Creating a fun and inviting outdoor space

I was recently contacted to style a very large balcony in Zürich. At almost 38 m2, the balcony offered great potential but its shape proved tricky: it consists of 2 large interconnected triangles. The other challenge was the fact that this apartment is on the lower ground and the balcony offered no privacy at all from the street. The client wanted something inviting, fun and easy to use (she has 3 young children).

Terrasse plan

The privacy issue was key to address as my client felt she couldn’t really enjoy her balcony as it was. I suggested to use a vegetal screen with artificial bambou plants that require no maintenance whatsoever (my client didn’t feel like gardening and trying to keep plants alive throughout our Swiss winter!). Those artificial bambous either come in a set screen or in pots, to be placed strategically and act as a visual divider with the street. The trick is that those plants do not block off the light and therefore are a much gentler, softer kind of fencing. They will also be evergreen, everlasting – ideal.

Outdoor dining areaThe shape of the balcony actually lent itself to naturally create two separate zones: an outdoor eating area and a lounge area. I decided to focus on those two distinct spaces and link them through colour and texture choices. The client already had a wooden dining table that could perfectly be integrated into the scheme.

Outdoor lounge areaHere are my top tips to create a cohesive fun and inviting outside space:

  1.  Zone the distinct areas with colourful outdoor rugs that ground the scheme and confer warmth and comfort to the space
  2. Choose summery colours that awaken the whole space and make it fun and appealing to entertain outside. Turquoise, teal, mustard, coral evoke old Mexico and vintage summer vibes. They are all strong but muted colours, which are easier to live with on a daily basis. They are used here as ‘accents’ against the grey,  white and glass of the balcony: they balance out the very neutral background while creating a visual rhythm through contrast
  3. Layer textures, patterns and colours to break up the outside space which can be raw and cold (here we had a combination of concrete, stone and metal). This will  make it much more interesting, inviting and comfortable
  4. Focus on ‘warm’ and natural textures to soften the whole look. Some rattan ottomans, patterned rugs, cotton scatter cushions, plants, wood are all ideal to bring warmth, coziness and style to an outside space
  5. Don’t forget lighting, be it natural daylight or evening artificial light. It is key to create the perfect ambiance. Filter the light during the day with the use of tall plants or a pretty sun umbrella. For the evening, go for plenty of candles either displayed together on a tray or in beautiful hurricane lamps. And a couple of outdoor string lights to set the late night party tone!

For the client to better visualise the use of the space, I prepared a small 3D drawing that tied together some of the suggested elements for the lounge area scheme.

3D drawing 1

My client is now finalising her 2 extra rooms in her apartment that will be just perfect for those balmy summer nights!


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