Size doesn’t always matter
An Englishman’s home, we are reliably informed, is his castle. Only… what happens if you don’t happen to own a castle? In fact, far from living in castles, the migratory move into cities means many of us live in flats, which tend to be rather less turreted… and with intercom access rather than a drawbridge.
Further, the residential revolution has led to the regeneration of city centres, with loft living the desired choice for many younger people. I lived in such a flat (or apartment, if one wants to sound continental), but found that what you get in terms of urban living, can be paid for by what you lose in outdoor space.
However, if your outdoor space is limited, there is still much you can do to sculpt your little corner of the great outdoors. Here’s a 10-point guide of things to be thinking about, to make everyone a miniature metropolitan Monty Don:
If you want your terrace, balcony, or pied-à-terre to function as a space to chill out, you need to able to see green as you look about you… a little slice of nature transported into the concrete city.
In terms of bringing the outdoors in, an artificial lawn can of course bring any space to life. Equally, it is very easy to maintain, with the associated low maintenance you will need to keep the focus on other parts of your hectic metropolitan life.
Look to incorporate exotic and tropical plants – perhaps palms – that will give you the necessary foliage your outdoor space will need, to engender that relaxing dynamic. Group these plants to create an interesting look. The architect behind Manchester’s tallest apartment building, for instance, has palm trees throughout his penthouse apartment.
Pots and planters
When working with limited space, hanging baskets can cover wall space and add a different dimension in terms of height. You might want to include a large, colourful or attractive pot to make a statement. An etagere can also create a layered method of keeping your pot plants.
In terms of the actual plants themselves, go for impressive succulent like yuccas or sedums. These can be easy to maintain and not too demanding, in terms of TLC (think Kardashian).
You may well have spent a great deal of time on your interior design. Well, think of your outdoor space – whatever the size you have – as another room, and equally deserving of the designer’s touch.
Try to style your balcony or terrace so that it reflects your personality and requirements. However do bear in mind this is the outdoors, and any of your choices need to be weather-resistant… which is why artificial grass can form such a useful component.
Again, this is dependent on the space and what you want to do with it. Will you be merely relaxing, or entertaining? Drinking… or dining?
Have a look at the space and see whether it can accommodate outdoor dining furniture, or merely comfortable seating. You may find a small circular table, with a pair of folding chairs, will be the best option.
The quickest route to aesthetic ambience. Lanterns – either hanging or table-mounted – can create attractive lighting choices. You may also create desirable effects with LED lighting, which might be trailed around the balcony, or hung against the wall. DIY stores also now carry a decent range of solar-powered lamps.
You may have green fingers as well as a pin-stripe suit. Even with a limited space you will find you can grow edibles in a small space, perhaps in a container garden situated on your terrace. Herbs are always useful in cooking, for instance oregano or thyme, but you might also grow lettuce or other green veg.
Urban living may well place you in close proximity to other people. If you want your outdoor space to be more private, create a screen, either with tall plants, canes or bamboo. Then you can open up “Fifty Shades of Grey” in private.
You can now buy outdoor cushions, and even beanbags to relax into. Even better, why not run a hammock across the balcony, so that you can hover above your artificial lawn and slowly breeeeeeathe out….
Whichever you choose, we hope these ideas have given some good pointers as to how to make your urban life… urbane.