium (Pelargonium), Marigolds, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Catnip and many more. Usually these plants are fairly cheaply picked up from your local garden centre, or if you’re brave enough, you can buy the seeds and grow them yourself. (myself, I have 2 pots of parsley and cucumbers growing from seeds)
- Be Creative
Don’t let the small size of your outdoor space limit your imagination. For example, in my roughly 2 square meters, I have space to comfortably sit down and relax. I have mint, parsley, cucumber, 2 succulent flowering plants, Aloe Vera, lavender and basil growing. I also managed to squeeze in a small side table with mirror table top and the above mentioned pallet. Cherry on the cake is the table top size water feature that’s currently being assembled.
Some things are easily made/fixed/recycled yourself, and a lot cheaper than buying them from the stores.
Let me know how creative you got