Having a balcony—big or small—is a blessing in an apartment. Its ability to maximize living space is one of the biggest advantages of having a balcony. A private balcony can be used to create a green spot in your home or for entertaining. Whether you live in a city or in a quiet town, a balcony also offers you an opportunity to interact with nature from the comfort of your home. A balcony adds aesthetic value not only to your apartment but also to the building as a whole. A balcony also adds to the market value of your property. A higher level of privacy is also a big advantage balcony have over yards and gardens. This can be attributed to the height of a balcony. While fences are a necessity in gardens, you need not build walls to protect your privacy in a balcony.
The size of your balcony is a key factor that determines the design of the balcony. Another factor that plays an important role in designing a balcony is the direction it faces. To determine which side your balcony faces, note the side the sun rises from as the east and sets in as the west. If the sun rises from the right of your balcony and sets to the left, you have a north facing balcony. North facing balconies are often not favored but when designed well, can be an ideal space for to relax in. Like everything else, a balcony that faces the north has its advantages and disadvantages.
Depending on which way you look at it, the amount of the sunshine a north-facing balcony receives can be an advantage or disadvantage. Unlike an east or west facing balcony, a north-facing balcony received limited sunlight and an abundance of shade. This keeps your balcony cool even in the hot summer months. A cool balcony will, in turn, cool the rest of the house.
The limited sunshine a north-facing balcony receives can make it seem colder than usual in winter. Without additional lighting to supplement natural light, a north-facing balcony can also seem gloomy at times. Minimal sunlight also affects the draining quality of soil by making it retain water instead of letting it drain away. This also limits the types of plants that can be grown on a north-facing balcony.
Having understood the advantages and disadvantage of a north-facing balcony, here are a few tips to help you design one.
Outdoor flooring materials are typically designed to withstand natural elements and have a long life. For a north-facing balcony, you could use stone tiles or interlocking deck tiles. Wooden flooring is not suited to the north-facing balconies. The minimal sunlight it receives will not allow the wood to dry completely thus leaving it damp and prone to mould and fungus growth. A synthetic carpet can also be used to brighten up a north-facing balcony. Floating floor tiles are also a good option for north-facing balconies as they feature an open profile that allows air to circulate around the tile keeping it dry.
The first factor to be considered when choosing furniture for a balcony is the purpose of the balcony. A north-facing balcony will typically be used for entertaining and as a sit out. Thus easy chairs and hammocks are ideal furniture pieces for a north facing balcony. When it comes to material, avoid all types of wood. Since a north-facing balcony does not receive a lot of sunlight, wooden furniture will take longer to dry if damp which can encourage the growth of mold and fungus. Instead, choose plastic or metal furniture that can withstand rain and other natural elements. Use loose cushions and throws to soften the look of these chairs.
This pretty design has been done by Renato Teles Arquitetura based in Natal.
Since a north-facing balcony does not receive a lot of sunlight, it can look gloomy and depressing is not decorated with the right colours. Avoid gray and beige tones and pick bright colours instead. Since this area is not soaked in sunlight, you do not have to worry about fabrics fading or losing their freshness. While choosing colours for a balcony, the size of the balcony is also a key factor. For small balconies, it is not advisable to sue more than one bold colour as this can make the space look smaller. Along with colours, also, experiment with prints in the north-facing balcony.
There is a limited variety of plants that are suited to the north-facing balconies. Along with choosing plants that are suited to be grown in containers, you should also choose plants that need minimal sunlight. Regular flowering varieties like roses are typically not suited to the north-facing balconies. A few flowering plants that do well in north facing balconies are begonias, impatiens, fuchsia, periwinkle and lily of the valley. Complement these with ornamental plants that thrive in the shade like caladium and coleus. Ivy and all types of ferns also thrive in shady areas and add beauty to your balcony. A north-facing balcony can also be used to grow vegetables like spinach, green peas, and lettuce along with herbs like mint, parsley, and oregano.
Additional light sources are a necessity in most north-facing balconies to compensate for the lack of sunlight. Choose from a range of wall mounted lights and pedestal lights for your balcony depending on your style preference and the amount of space available. Avoid solar powered lights as these will typically not be exposed to the amount of sunlight they require to charge. Fairy lights are ideal for all balconies and can pair well with all styles of design.
There is no universal guide to designing the perfect balcony. List out the advantages and disadvantages of your balcony and base your design on these points. A good balcony design will accentuate its plus points and compensate for its drawbacks.
For more ideas read How to make the most of your north-facing balcony.
Sunrise apartments or those that get the early morning sun can be advantageous if designed well as you can enjoy the sunrise and experience the benefits of the early morning sun’s rays on your body. Adding greenery, a seating arrangement or even wooden deck flooring for doing some morning yoga are some ideas that help you to make the most of it. If nothing else, you can place a small patio table and chair for sipping your tea or coffee and watching the sunrise from a north facing balcony.
In an apartment with north facing balconies, make sure that you choose plants that can survive without too much sunlight as once the sun travels over the apartment the garden will be in the shade during the rest of the day. These gardens might not be the place to catch some sun during the winters, but in summer, they are an excellent place to enjoy some fresh air in the outdoors in the evenings as the balcony gets only a few hours of direct sunlight in the early morning.
Don't forget to install suitable storage solutions in your balcony to keep it clutter-free.