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5 overrated condo balcony fixtures (and their functional substitutes)

So you’ve just moved into a condominium unit and there’s a balcony. Now what?

Condo balconies tend to be larger than their HDB counterparts with full-length windows to boast. While homeowners with a green thumb rejoice at the natural sunlight their plant babies would be able to enjoy, others may find themselves stuck with additional space that comes with limitations that make it less liveable than other corners in the house.

If they made it an extension of the living room, they would have to pick out weather-resistant furniture that might clash with the indoor aesthetic. If they used it for storage, electronics and items that are prone to corrosion or dust are off the table. What is one to do?

More often than not, owners would take a leaf from magazines and purchase wooden furniture and basket swings they don’t end up using. Later, the balcony turns into a service yard for laundry or an open storeroom for bicycles or scooters which, while functional, are unsightly.

In this article, we share common pitfalls Singapore’s balconies and how homeowners can adapt them to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

1. Sliding doors > Folding doors

Let’s start with the balcony’s entrance. For good reason, sliding doors tend to be the default option. They’re quiet, easy to clean, and can be opened and shut quickly. However, sliding doors also distinctly separate your balcony and living room. This not only makes the liveable space in your house appear smaller, but also affects the congruence of interior design especially in open-concept homes.

Opting for folding doors instead of sliding ones is a quick fix for that. By collapsing all the way towards the walls on both ends, it connects the balcony and the living room seamlessly. In fact, black, steel frames could be a design element if you’re going for an industrial or mid-century modern look, whereas white or wooden ones would fit right into a Scandinavian or Japanese aesthetic.

2. Outdoor tables and chairs > Collapsible fixtures

Wooden tables and chairs are a popular option among new homeowners with dreams of alfresco dining down the line. But let’s be real - Singapore’s weather has stubbornly deprived us of that luxury with its 34 degree heat, and has no sign of letting up soon. Even if the chairs were foldable, the table ends up becoming a shelf of sorts.

Rather than dedicating half the balcony to the off-chance of a meal outdoors, it might be more realistic to insert bar tables along the railings. These take up far less space and more than suffice for quick coffee breaks, which the sweltering sun might still allow. Want to keep the option of a romantic candlelit dinner open? Swap the narrow strip out for a half-dome plank that, better yet, collapses when not used.

3. Basket swing > Reading nook

Every child has at some point dreamt about having a swing in the house. Since lawns and backyards are hard to come by, a swing naturally gets relegated to balconies. Take a glance at the balconies of condominium development and you would almost certainly find a hanging basket swing - with nobody sitting on it.

If you are married to the idea of having a swing for some reason, ditching a hanging basket swing for its plank counterpart and placing it along your balcony’s breadth would save tons of space. Alternatively, if you’re sold on the former’s rattan look, swap the swing with a cane reading nook that looks idyllic while remaining functional.

4. L-shaped sofa > Storage space

The condo showflats may have convinced you an L-shaped sofa is the best use of your balcony’s space, but let’s not forget that the piece of furniture is much easier to maintain in air-conditioned comfort than when subjected to sunshine, rainfall, and dust. If you don’t host large groups frequently, an L-shaped sofa may turn out to be a white elephant.

If additional seating space is a priority, consider an L-shaped bench instead of a sofa. Benches are made of hardier material that requires less maintenance, and doubles up as storage space to conceal clutter with. For the space-conscious, a simple bench leading against the balcony wall effectively does away with armrests and backrest.

5. Potted plants > Plant wall

Now that we’re spending so much time indoors, bringing nature indoors goes a long way. It’s not uncommon to see balconies of condominiums and HDB blocks alike being adorned - sometimes excessively - with potted plants and hanging vines.

But what happens when you end up spending more time maintaining the mess than enjoying the pace it brings? Well, you can always invest in vertical racks that limit the real estate your plant babies occupy, but a plant wall might be a less stop-gap solution. Folks who want a touch of greenery minus the hassle of caring for plants can even invest in an artificial plant wall that doubles up as a bicycle rack.

Condo balcony ideas

With some proper planning, you can even transform the balcony into a bar or take advantage of the water point to create a kitchen extension. This allows you to carve out storage space for bulky household appliances (and housewarming gifts) that have no room in your tiny kitchen.

So long as you do sufficient space planning before committing to renovation or furnishing, your balcony space will be in good hands.


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