Balconies: making the most of a small outside space

If you’re lucky enough to have a flat or apartment with outside space, make the most of it!

When we bought our flat, one of the things we loved the most was having balconies. The one to the north of the property was pretty small and to be honest, as it was adjoined to our spare room, we only ever used it for plants and storage.

But the balcony to the south of the property, with views towards the sea, was perfect to create our own little outdoor space. I was itching to get some plants and some seating out there and transform it into a little paradise; somewhere to sit with a glass of wine on a summer evening and listen to the sea in the distance.

What we had to contend with though, were bold blue sheets of colour from the original decor in the 70s.

It wasn’t very inspiring, to say the least.

We also had strict rules from our managing agent that we weren’t allowed to fix anything to the walls or railings.


Pinterest very quickly became both our friend and our foe, tempting us with various images of things we both could and couldn’t do.

There was ladder shelving filled with greenery and staggered herb pots with old boxes, and chalk paint labels. Sadly, both of these were no-go options unless we broke the rules and fixed it to the walls or watched them constantly topple down in the wind.

However, these images gave us an idea to adapt.

We started looking at planters made from old reclaimed crates and wondered whether we’d be able to get them made to fit our little area, and cover up that horrible blue.

Luke’s brother is a carpenter so we showed him  images similar to what we wanted and challenged him to do it.

The results were perfect.

These planters are made from reclaimed pallets which can be picked up fairly cheaply at most builders yards.

The majority of the planter is hollow, with space for soil only at the top fifth of the unit. Due to the narrowness of the planter, we’d only be able to get little plants in anyway and this meant that we didn’t have to fill the base with ridiculous amounts of soil.

The types of plants we decided to go for perfectly reflected our theme of the flat and our location. Seagrasses and small flowers found along the coast made our balcony feel perfect for our seaside setting. We read a lot of conflicting views about the planting of grasses so close to saltwater spray but we didn’t have any problems here – possibly due to the slight shelter of the balcony.

With these planters neatly covering up the blue sheets of metal, we had a slight kick on the balcony which became home to a small outdoor table and chairs (a rattan set from John Lewis to continue the beachy look).

The other corner became carefully coordinated with various pot plants, all neatly arranged to cover as much of our water pipe as possible!

We had a few herbs, more seagrass and a small acer in pastel painted pots or repurposed tin pots which used to be old fire buckets, salvaged from a local antiques place (Reginald Ballum, Worthing). This variety, we found, gave what would have been a pretty standard area of pot plants it’s own character.

And I’m pleased to say, that once it was all done, we spent many an evening sat outside enjoying what space we had…

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