Breaking down decor options into functional and aesthetic serves as a useful starting point to style open spaces in a home, says Sandeep Sridhar.
We’ve often longed for homes as impeccably styled as the ones seen in glamorous movies or television soaps. Just as often, we find these styles quite impossible to replicate — be it the space, budget or even product availability. Especially for areas such as balconies or patios, the options we’ve seen are few, and usually seem feasible only if one owns a fancy villa or a large mansion. High on style, this aspect is usually low on functionality. To create our dream balconies, we must aim for maximising functionality, while keeping intact, the aesthetic values.
Setting up the basics
Easily overlooked, flooring can go a long way towards crafting the perfect set-up — a great patio or balcony. Mandana or Kota sandstone, or even deck flooring, are good options to consider – they are more tactile when wet, a bonus, given Bengaluru weather patterns and the amount of laundry the average household generates. For those who have an ethnic-themed home, Athangudi tiles are worth considering.
Balconies and patios are also spaces which work doubly hard – used for household chores by the day, and as party venues by night. Free up as much space as you can. Mount collapsible clotheslines on the wall, or fix them to the ceiling. You can invest in getting one custom-made to suit your needs – treated wooden frames look great, and are weatherproof too.
For those who love their greens, pots and planters can often get in the way. Mount these on the walls as well. An expanse of succulents or leafy ferns makes for an arresting design statement, and is an efficient way to introduce plants into your balcony space. Be sure to confirm the wall you use is a load bearing one. You can also use window boxes, which can be fixed to your railings. A cacophony of blooms in these, and you’re serving up decor cheer all through the year!
If you like entertaining, but cannot find the space for usual patio furniture, get creative. Try a foldaway bench fixed to a wall. Invest a foldaway table that can be stored away and brought out for larger parties. An alternative to chairs could be cushions or pouffes. These can easily be part of your living room decor when you don’t need them out on your patio, are easy to clean and come in many varieties. More importantly, be sure to scale your furniture and garden items to the space you’re utilising. Often, an oversized planter or chair in a small balcony makes the space look crowded, even if it’s the only thing there.
Creativity & style
Having thought through the more functional aspects of your balcony or patio decor, you can now let your imagination and creativity loose. We’ve seen friends do up a corner of their patio into cosy reading nooks, perfect for curling up with a good book and a cuppa. Closed off to the elements, and styled with a comfortable sofa, throw, an area rug and a little footstool, it has quickly become everyone’s favourite spot.
Don’t be afraid to explore with colour and patterns. An accent wall in the balcony can be the perfect foil to offset your living room or bedroom decor style. You could even experiment with weatherproof wallpaper. The possibilities stretch as far as your imagination goes. Opt for a statement piece that becomes the central focus of your patio or balcony. This could be a statue you’ve loved, a statement urn, your preferred recliner, or even a plant. Lemon or rubber trees can make for an imposing sight, and are easily manageable as well.
For those working with larger spaces, creating islands of interest is a great way to break up an expanse into smaller, focused areas of style. Depending on your layout, you can create a separate space for your plants. Add in a stone urn to house lotuses, choose succulents and other hardy plants that can be easily taken care of, and even add in a bird bath. You could create a stone garden, or even display your collection of curios. These make for interesting focal points and help draw the eye in, creating the illusion of a cosier and more intimate space.
If you are unsure of a design style to follow for your space, choose a theme. This helps consolidate your efforts around a single inspiration source. For example, you can create a colour palette based on a painting you want to highlight. Or opt for an all-natural theme, starting with furniture in wicker or cane (make sure these are well treated and suited for the outdoors), adding in texture through other forms of wood, stone and even ceramics.
This is an easy look to pull off, and makes for a fabulous garden space, allowing you to experiment with various types of plants and foliage options as well.
The possibilities for creating a show-stopping balcony or patio space are many. It’s often the larger picture that throws off most homeowners – not many have a clear design style or theme in mind. Don’t make it an exhausting process; you can build your space up bit by bit, staggering investments and effort — so you can pick and choose your decor wisely.
(The author is founder & CEO, HomeCanvas.com)