a house isn’t a home without a balconyPosted: October 10, 2011
We’re pretty darn lucky to be able to have a nice sized (approx. 14.5 x 6.5 feet) balcony on the top floor of our laneway house. If we were buying an apartment elsewhere in the city, chances are we’d have a tiny, fake or non-existent outdoor space. It costs a little more to do something this large but since the garden between our house and my parent’s is going to be that much smaller, it feels important to have a bit more outdoor space of our own. We’d like to have part of the deck covered with a non permanent pergola style structure but we’ll have to see how much room we have… perhaps a nice tent will have to do. From what I understand of the building restrictions, we can’t have any permanent cover (ie: roof extention) over the balcony because that would make it possible to close it in and add square footage to the building. Still, with the amount of rain we get in Vancouver it seems wise to have a covered section so we can still enjoy sitting outdoors when it’s warm but rainy.. hopefully we can figure out something non-permanent that still looks nice.
We’re lucky to be surrounded by a few trees already, so that will make us feel like we’re more in nature. The image above is definitely inspiration for what we’d like to achieve, and is probably quite possible thanks to the existing tree and park directly across from us. The main difference is we can’t have a see-through railing due to privacy restrictions..(exposure to neighbours.. because we’re going to be sitting around nekkid out there?) but that’s alright – it gives us more privacy too (so we can sit around in the buff..yeah).Also, we won’t be able to have quite as a majestic door opening as in the image above. We do plan on having bi-fold doors though, since they can be pushed to one side and out of the way. It’ll be a standard double door sized opening.
Vertical gardens are a great way of adding greenery to a small space and have (rightfully) been gaining popularity over the last couple of years. We’ve got potential space on the walls of the house by the balcony door, but since we will have a fair bit of shade from the large (and still growing) maple tree outside we’ll really have to be careful with plant choices. I will write a post on good balcony plants for a partial sun balcony when we get to the spring time (with the help of my mom.) I also hope to grow some edibles – I love having fresh home grown food, even if it’s as simple as some lettuce and herbs. Here’s a pretty photo of some vertical gardening:
I also really love this idea found on Apartment Therapy. I’m a sucker for succulents.
Ok, what about seating? The best thing we’ve come up with for maximum space efficiency is a bench along the longest part of the balcony, perhaps wrapping around in the corner and along one short side to form an L shape, with a short table and a couple of extra chairs for snacking and drinking. The balcony might be large enough to have two separate areas on either end, with a taller dinner-height table on the opposite end from the low table area. I can picture it being pretty cozy with a couple of little zones like that.
Keeping with my hunting/scavenging habits I’ve had as of late for all things industrial, worn and/or vintage, I spotted this discarded construction spool and instantly pictured it as a patio table. Yes, I picked it up (uh huh, it was bloody heavy) and crammed it in our sedan’s trunk and brought it home. As I rolled the 3.5 foot wide spool through the back gate, my mom naturally asked where the heck I would store it in our small abode, but I managed to fit it under the deck’s stairs. There’s always somewhere! I intend to dry it out and stain it so as to spruce up but also preserve it’s current worn look as much as possible. I can’t tell you how excited I was to score this “reclaimed” find. Maybe I’m weird. Ok, I know I am.
Finally, where will more plants go? Our designer at Smallworks has figured out a couple options for having planters on the other side of the glass railing, so that will really allow us to green up the edges of the balcony and surround ourselves with nature. I also really like these cuties, as an alternative to box planters or perhaps mixed in with them..
It’s still hard to imagine all this sometimes, but it helps to write things out like this. I hope it’s also helpful to those pondering their own designs or laneway houses. Happy to read any ideas or feedback any time!