Mood Board: Small balcony meets nature

This outdoor room was designed for a client dealing with a common problem: the too-small balcony. The balcony in question extends off of an apartment in a high-rise apartment complex, overlooking an adjoining park. Like many apartment balconies, it seemed like an architect’s afterthought. The park offers some nice views, including a lovely fountain, but the balcony’s size had kept the client from using the space as anything beyond a view from her dining room. However, after several years of ignoring the problem, the client wanted a real space where she could enjoy her green view after work with a good magazine and a glass of wine…

The grey wall color you see as the background of this mood board is the color of the brick wall and the concrete floor of the client’s balcony. I’ve included it in the mood board because, although we did not paint the brick wall or the floor, it is important to see as a color reference.

The first step was to separate the floor from the three walls by breaking up the solid grey color with an indoor/outdoor rug. The natural texture and the warm colors woven into this narrow rug really help define the space as another living room of the apartment.

As the client had already discovered, standard patio furniture is just too deep for this narrow space. By letting go of trying to squeeze a matching set of furniture onto the balcony, we were able to search for other ideas that offered more individual character. This long garden bench has a classic furniture profile, but looks more modern in its lemon yellow color. The bench cushion and pillows were chosen to add more pops of color and tie into colors already in the space’s fourth wall: the park view.

The small table in a dark wicker finish offers a practical place to set down a drink or book. We also changed out the standard porch light for an antique-looking bronze fixture, which now gives the client a softer reading light. Both the table and the light fixture are in an older style, which helps give the balcony a slightly worn-in, cosy feeling.

Next, we added some green to the space, which helps link the space visually to the view beyond in the park. We added several balcony rail planters that the client plans to use as a mini herb garden. In the same black iron finish, we also added 2 multi-tier plant stands. Floor space is at a premium on this balcony, so the plant stands can help add color to the corners without sacrificing the traffic pattern.

For the two grey side walls of the balcony, we added two small black iron trellises. The client had always liked climbing vines, but had never considered them for her own space. We gave her two places to grow some color on those grey walls. With the balcony’s great sun exposure, she plans to train some purple clematis vines.

Finally, a little art and a little artful convenience adds some decor to this balcony. The aged outdoor thermometer allows the client to check the temperature every morning. The small bronze quail statue nestles onto the floor into a corner with one of the plant stands for a little touch of whimsy.

Thinking beyond common furniture design allowed this balcony to find its own character. By embracing the landscaped view in the design, this narrow outdoor space feels larger and more welcoming to everyday use.

Unique, affordable, comfortable living.

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Posted on May 12, 2011, in Mood Boards. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I have a wide basket weave wooden rail at one end of my patio. I love the skinny black rod iron planter and I would love to fine one. I do have black rod iron furniture. Will it be too much bl rd iron?

    • Hi, Diane! Thanks for your question! It is a tricky one!
      Do you have rod iron furniture or cast iron furniture? I ask because people often confuse the two. Most iron furniture tends to be cast iron and have a very curvy, Victorian profile with non-square cut outs. I would not mix rod iron and cast iron, because they are really two very different styles. I would keep the cast iron furniture to shine alone as a star with it’s very own finish and color. Look for a planter with a clean profile and solid color, like white.

      In this mood board, I kept all of the planters in the same finish to unify the space. This way, the space actually looks larger, because the balcony is not broken up with several different patterns. Basically, it’s the same concept of painting all of your interior trim the same color in your living room. Hope this helps!

  2. What a great design. I love that you even chose what flowers work well with everything. It’s beautiful.

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