Over the next few posts, I will be sharing some ideas on the space planning for each of the space available in my unit. This will form an idea book for myself as well as anyone who reads this blog. Since I had picked a unit with a balcony entrance, I shall start with my favourite space, as well as the first space in my unit’s layout: The Balcony!
I had touched on this topic before in my previous posts. Hence, there will be some repeated ideas. However, this post focuses more on my unit’s floor plan: the L-Shaped Balcony. Hence, you will see some more ideas popping out. 🙂
Not counting the common misuse of balconies in Singapore as a yard for the laundry or as a storage space, there are still many more appropriate uses of balconies. A few common uses that comes to one’s mind would be a garden, an outdoor dining space or a sports gear display/storage space. Being blessed with a L-Shaped balcony allows a good opportunity to create two functions in one balcony. Let’s first list down the possible functions of a balcony:
Creating a garden in a balcony is a common use, albeit a very suitable one. Even when built in a small balcony, in a restrained way, the greenery can add visual comfort, and doubles up as screens for more privacy. With artificial grass and weather resistance wood or engineered wood, the whole landscaping of a balcony into a garden becomes ever more complete. Throw in water feature and you will have a beautiful space to enjoy. More often than not, home owners tend to throw in some seats to enjoy their coffee or lounge in the greenery.
Small garden in a balcony, complete with a counter for that quick bite with a view, or enjoy a cup of coffee among the greenery (Picture from Better Homes and Gardens)
Take a relaxing seat for a cup of coffee and admire the fruits of your labour which you had put in so much effort to grow (Picture from Garden Design Idea).
Alternatively, you can simply create a small little corner to gather your little pots of flowers and plants. Decorate it with some pebbles or use bonsais for that calming, zen effect or use a palette of colourful pots to add that vibe to your garden (Picture from The Self Sufficient Living)
Go vertical – Going vertical doesn’t always mean you have to build a typical vertical garden that fills up the entire wall. Make use of all that wall space to add shelves to hold the pots. This creates a less cluttered vertical garden option, which is my personal preference (Pictures from Goods Home Design).
Water features, stone features and wood elements works very well together to create a beautiful garden. A small corner space would suffice to create this garden corner (Picture from Goods Home Design).
An entrance that leads to a balcony rather than the traditional apartment layout of having a balcony accessed from the living room, allows the balcony to be used as a mudroom. A mudroom is a casual transition space for putting on or removing off and storing your shoes, outerwear or wet clothing/umbrellas before entering the main living space. Mudrooms are usually designed with hard wearing tiles and storage for ease of cleaning to avoid dirtying your main living space.
Get Creative! Paint each section with chalk paint to allow the kids to participate in the home design by allowing them to personalise their section (Picture from Houzz).
For narrow entryways, you can still create a small mudroom with hangers and a small suspended cabinet to keep your stuff (Picture from Apartment Therapy).
Hang that larger-than-life mirror for the drama with a good function. A mirror is an essential “last check” before leaving home (Picture from Decoist).
Get Organised! In entryways where space is such a premium and could not even accommodate a floating cabinet, consider a wall-hanged organiser such as the Vitra Uten.Silo by Dorothee Becker designed back in 1969 (Picture from Apartment Therapy).
3) Outdoor Dining/Breakfast Nook
Another common use of large balconies in Singapore is as an outdoor dining space or breakfast nook for that cup of hot coffee in the morning or a calming cup of tea in the night breeze. With limited space in apartments in land-scarce Singapore, outdoor space is a premium and enjoying a cup of coffee under the stars can be a good experience, if you live in a high enough unit to enjoy the breeze. Otherwise, it would be dust from the roads and humidity from the air.
If space permits, put a full sized outdoor table to create an outdoor dining space. It works exceptionally well for home owners who are frequent entertainers with additional seating space created. The rugged furniture also allows easy cleaning after the guests’ enjoyment (Picture from B&B Italia, Qanvast and Project File).
Wicker 4) Outdoor Lounge
Having an outdoor lounge is a little bit more rare due to the need for a large balcony. More commonly applicable of such spaces, would be in penthouses with large open terraces. The owners and guests would then be able to truly lounge and enjoy the stars in the night skies without the need to stretch your necks in bid to gaze the stars.
Create an interesting outdoor lounge with colourful and visually interesting designs. Furniture are always a good way to inject fun and conversation into the balcony design (Picture from Qanvast and DHome Studio).
In balconies with limited width, placement of a small bench or small outdoor armchairs ae easy ways to create a lounge space. Completes the picture with a well designed “garden scape” (Pictures from Houzz)
5) Outdoor Bar
This is one good application of space in a balcony. You can’t beat the great feeling of having a glass of beer or wine while looking out to a great view. Well, that is, if there is a great view from your balcony. Assuming that a relatively unblocked view is a great view (that’s about all you could ask for in the high rise land of Singapore), you could build a high table and place a few high stools to enjoy your drinks. This is an exceptionally use of a balcony if you are regular hosts to family and friends for events or parties.
Add a bar table and high stools to create a nice ambient for a drink (Picture from Balcony Ideas and Design).
6) Sports Gear Showroom/Storage
The sporty home owners will find this use of balcony attractive. Where else would be a better place to store your outdoor gears than an outdoor space? Show off your carbon fiber frame sports bikes by hanging them up on the wall. They act both as a conversation piece as well as a visual focus for your guests and fills up an otherwise empty wall. Storing all your sports gears in an entrance balcony also doubles the sports space as a functional mudroom.
Maximise the use of your wall space! Put your bikes on the racks or build quirky storage nooks. Add shelving for your sports gear. The little ones can join in the fun too. 🙂 (Picture from Houzz and Not a Paper House)
7) Golf Putting Green
Well, if you have acres of balcony space, yes, this would be an interesting idea (Even though a small putting green can technically be created as per the picture below). However, do remember to cover up your grilles with acrylic panels to avoid dropping your golf ball down your building and hurting someone. 🙂 Other than a novelty factor, this would be pretty much a waste of space, even for a golf lover. Well, unless you really really have heaps of space available and you have no idea what to do with it.
With an L-Shaped Balcony and a balcony entrance layout, I would likely break the L-Balcony into 2 sections: The Mudroom and a Lounge/Dining/Drinking Space. Garden elements will be fused into the entire space. The entrance would invite us into a rustic mudroom with materials commonly found in gardens such as stone and wood. Plenty of storage will be built into the garden elements. The turn of the L-Balcony will include an armchair for lounging, an extendable outdoor dining table and a little bar counter facing the balcony grilles. Of course, in tropical Singapore, adding a ceiling fan above the dining table would be a must to allow me to truly enjoy the outdoor space. 🙂