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    Transform Your Condo Balcony into a Retreat

    Written By Lorena Beccari

    Transform Your Condo Balcony into a Retreat

    Homeowners go through great pains to create the perfect aesthetic in their home — unfortunately, that aesthetic doesn’t often extend to the balcony.

    Condo balconies are somewhat of an enigma. Many buyers refuse to consider a unit without a dedicated balcony space, and yet, these balconies tend to be left empty and are underutilized. It’s not that condo buyers aren’t creative, rather, condo balconies can be difficult to decorate.

    Matching colour palettes and creating gallery walls might come naturally inside your condo, but finding the perfect look for that concrete slab hanging off the side of your building can be a challenge. Which is why so many of them appear empty from street level.

    By nature, the majority of condo balconies are lacking pizzazz, but with some strategizing and a little TLC, you can turn your bland balcony into a year-round retreat. Just keep in mind that you should also set a budget beforehand to try to stay within.

    balcony designs

    When It's Cold Outside

    Our winter's bite. As the mercury plummets and the flurries begin many of us choose to abandon our balconies for the duration of the season. Who wants to spend time on your balcony when it's minus 10 degrees Celsius? Well, you might, provided that you've purchased the right heater.

    Patio heaters come in a range of styles and sizes. As well, many are battery powered and electric. You don't need to break the bank or track down a specialty store to find one. Chances are your local hardware store will have plenty of heaters to choose from and at varying price points. As always, you’ll want to check your condo board before making a purchase to ensure that heaters are permitted.

    Adding a heater to your condo balcony can enable you to enjoy morning coffee in the great outdoors 12 months of the year, and when you're finished with your balcony remodel, you'll want to maximize your time.

    Balcony heater

    Cold Feet

    Now to deal with that cold concrete floor. For the most cost-effective flooring, a simple outdoor rug will likely do the trick. Considering the array of options for rugs, it's also the most likely to match your desired aesthetic, and adding some texture to your balcony can improve the look. However, if you're willing to splurge, why not go for wood? Deck tiles are found at a number of retailers such as Rona, Walmart and Canadian Tire and most local hardware stores. Deck tiles are relatively easy to install, cut and maneuver, enabling you to shape your flooring to fit your space. These tiles are quite durable too, so you won't be needing to replace them after a year. Just note that not all condo by-laws allow them.

    deck tiles

    Balcony Tetris

    Size matters here, a lot. While some would suggest that you should buy whatever furniture suits your style and live with a cluttered balcony, that’s not always a wise decision. Choosing large or oversized furniture will force your guests to step over your feet, or worse, lean against a rail to avoid your clunky table (that’s not much fun when you’re thirty storeys up.)

    When it comes to seating, you'll want to balance comfort, style, and durability. With a covered balcony you can open up your search to include retro furniture such as an old wooden bench, or even materials that aren’t weather resistant. Procuring your own pillows and cushions will enable you to create a truly unique piece.

    balcony tetris

    If all of that sounds too time consuming, there are multiple retail locations to find a complete set, whether you're seeking something modular or made of a solid frame. And if all else fails and your tiny balcony cannot accommodate a set, folding chairs and tables are a great option.

    Plant Life

    Greenery is one of the better ways to add a pop of colour to your drab balcony. Plants can be cheap, and even free with some sleuthing and solid communication skills; it’s true, you can find plenty of people who are looking to relocate plants from their property, but you’ll probably need to pick them up yourself.

    But where do you start? Which plants should you buy? Dressing your condo balcony with a mixture of evergreens and seasonal plants that you bring in during winter can really complete the look. Small potted cedars for example, can be groomed and kept small and healthy on a condo balcony with partial sun exposure. Just be sure to match your plants to their environment.

    Plant life

    A strawberry bush might flourish on an open balcony with southern exposure and die out in partial coverage or a different exposure. Try to plan your planters ahead of time, but don’t be afraid of failing. Not everyone can wield a green thumb on their first try.

    Keep it Secret - Keep it Safe

    If you've chosen potted cedars for a touch of greenery, then you might have privacy under control. A balcony that opens to its neighbours can easily be covered by potted Cedars on either end, creating a makeshift wall between your balcony and those of your neighbours. If not, there are some creative solutions.

    Privacy screens are one of more common privacy remedies. They come in a variety of materials and styles and can be shaped to fit many different spaces. Of course, it’s essential to check with your condo board beforehand to ensure that screens are permitted on balconies.

    In some cases, a retractable screen could be your best bet as it will enable you to close off your space and open it when needed.

    ikea screen


    One of the chief complaints among condo residents is a lack of dedicated storage space. While some condo residents do store bicycles on their balconies or have a large storage locker, that’s not always the case. Utilizing your balcony for storage might sound like a bad idea, but it can actually work quite well provided that your furniture has a built-in storage component.

    By purchasing outdoor furniture with built-in storage, you add some much-needed square footage to your unit. Your winter boots or bicycle helmet, or even barbecue utensils can be safely stored in a cabinet on your balcony. This will reduce your clutter inside and also improve the look of your balcony. A win­‑win.

    balcony storage

    Create Dedicated Spaces

    Depending on square footage, this mightn’t be an option, however, if your balcony is a reasonable size then creating dedicated spaces can really improve your balcony vibe. Try creating space for a small reading chair with a foot stool in the corner; a loveseat or a sectional for guests or simply carve out some space for your yoga mat.

    Creating defined spaces will improve both the look of your balcony as well as the functionality — no furniture askew for you.

    This becomes infinitely more important if you have children. A picture frame and some chalkboard paint is all that’s required to create a small learning area on your balcony. That won’t make homeschooling any easier, but it might give you some extra breathing room.


    Lighting your condo balcony can be tricky, depending on whether you have an exterior outlet. Fortunately, numerous solutions are available for those without an exterior outlet.

    If you’re one of the lucky few who have an exterior outlet, you might fancy a set of patio lanterns or perhaps a basic set of string lights. Those without outlets can procure a battery powered set, though, battery life is fairly limited.

    solar power lights

    Solar powered string lights by comparison are much more efficient, and generally cost around $50. They’re capable of lighting up an entire balcony if positioned properly and have enough juice for a lengthy nighttime gathering.

    Should you still desire more lighting, a Bluetooth speaker with a built-in light can be a great addition (at a neighbour-friendly volume).

    Add Ons

    Have you always wanted a water feature in your backyard but you live in a condo? While by no means ideal, there’s no hard and fast rule stating that condo balconies cannot have a water feature; actually, there are a number that are intended for just that.

    Choosing a portable, battery powered fountain for your table or just to tuck in the corner will add some serious Zen to your balcony reprieve. These water features typically range between $20 and $50. Their compact size makes them perfect for balconies and adding the sound of rushing water to your own slice of life will make it easier to drift into that new novel or forget about a long day at work.

    Consider a Theme

    It’s never a bad idea to try and match the aesthetic on your balcony to the inside of your condo. This can create a feeling of uniformity. With that being said, sometimes what you want in a balcony is an escape — and a theme can help with that.

    Creating a theme can be a great option if you’re needing a break from the city but can’t get away for a vacation. From tropical, to jungle, to desert, or Parisian, whatever your taste, giving your balcony a one-of-a-kind identity will grant you an enhanced appreciation for your concrete slab.

    Create a theme

    Likewise, your theme might be a hodgepodge of colours and styles. Mixing and matching plants and furniture can also create an authentic balcony retreat, unlike any other.

    Final Considerations

    Curating a balcony retreat can dramatically improve your quality of life — more so during challenging times (such as a pandemic). Regardless of what aesthetic you choose, it’s essential that you check with your condo board before committing to any large purchases, and don’t spend beyond your means.

    As well, it’s never a bad idea to consider how your layout and decisions might affect your neighbours. Blazing lights and a Bluetooth speaker on bust 24/7 might turn your balcony retreat into a place of great conflict!

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