Making Over the Boring Apartment Balcony
Apartment dwellers frequently forget the fact that they have perfectly good balconies to use, just waiting to be fixed up. No matter how big or small your balcony is, you can turn it into an outdoor living space with a few key items. Sure, warm climates will get more use out of their balconies, but northerners can enjoy the few months they have to use theirs in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas to stimulate ideas, whatever climate you’re in. Plants During warm months, balconies can be decorated with plants. Just put a few pots of plants along the balcony bars and make sure to keep them watered. If you have little privacy and have a standard balcony with vertical bars, grow vines such as morning glories. When living in a high traffic area, I planted morning glories along my balcony bars and strung up string for them to cling to. By the end of the summer they were a lovely mass of heart shaped leaves and lovely blue flowers. The trick to keeping them looking good is to pinch of dead blooms. In the fall, they will die off, being annuals, if you live in a cold climate like I did, in Ohio. If you want a little more privacy than just covering the balcony bars, try an inexpensive tall trellis on either side of your balcony. Other plants that go well on balconies are hibiscus, especially those trained as trees. For years I grew one on my balcony up in Ohio, bringing it in every fall right before frost. It grew to be six feet tall and bloomed profusely. Hibiscus flowers are showy, and come in a variety of colors. Feed the hibiscus a week solution of plant food (I used one teaspoon of flower promoting plant food to one gallon of water). Plants add beauty and life to an otherwise dull and sterile looking space. And, when you bring them in for the winter, the plants will look bigger every year, for having been outside in the sunshine. Furniture Make sure whatever chairs or table you put on your balcony are weather resistant or waterproof. There is nothing worse than rusting items sitting out, like an eyesore, forgotten about. Choose furniture that is first of all comfortable to you, and isn’t too flimsy. Lightweight folding chairs can blow off the balcony during gusty winds, so it’s a good idea to get more substantial models. A small, well-made bistro set is useful if you like to eat outside. I had a wrought iron set, with waterproof, tasteful cushions on the seats for my balcony. The set lasted for years, and was great for having lunch or entertaining guests. A little side table or two, if you can fit them into your space, are useful, too. The more comfortable you make the space, the more you’ll be inclined to use it. Make it a little oasis. Sit down and plan what kind of use you want for your space, for resting, sitting or all purpose living? Then choose furniture based on your needs. Cooking Many states forbid grilling food on balconies. Before you go out and buy yourself a fancy new aluminum grill, check with the code enforcement people at your local town hall, to make sure grills are permitted on balconies where you are. If you ignore this, you can be cited by the city so it pays to be proactive about it. I use a rotisserie grill in my kitchen, and bring the cooked food to the balcony. It tastes the same and keeps me legal all the way. Winter Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean the balcony is useless. One complex I used to live in held a contest for the best decorated balcony, over the holiday season. My friend and I strung up lights, and decorated the space in a creative way, after loading up on Christmas supplies over at Home Depot. It was like a little wonderland out there, without being tacky. We used small gold and white lights, hanging a beautiful wreath, with gold and cherry red accents; then put a waterproof spotlight under the wreath to accent it, and it looked really nice. To finish it off, I wired pine branches to the top of the balcony bars, and accented them every so often with a golden colored bow and tiny red berries. We ended up winning third place in that contest and got a check for two hundred dollars. A tastefully decorated balcony for the holidays adds some interest to it. Plus, wild birds may come and take shelter in the wreath, like some did with ours. We then put out a small bird feeder on a little table, so they could eat. Even if we didn’t use the space much over the winter, the birds did. Our job was to keep the feeder filled, that’s all. And our indoor cats enjoyed the “Cat TV” right outside their window. Whatever you do with your balcony space, use a little creativity and remember that your neighbors need to see it too, so keep it tasteful for public viewing. When spring comes around again, you can go back out there and enjoy it more. Make it a tradition; after all, you pay every month for that space. Go ahead, have fun and make good use of your balcony. Life is too short to stay inside that stuffy apartment all the time. Open those balcony sliding glass doors and if you can’t enjoy a great view, then at least enjoy your little space in whatever way you see fit.
Tags: Apartment , Living , Singles , Decorating
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