Spring into space
Spring, of course, is a favorite time of year for us here at Terrace. It’s when the pleasures of outdoor living really kick off for the year and with the longer days and softer, warmer nights, we get a rush of questions and interest from customers on how to make the most of their outdoor spaces. For a great number of us city dwellers, this usually means a pretty small space. A balcony, perhaps, or a little courtyard. Often our outdoor spaces are almost like another room in the house and can be quite sheltered but, unlike other rooms, they tend to get a little neglected over the winter so it’s time to give them some love and care. It doesn’t matter how small it is. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the intimacy that can be created in a small outdoor area is something special and is just as unique as a massive spread of lawn or sweeping veranda. So don’t ignore your outdoor space! Even if it’s just a tiny pocket of air and light, it can add so much to the quality of your domestic life and – let’s face it – will also improve your property value.
When considering what to do with your outdoor area, here are a few things worth keeping in mind:
- Really think the space through before you start purchasing or placing items. What are the dimensions? What do you want from the space? Is for entertaining? Or is it a private space for you to kick back with the papers and morning coffee? How does the sun hit the space – will you need more or less shade? What plants are appropriate for the conditions? Will they need to be hardy or is there room for some more delicate blossoms?
- Resist cluttering up the space with lots of bits and pieces! It’s easy to do especially when you’ve got a rush of spring time enthusiasm! But before you know it, your little courtyard or balcony is crowded and messy, too hard to maintain, and not inviting. It can be hard to picture what might work so research and look at other designs (did you ever have a better excuse to trawl through pinterest!) and come and ask us! It’s one of our favourite things to talk about.
- A protected space allows you to be a little more flexible with the use of indoor furnishings in an outdoor setting but take care – even slight exposure the elements can wear down fabrics and finishes very quickly if they are not designed for outdoor use. With such gorgeous variety in outdoor fabrics and furniture now available, there’s no reason why you can’t find something to suit your style. The same will go for selecting plants and pots – it’s worth investing in things that last and are appropriate to your environment.
- Consider the practicalities – are you planning on entertaining groups of people and if so, have you given yourself and your guests enough room to get to and from their seats? By very fact of being outdoors, people will want to spread out more, be freer in their movements – try to be generous with the space you allow, even if you don’t have much to spare.
- What kind of lighting would you like? Candles and suspended lanterns are always pretty and we are really loving these ropes of led lights which you can weave through branches or hang from beams for a gorgeously festive atmosphere.
- Bench seating around the walls can be a great way to make a small courtyard inviting without sacrificing too much space. And we have some beautifully designed furniture options that seem to create space rather than take up space. For example, we are big fans of pieces like the pop chair & or the multipurpose Wire tray table which are light and airy and don’t block out greenery or sunlight.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a large area to work with, keep in mind that you don’t have to fill up every inch of space! Enjoy the luxury of light and space and choose furnishings that complement it like lovely wide benches or oversized comfort seating like the Butterfly lounge chairs. Avoid small bits and pieces that make the space feel unbalanced. The same goes for plants – think the big beautiful leaves of a Monstera or Strelitzia Nicolia, the sculptural branches of a frangipani or the super trendy Ficus Lyrata. If you’re arranging smaller pots, group them with large and medium sized pots to create a balanced story.
- Add colour and texture with cushions, outdoor rugs and wall features, with a vivid printed shade umbrella or a set of rustically painted or glazed pots.
- And, finally, plants, plants and more plants! With hanging pots and vertical gardens, there are all kinds of ways to make a green space work for you. There is nothing quite like stepping outside into a verdant, green wonderland. It works wonders on your mental and physical wellbeing. And if you don’t know your Scindapsis from your begonia, never fear – we can help you with that too. In fact, try to stop us!
So step outside right now, smell the jasmine in the air, and start thinking of how you can spend more time outside this spring by nurturing your outdoor space into a sanctuary of green and comfort and calm.
All images are Terrace Outdoor Living projects excluding (from top) image 2 - via Think Outside Gardens, image 3 - via Homesthetics, image 5 - via Think Outside Gardens, image 14 - via Gardenique
Small but perfectly formed: your guide to a beautiful balcony
A big garden with endless lawns or a wrap around veranda packed with picturesque furniture may be the enviable luxuries of a gardener’s daydreams. But, having been an apartment-dweller for most of my life, I’ve become a convert to the charms of small gardens, of creating a tiny urban oasis that offers sanctuary and delight and comfort. And there is something particularly special about a balcony garden. A balcony inhabits a unique space – they can be very much part of the street they are elevated above but at the same time are more like an extension of a room than a designated outdoor space. I like how intimate they can be while still allowing one to be part of the life of the street - leaning over the railing to chat to a neighbour, tossing a set of keys down to a friend, watching revelers make their way into the evening. While an enclosed or screened balcony can be a beautiful hideaway (or sometimes just plain necessary depending on the location and the quality of the neighbours!), my favourite balcony gardens have been the ones that allow me to enjoy my neighbourhood and that contribute to the beauty of the streetscape by adding colour and life to a building.
The practicalities of creating a sustainable balcony garden can present some challenges and will depend primarily on the size, aspect and conditions of the balcony. After a browse through Pinterest it is tempting just to go crazy and start loading up your space with all manner of blossoms and vines and hanging plants and tables and lounges.
But steady on! There are a few important things to consider before you start going all Home Beautiful. They are much the same questions as you would apply to any garden with a few that are very that are specific to the balcony space:
- How much light does it get and at what points during the day? Will any plants be mostly in the shade?
- Is it windy? If you’re planning on hanging pots then this is a good one to consider!
- Is it sturdy? Get its load baring capacity checked before you start piling on giant concrete pots. (Check out our new range of lightweight pots!)
- What’s the drainage like? Do you want year-round greenery and season blossoms or are you happy for it to go bare over winter?
- And, very importantly, what do you want to use it for? Is it a place to grow a few herbs or is it somewhere for you to spend time relaxing and entertaining?
With these considerations in mind, here are our tips for creating a beautiful balcony garden:
- Make it an extension of the room – it can really open up the home and create a lovely flow of space. I love to use a gorgeous outdoor mat or rug that complements the interior space. Go here for one of our current store favourites.
- A stylishly simple row of planters or pots with uniform planting can look particularly striking on a large balcony but for a smaller space I prefer to introduce a range of heights and sizes to the plants to give a more textured, garden-y feel.
- Utilise space creatively – this might mean creating a vertical garden on one wall or using hanging plants if floor space is very limited.
- If you plan on taking your morning coffee with the papers or an evening glass of wine with friends on your balcony then durable, stylish and comfortable seating is a must! Ditch the milk crates and go for pieces that will not just withstand the elements but help to create a really beautiful and inviting sanctuary.
Images 1 to 3 Terrace Outdoor Living, image 4 via Design Rulz, image 5 via House of Home, image via 6 Architecture Designs, image 7 via Woo Home image 8 via Harrisons Landscaping & the rest Terrace Outdoor Living.