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Pretty on the outside
May 25, 2013 COMMENT comment
     
Pretty on the outside
By Prerna Gauba
 
Enjoy a hot cuppa, listening to the chirping birds and admiring green plants and lovely flowers. All this in your balcony while living in an apartment. Don't let limited balconies limit your imagination to create a beautiful outdoor space. Throw away the clutter and that convert the much ignored balcony into a mini garden.
 
Balconies and verandahs are often the most ignored sections of a house, becoming an ideal place for drying clothes or keeping knick-knacks in the corner. However, a little imagination can turn it into a space you would love to spend time in. Just because it is small does not mean you cannot beautify it.
Planting
"Make sure the plants and flowers you choose are compatible with the amount of sun the space receives," advices Rajat Singhi, creative director, Address Home. "A lot of people invest in plants without checking if they can or cannot thrive in city conditions," he adds. Plants like pansy, phlox, petunia, carnations, sunflowers, and lilies in small containers work well during winters whereas marigold is a sun-loving plant that needs very little care. Shaded parts of the balcony can have plants flowers like salvia or greens like money plant, dracaena, et cetera. Peppermint plants beautify the place and keep away mosquitoes as does catnip. "Bougainvillea in various colours and varieties is very easy to grow over the walls. High walls of the balcony can be softened by growing creepers like ivy on them will also make the balcony look pretty and will help in maintaining privacy," explains Bubble, owner, MD, One & Only, Legendary Furniture. An herb garden with assorted herbs like mint, parsley, coriander and basil can be very attractive and resourceful. To make a small balcony look big, Ritin Gulati, architect, interior designer and director of F.ID.A Design House advises using fewer plant pots and more open spaces to give a bigger look. Go for colourful and differently shaped pots to grow your plants in.
 
Lighting
"If you have an electrical outlet, add a beautiful lamp and use low-wattage bulbs for a warm and comfortable glow. A string of white outdoor Christmas tree mini-lights strung up on the balcony can also be a good option," suggests Jasleen Kochhar, founder of Bougainvilla Design. In case there is no electrical connection, go for solar lanterns. To maintain privacy and not attract attention, dim lighting is a must while you enjoy your time with family and friends.
 
Furniture
If you have a small space to work with, consider multipurpose seating like a storage bench that can be used to put your belongings and provide a great place to relax as well. Make sure whatever chairs or table you put on your balcony are weather-resistant or waterproof. "An Englishstyle house can support wooden and wrought-iron designer chairs and table whereas an Indian traditional home should have furniture made of cane and bamboo," recommends Gulati. Also, you can invest in pieces that are foldable or stackable.
 
Accessorising
"Hanging flower baskets are very eye-catching while being space savers at the same time. Flower boxes can also be used to grow flowers," says Bubble. There are plenty of options available to accessorise your balcony and terraces. Consider hanging bird cages (even if you don't have a bird), musical wind chimes, lanterns and small garden statues to make it look beautiful. Atul Kapur, executive director, Flowers Forever, prefers to have window boxes as they make your balcony stand out. Adding a few cushions in a corner with a reclining chair if there is space or a pouffe or just a bean bag can help create a serene space where you can read a book or listen to music.
 
Safety
Safety of your children or dogs is imperative while you are dressing up your balcony. "Railings should be three feet high and have no more than four inches of space. Window and door safety devices should be installed and maintained," counsels Singhi. Colourful fencing can make the space look interesting.

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