Simple Ways to Convert your Small Balcony into a Mini Garden

Many of those who live in high-rise apartment buildings always miss having a garden. We all love plants and gardens as they play a major role in our lives asides the fact that they are aesthetically pleasing, therapeutic, and calming.

Though we may not have a garden to enjoy like those who live on the ground floor, it doesn’t mean we can’t have one created one on our small balcony.

While a balcony can range from a size that will take only one or two people (with a tight squeeze) to a space large enough to take four, terraces which are much larger than balconies can conveniently take up to more, with some large enough to hold a small party of a dozen or so people.



Most of us have balconies though, so, how do you create a small garden on a 10th-floor apartment balcony? And if you are passionate about gardening, how do you intend to enjoy your hobby while living in a small 7th-floor apartment?

It’s really not hard and as long as you start with the basics, the floor, wall, and ceiling, you will soon know what you’ll require for each.

Floor

The best way to make a balcony a mini garden is to lay faux grass as its flooring. Forget ceramic tiles or stone flooring. You can find quality faux grass (artificial turf) in the market, online or off, especially at home improvement stores. They look and feel so much like grass, they'll even fool the cows!

Additionally, add a small cluster of potted plants. Make sure they are not in the way; besides they don’t have to be large potted plants. If you prefer, a lone plant in a clay pot will suffice. If you don’t have that much space, go vertical by placing them on stumps of tree trunks, or on mounted shelves

You can also create a bed of smooth pebbles, using a custom built metal trough not more than 10cm (4inches) deep. This feature, combined with the faux grass flooring will make your balcony seem like a mini-garden.



Walls

What great ways to create a garden feel than by mounting simple trellises on external walls on the balcony? A trellis is great for vines and creeping plants that flower. For a simple trellis, go for those made with light wood, bamboo, or slim metal bars.

You can also finish one wall with stones or bricks. There are ceramic tiles that look and feel like stone, and they come affordable. Apply this for a rustic feel that is typical of many gardens. Bricks will also look great when applied on a wall and painted any colour you desire.

Alternatively, you can fix slim shelves onto a wall and place a collection of ornamental small potted plants like cacti, aloe, asparagus ferns, staghorn ferns, and Chinese money plants. You can also use the shelves to display your growing herbs or vegetables.

The shelf sizes and numbers will be dependent on the available wall space, but something long and narrow along the wall can be used to showcase a beautiful range of plants. Keeping the width narrow allows them to sit within the space instead of dominating the small area. Arrange the plants in such a way that hanging plants are at the bottom, and those with more height are kept along the top, to softly frame the feature.



Ceiling

With the balcony ceiling, it depends on whether the balcony is open to the skies or covered with the floor slab of another level above. Any which way, you can still create a dramatic ceiling in your little outdoor space. It only requires a little imagination as there are no hard and fast rules on what works and what doesn’t.

For the open ceiling, you’ll need to shade your balcony. You can do this by building a pergola or awning structure with wood beams left in their natural form, or painted white. You can hang potted plants from it or train vines to grow over it. And because your balcony is small, it won’t cost you much.

For the overhead concrete ceiling, install hooks for a collection of hanging plants in pots or baskets. Hanging plants is one of the most visually impactful ways to decorate a small balcony ceiling.


Make Your Balcony an Extension of your Indoor Space


Balconies have the greatest impact as an extension of the indoors but for small balconies, your goal should be to bring the outdoors indoors, especially if there is barely any room to sit out with a cup of coffee and a book. If this is the case, set a couple of small wicker chairs (and table) or simple wrought iron chairs by the entrance leading to the balcony.


Small Balcony Design Ideas

For those lucky to have larger balconies, you may have enough space to seat a couple of people within your balcony space.

Visually, foliage beyond any room makes an impactful connection with the outdoors and will make the adjoining indoor space seem larger. So, even if you only have a tiny balcony, it will be worth your effort to create beautiful greenery out there, as it will provide a focal point beyond the boundaries of your interior walls.

Related:
Who Should you Hire for your Landscape Design?
How to Develop an Interior Design Concept 

*Images created with interior design software*

Best Ways to Design a Kitchen Layout

Beautiful kitchens are not only achieved by how pleasing to the eye the whole room is, but by how well they work for users, and how functional they are whilst in use. And being that a kitchen still remains the heart of most family homes no matter what age, it's a room (or space) in a home that needs special attention design-wise.



Having a successful kitchen that works effectively is fairly easy as long as its planner takes into account the fact that a kitchen activity flow must follow a triangular path. This is what kitchen designers refer to as the 'work triangle'.

Work Triangle in a Kitchen Layout


The work triangle in a kitchen plan is the distance between the sink, refrigerator and the cooker.
  1. The path of a kitchen's work triangle begins at the food storage area (refrigerator). This path's distance can range between 42" (1m) to 60" (1.5m) to both the kitchen sink and the cooker.
  2. The next point of the triangular path is the food cleaning and processing area (sink). The area and the counter-surface around it are where foods are cleaned, cut, mixed, stuffed, etc..., and set in readiness for cooking. Of course, it sometimes depends on the type of dish being prepared, for instance, salads require no cooking while beef stroganoff does.
  3. The last path of movement and point of the work triangle is the cooking area and this is the location where the oven, the stove, and microwave are installed. This is where the processed and mixed foods are cooked.

This triangular path works well for efficient activity flow and though kitchen designs should be (to some degree) adaptable to homeowners ways of life, certain things will still remain constant.

Nonetheless, the best kitchen planning involves following a flow pattern (whilst working) that heightens efficiency and saves both time and expended physical energy.

Kitchen Planning and Counter-Tops


The standard requirement for a kitchen countertop's width is 60cm (24") but in some regions of the world, you'll find lesser countertop widths of 50cm (20") and 55cm (22"). The lengths of these work surfaces will always depend on a kitchen's size (area) and its length and breadth.

Backsplashes, a vertical addition to counters, are an essential part of kitchen cabinet surfaces though today's backsplash offers more that protection from splatters of food and splashes of liquid. Modern kitchen planners now use them in a wide number of ways to add beauty to their kitchen design ideas. You'll find them in materials ranging from colourful PVC based strips to glass, stainless steel, ceramics, and wood.

Counter-tops that end in dead-end corners can serve as surfaces to place containers or food items that are going to be used or stored away.

Proper Planning Ensures Design Success


Asides all the technicalities involved in planning a great kitchen, this room, being the hub area for the whole family, should be as spacious as is possible; it must be warm and welcoming, have ample storage in terms of open and/or closed cabinets, a walk-in larder if space permits (or one built into the cabinetry), and a serving counter-top and/or a breakfast counter.

A waste disposal unit in the kitchen sink, central island cookers with down draft extraction fans, an intercom system, telephone and double ovens, built in warming trays and microwaves is good to consider during kitchen planning, adds to the ease of cooking and affords forms of entertainment.

Many homeowners plan that their kitchen is in close proximity to a utility room. Well-positioned utility rooms could provide spaces for deep freezers, washing machines, dryers, folding tables, (for laundry), ironing boards, and sinks (or half baths).

This room which is best as an appendage to a kitchen should have counter-tops, cabinets and open shelves

A kitchen planned with an accessible garage should not only have space for just parked cars, there must also be extra space for storage and if possible, a tiny workshop.


For the newly liberated empty nesters, now that there is more space per square foot (metre) available for just the two people, it's advisable to consider your kitchen planning to include wider doorways and easy-to-reach kitchen furniture.

This will be a practical factor in the years to come because of easy access and movement around the kitchen either with a wheelchair or just for the ease of manoeuvring.

Related:
5 Efficient Kitchen Layouts 

Why Every Interior Designer Needs 3D Software Program


It is getting a bit harder to sell an interior design concept these days simply because the average client requires a much more graphic representation of whatever idea an interior designer is selling them.

Gone are the days when designers tediously sketched out floor plans and elevations, all in an effort to get their creations understood.

From space planning to floor plans, elevations, sections, working drawings, renderings, and perspectives, it was an arduous task trying to make most clients understand the vertical and horizontal lines, symbols and annotations that always came with hand sketched drawings.

While some may pretend to understand the drawings coupled with interior designers’ jargon, most didn’t have a clue as to how it all fits together. Because of this, mood boards had to be put together in a manner that helped the clients understand what to expect.


Interior Design Layout Generated with Design Software

 

9 Reasons a Designer Needs to be Software Savvy


1. Moving with the times is a good indication of professionalism. Clients will prefer to work with interior designers that will satisfy their visual needs and if you can provide them with picture-perfect details of your creations, they believe they are working with a professional. Professionalism! Separates you from the mediocre.

2. The most brilliant way to convey your ideas to clients and craftsmen is through visual representations. From space plan and structure to colour finish and choice of appliances, your precise drawings and images can only be generated with CAD software

3. The time it takes to complete a design project is cut considerably, and you can achieve results in a matter of hours when you let technology work for you. Not like the days of old when it took a few weeks to come up with a final workable plan.


4. Clients love to see images, especially when they are photo-realistic. Design a living room with all furniture, furnishings, and lighting using interior design software, generate your drawings in both 2D and 3D, and watch your clients’ jaws drop. They can almost ‘walk’ into the image and sit on the sofa!

5. When you work with interior design software, the resources you require are cut to the barest minimum. No need for a draftsman, a drafting table, T-square, templates, rolls (or pads) of paper, etc... These are now archaic tools. All you need is a laptop, design software in CD or downloadable form, and a small desk and chair. And best of all, you can work solo!

6. You can work with clients from all over the world if you work with software programs that are created for interior designers. It’s the only way to send visual representations to clients, wherever they may be. You can work with each other online, create virtual designs you can walk your client through, and even go a step further by helping them choose furniture and furnishes they can purchase for themselves from vendors you recommend.

7. Software generated pictures and images tell your story in an instant. You’ll find you won’t need any long-winded and sometimes tiring explanation; neither will you have to convince your client that the 1m by 1.5m area rug is the best fit for the living area. Your software generated image will say it all.



8. For instance, if your client prefers a built-in wardrobe system in the master bedroom to a standalone unit, corrections can be done in one minute, at a click of a button. No need for an ink eraser, no going back and forth to re-design and then re-present, which can add on a couple of days. No time wasting.

9. Interior design software is such a joy to use once you master the basics. And it’s not that hard to master. Many designers will gladly ‘burn the midnight oil’, working on a project, simply because working with a design program is fun to use. Imagine drawing from scratch to producing 3D photo-realistic images in just a few hours. Doesn’t that sound exciting?



What’s the Best Interior Design Software to Use?


Many interior designers can’t decide on the best program to use and that’s understandable because there are more than a few out there in the market.

However, it is up to you to decide what’ll work best for you, the kind that best fits your work habits and brand.

Do you want a basic simple design software or one that’s more advanced with a ton of features?

Some programs are more sophisticated than others and may require you attend online courses or hire a tutor to understand its principles. But then there are other programs that are very easy to learn by yourself.

But whatever you decide, you must ensure you chose an interior design software that successfully integrates 2D and 3D designs, is highly intuitive, and very versatile.

  • Software for Interior Designers - Recommended software programs (depending on your level - basic, intermediate, or expert), depending on the scope of works required for your interior design presentations:

9 Brilliant Budget-Friendly Renovation Ideas

Renovations don’t come cheap, and while it has been said that it’s good to refurbish a home every ten years on average (a room refurbishment varies from six to eight years), depending on the extent of makeover desired, to upgrade interiors need not be expensive or cumbersome.

3D WALL PANELLING
Interior design and décor styles do go out of fashion too, especially if you follow vogues and trends that quietly slip away after a few years. For those who fall under this group, you’ll always need to refurnish, re-paint, and select new schemes and themes on a continuous basis. Expensive ventures!

But you don’t have to spend loads of money for renovation works and you need not wait a decade to upgrade your interior space. You can always achieve a charming uplift in a budget-friendly manner if you follow these brilliant tips which will ensure the look of your interior never goes out of style.

1. For a timeless look, a style that stays around for a long time, stick to classic furnishings. To give a refreshing look every few years, you can update them with décor items and accessories like wall art, throw pillows, sculptures, personal keepsakes, and framed photographs. Never underestimate how simple accessories can complete a design concept and ‘finish’ a room.

2. To inject a fresh look new look into a room that looks ‘tired’, renovate in a simple but effective way. Change the lampshades (shape, colour, or both), add new throw pillows with classic patterns, texture, and complementary colours, display new vases or urns and place a water fountain on the coffee table or an elaborate one on the floor.

3. Flooring - Introduce budget-friendly but stylish changes that never go out of fashion. A good example is engineered hardwood floors. They are not only a great choice to transform an interior space, but they also remain stylish and never fade in and out of the usual trend patterns.

ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

4. Add moldings and cornices to liven up the walls. Paint them is soft colours that will enhance the entire interior space. For a more traditional look, add dado rails.

5. Adorn the walls with art – large one piece items, or clusters of small framed art to form a gallery. A feature wall can be created from a wall filled with framed photographs, a wall-hung tapestry or huge framed painting accented with directional spot lighting.

6. Change the main wall finish and turn it into a feature wall using paintable embossed wallpaper or 3D wall panels (three-dimensional decorative wall panels). They are lightweight and can be painted to any desired colour. Having feature walls are great ways to transform both commercial and residential interiors, without having to carry out major refurbishing works to create aesthetically pleasing spaces.

PAINTED 3D WALL PANELLING

7. Interior walls and ceiling finish – It is best choosing neutral colours, warm or cool. Neutral colours work well with everything and serve as a wonderful backdrop to furniture and furnishings.

8. Create cove lighting for a dropped ceiling in a living or dining zone. The false ceiling with hidden lights will transform a room remarkably especially if dropped over a specific zone in the interior space. Cove lights work great in both modern and traditional style interiors and can also be regarded as timeless.

CEILING COVE LIGHTING

9. Remember to create a sense of flow with colour choice. Finishing one room starkly different from the other is a fad that wears thin pretty fast. You may find you need to change that colour within a couple of years. Repeat at least one finish throughout the home.

Related:
9 Eclectic Style Mistakes - Why You Got the Design Concept Wrong
How to Create Zones Within a Room




Interior Lighting and Its Effect on Your Colour Scheme

Every interior designer knows that a carefully conceived and chosen colour scheme can be ruined, either by a single or cluster of glaring interior lights, and if your entire room is lit only with dim lights, there will be a depressing mood in the room, asides the fact that there will be insufficient lighting in different zones of the room’s interior.



When a room is lit effectively, you will observe that colour tones change with different lighting illuminates. This is why any interior space will have a completely different colour palette and ambience when viewed under different types of lighting like daylight, incandescent lights, warm (or cool) fluorescent light fixtures, and halogen lights.

Effects of Daylight on Colour Scheme


A good design job demands you consider the effects of natural light on colours, textures, and patterns. For instance, bright sunlight conveys a wonderful feel on both warm and cold colours. Its effect on lighter colours and pastels is radiant and bright, and on darker colours, bright light makes them look crisp and ‘illuminated’.

Effects of Incandescent Interior Lights


Rich, bold and intense colour schemes that look pleasing during the daytime are usually dulled by incandescent lights at night. And though incandescent lights emphasise colours like yellow and red, which means they accentuate red, orange, and tan, they, however, produce a dulling effect on blue, burgundy, and violet tones.

Fluorescent Light and Its Effect on Colours


There are two types of fluorescent lighting, warm and cool. Both types are popularly used by interior designers in their lighting designs. Fluorescent lights have a different spectral energy distribution of light which makes them emphasise blue and green colours while blunting reds and orange tones.

Halogen Light Effects on Interior Design Colour Scheme


They are white lights which bear a resemblance to natural light. Halogen lights make all chosen colours appear more vibrant and have a way of making the transition from daylight to artificial light a bit less ‘jarring’ like it does with incandescent lights especially.


On a final note, because of the different way differing lights affect colour schemes, it may be wise for an interior designer to select colour samples in the rooms or spaces in which they are to be used, under both day and night light.

And if for any reason this is not possible, the next best thing is to choose colours under an identical lighting source using approximately the same illumination level . . . bright, mood enhancing, or dim.