One of the best things about summer is enjoying al fresco dinners on your balcony on sweltering evenings while admiring the city lights. However, you don’t have to retreat indoors just because summer has come to an end. A good balcony can be so much more than just a summer-time hangout. Here are 15 ways to use your balcony all fall and winter.
Surround Your Balcony Space With Coniferous Trees
If you have a say in what happens in the garden, consider planting coniferous trees (think pine, spruce or fir) strategically around your balcony space. Coniferous trees will protect your balcony from the wind and help keep it a little warmer during the cooler months – while also providing cooling shade in summer. Because they’re coniferous, you won’t have to spend all fall raking leaves.
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Enclose Your Balcony
Enclosing your balcony helps keep the elements out and warmth in. Outdoor curtains, blinds or a balcony privacy screen are quick to install and are cost effective. However, they may not be able to withstand driving rain or snow. Sliding glass doors will allow you to enjoy the view without being exposed to the cold.
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Get a Chiminea
Chimineas – AKA outdoor fireplaces – are great options for warmth when you want to spend time outside during cold weather. For a balcony, a smaller, more portable model is likely a better choice because chimineas typically require quite a bit of space around them to not be a fire hazard. Before you get a fire pit or chiminea, though, check that your building’s owners and local legislation will allow it.
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Bring Out a Space Heater
If you’re not allowed to have a chiminea on your balcony or it wouldn’t be practical, a good old space heater can help keep ensure coziness. Be sure not to place it close to fabrics or anything else that can catch fire and to take it back inside when you retire for the night. Also remember that misusing extension cords is one of the mistakes to avoid to keep your home safe.
Get an Outdoor Heat Lamp
Another way to heat a balcony without too much hassle is to get an outdoor heat lamp. While the type that stands on the floor can take up quite a bit of space, wall-mounted or hanging heat lamps are great small balcony ideas. Outdoor heat lamps have the added benefit of providing some nice light.
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Add String Lights and Lanterns
The endless days of summer mean that you can hang out on the balcony well into the evening without having to think about lighting. In fall and winter, though, lighting becomes one of the most important things to consider for your balcony. Soft light creates a cozy atmosphere, so think about tasteful ways to decorate with string lights and lanterns instead of harsh overhead lights.
Add Comfortable Balcony Furniture
Those cast iron chairs may be fine in summer, but when temperatures drop, you want balcony furniture that you can sink into. Unless you want to carry your furniture back in every time you use the balcony, invest in patio furniture that’s specifically made to withstand the elements but that includes cushions. Include at least one big piece where you can snuggle under a comforter.
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Add Lots of Cushions
One of the easiest ways to create a sense of warmth, comfort and coziness on your balcony is to add lots of cushions. Place some smaller ones on the furniture, but also have some big ones that you can place strategically on the floor to provide enough seating for everyone.
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Hang a Hammock
The perfect way to soak up the fall and winter sun is to laze in a hammock. There are plenty of outdoor and indoor hammock options to choose from. Most nylon hammocks can be left outside, but a woven-fabric hammock is much cozier. If you can, install some hooks so that you can hang your hammock quickly and without fuss, and take it down just as quickly when you go inside.
Use Area Rugs
Decorating with area rugs isn’t just for inside: they’re the perfect solution for chilly balcony floors. Get some old carpets that fit onto your balcony and roll them out when you want to hang out. At the end of the evening, simply roll them up again and cover them in a tarp or other waterproof material to keep them dry.
Keep Throws and Blankets Handy
When you know you’ll be hanging out on your balcony, keep a good supply of throws and blankets handy so that you don’t have the strip the beds to keep everyone warm. It’s a good idea to have a variety of thicknesses – from lightweight throws to thick comforters – on hand because temperatures can be rather fickle in fall and winter.
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Add Winter Plants
Many plants that thrive on balconies in summer won’t survive harsh winter weather. However, there are some winter plants, depending on where you live, that you won’t have to bring in when temperatures start dropping. Some – like winter heather, winter jasmine and winter cyclamen – will even flower in winter and add splashes of colour to your balcony. If you don’t have lots of space for a balcony garden, consider hanging well-insulated containers from the wall or placing them on a stepladder.
Related: How to Create a DIY Balcony Herb Garden (and Other Balcony Gardening Ideas)
Build a Terrarium or Greenhouse
If your balcony is the only real space you have for growing less hardy plants like herbs and veggies, you might want to consider if you can build a terrarium or greenhouse. This way, your plants will get enough warmth from the fall and winter sun without being exposed to the harsh elements.
Related: 7 Smart Ways to Make the Most of Your Backyard Space in the Winter
Have Storage Handy
It can be a pain to have to carry all the cushions and blankets back in after an entertaining night on the balcony. Make things easier by keeping a waterproof storage box on your balcony for easy storage. Depending on its size, the box can even double as a piece of furniture.
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Maintain the Space
You’ll enjoy your fall and winter balcony much more if you keep it clean and well maintained. Don’t allow snow and ice to build up, since this can damage your outdoor furniture, your plants and the balcony structure itself. Regularly scrape the ice off the railings and other surfaces, and scoop up snowdrifts. By keeping your balcony relatively dry, there will be much less preparation involved if you want to use the space.
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