Turn Your Condo Balcony Into a Beautiful Outdoor Space

Written by Connie Adair Posted On Tuesday, 08 June 2021 00:00
This city condominium balcony, designed by Red Barrinuevo, uses every inch of available space but still feels open and airy. This city condominium balcony, designed by Red Barrinuevo, uses every inch of available space but still feels open and airy.

How do you take your condo balcony from bike storage and catchall to a beautiful outdoor space you can really enjoy?

Whether your balcony is large or small, a little planning at the start will ensure the result of your work is just what you want it to be, whether you’re looking for a place to entertain or a private oasis for relaxing. 

Start by reviewing your condo regulations to see what is and isn’t allowed. For example, your plans might revolve around a barbecue, but some buildings don’t allow them. 

Next, think about how you want to use the balcony, then plan your space. Do you want a lounge area, a place to read or sunbathe, an entertaining space or a spot to grill and dine?

If the balcony is large enough, you can have it all. Toronto-based Red Barrinuevo, an award-winning property stylist and contemporary interior decorator with Redesign4more recently worked his makeover magic on a 1,200-square-foot condo balcony. The space, designed to appeal to empty nesters, has multiple zones – a sitting area, a large barbecue and dining space and a more intimate covered seating area.

If the balcony is small, you may want to omit the dining table and go with just the sitting area. Or if you especially enjoy al fresco dining, you may want to opt for a table and chairs instead of the seating area. The key is to personalize your space and make it functional for your needs.

When choosing furniture, keep scale and sightlines in mind. Sometimes hand-me-downs from parents or items that may have come from a big backyard are too big and too much in a smaller space. Barrinuevo says low-profile furniture is a good choice because anything that’s too tall will block the view from the inside.

He chose low-profile furniture up on legs to create a light, airy feeling rather than something that hugs the ground and takes up more visual space.

Before buying furniture, get measurements and tape off the balcony to see how items fit and to check for traffic flow. Is there enough space to comfortably go around?

Allow 24 to 36 inches between the couch and coffee table to allow for adequate leg room. (Remember that taller people need more leg room.)

For dining chairs, make sure you have enough space to pull the chairs out without hitting anything behind them. Leave two to three feet in front of the barbecue.

Taping means there will be no surprises and saves the hassles of having to return furniture, Barrinuevo says. Also, measure your balcony door to ensure furniture will fit through.

Remember not to jam pack the space. Pull furniture away from walls to create a more open feeling. “Don’t make it look like there’s a furniture sale with everything lined up against the wall.”

Area rugs and furniture placement can be used to establish zones. 

Barrinuevo ensured every part of the balcony was used, by placing a sitting area on one side, a long dining table and barbecue in the middle and a cosy seating area in a covered alcove off the bedroom.

For this project, new flooring and metal grill fencing were the big-ticket items. Changing up the flooring and fencing can make a big impact but rules may limit what can be done, so again, check the rules.

If permanent flooring changes are not allowed, try wood decking squares, available in different colours, that sit on top of an existing surface and can be removed.

Barrinuevo matches balcony and interior flooring colour so the outdoor space looks like an extension of the inside.

Condo rules didn’t allow anything to be attached to the brick, so for this project Barrinuevo chose sleek planters with a small footprint. He says summer blooms and greens freshen up a space.

He carried the white/beige/brown colour scheme from inside the condo to the balcony.

“It’s nice to have continuity from the inside to out,” he says.  This balcony features a New York apartment balcony entertaining space vibe. But for those who prefer colour, it’s easy to add your favourite hues.

“For me, I like using colours. Colours and patterns (visually) open up a space,” he says. “Inject them anywhere with accessories, area rugs, pillows and other accessories.”

However he cautions that there’s a balance between colourful and going overboard.

Another consideration is storage – it’s nice to have a place to store cushions in winter. Some furniture, such as coffee tables and ottomans, may have storage inside.

Other great additions are lanterns and battery operated candles, which Barrinuevo says add a special touch, especially at night.

Other tips when creating your private outdoor oasis in the city include strategizing which items to splurge on and keeping a cohesive theme with repetitive materials and textures.

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