No matter how petite your balcony, treating it like an extra room guarantees the space will be more inviting and get more use. Add curtains to your balcony for privacy, light control or decorative effect. Heavier canvas panels will protect you from chilly weather, extending seasonal use of the outdoor perch. Light curtains for warmer weather disguise a less-than-perfect view or frame a pleasant one.
A set of sheer curtains, hung from the outer edge of the balcony, provides a modest bit of privacy in an apartment complex or crowded urban housing. Even with great neighbors, you may appreciate the chance to sip a morning cup of coffee, sans make-up and battle dress, without an audience. The translucent curtains filter afternoon glare and stir softly in an evening breeze. Remember that sheers act as a scrim after dark, hiding the outside world from you but highlighting the scene on the balcony if any light is present -- even a protected candle.
Your small balcony over the street or parking lot has just enough room for a tiny bistro table and two delicate chairs. But passersby have full access to the view of whomever is sitting there and the living space inside. Flip the concept of cafe curtains and hang weatherized cotton or canvas from the balcony railing to the floor. Grommets let you string gathered fabric on wire stretched along the railing or installed curtain rods on the inside of the top rail. Try a bold black-and-white vertical stripe to add some turn-of-the-century Paris flair to your mini-retreat. Flowerpots filled with lush ferns or vivid geraniums, secured along the railing, further obscure the view inside, while preserving your vista of wide open spaces.
Exotic and Adjustable
Horizontal bamboo poles, attached to the upper framework of the balcony, suspended from a protective balcony overhang, or built as a freestanding frame and lashed to the balcony railing, invite ever-changing, fluttering exotic decor. Drape silk saris or lengths of filmy, colorful fabric over the poles like sails or breeze-swept banners to add color and style to the small space. Furnish the balcony with wicker fan chairs and a ceramic elephant table, an inlaid carved Moroccan sandalwood or teak table and cushioned stools, or two rattan chaises and a bright woven rug. Switch the draped fabric to create a different look when the mood strikes. The easy decor is simple to pull inside if stormy weather threatens.
Plant a living curtain of trailing vines to hang down the sides and front of the balcony like a green beaded drape. If your balcony has a roof overhang, hook flowerpots from it at intervals to grow your living shield of greenery. On an open balcony with no roof, a frame of planters that runs around the perimeter of the balcony, suspended on corner posts, will hold sturdy vines. An alternative, if you have no way to hang planters overhead, is to station two tall trellises at either side of the balcony, planting flowers or shrubs you can train to cover the trellises. Or park two large pots at opposite corners of the balcony and fill them with tall, waving decorative palm trees or fast-growing bamboo, and enjoy your screen of green.
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