Turn your porch, balcony or terrace into a ecological retreat with outdoor furniture, cushions in canvas, garden greens and landscape lighting
Have you considered looking beyond the four walls and sprucing up your outdoor spaces such as the backyards, patio, balcony or terrace? After all, your outdoors is as important as indoors and can be an oasis of green in the concrete jungle most of us live in. Everything from outdoor garden furniture to plants with contemporary planters, to water bodies, stone artefact-like sculptures help create an interesting ambience besides promoting recreation and relaxation for its residents. These spaces can’t be limited to boring plastic chairs–you may want to add a little flair to your yard or patio and do up that space to indulge in pleasures such as a barbecue with close friends or just soak in on the sights and sounds of nature.
Says Malkit Anand, a 50-year-old businessman who recently overhauled all the balconies at his condominium in Gurugram with exclusive furniture: “For the longest time, we had a dysfunctional relationship with mother nature, but after the pandemic, we want to reclaim that connection. One way to do this is to experience the outside inside the home in the form of all open spaces such as terrace and balconies.”
Reclaim the outdoors
There are several options in outdoor furniture–benches and swings, sofas and chairs, coffee tables and side tables. These may come in a variety of materials ranging from wicker, concrete, aluminium, cast iron, and bamboo.
Try to get something comfortable and easy to maintain–your outdoor furniture should be able to sustain heavy exposure to the sun, dry up quickly if exposed to rain, and gather little moisture in winters.
What all is needed to create that perfect outdoor ambience? A lot depends on how much space you have and how deep your pockets run. Beruru, an outdoor lifestyle brand, shares some tips on setting up a premium outdoor ambience. Says Beruru’s spokesperson: “Introduce ceramic and concrete planters that are easy to maintain. Outdoor lighting, lanterns and candles add to the aesthetics. Add gardening decor pieces like sculptures, bird baths, planters and furniture. Pick colours and furniture that complement the rest of your garden and backyard. Select easy to maintain material such as synthetic wicker, wrought iron and concrete that don’t get damaged by heat and rain.” For a small balcony, the furniture would include a set of chairs and a coffee table. While for a larger, more spacious balcony you can even add an outdoor swing. If you have a lawn, you can introduce a few concrete stools and tables or cast-iron benches and chairs and synthetic wicker chairs, coffee tables and sofas.
Wicker is made of natural material like bamboo, rattan and reed, and is the most popular option for outside. Mostly used in the porch, patio or garden in olden days, today it comes in many sophisticated designs that are being used in luxury interiors as well. Says Amruth Sampige, Co-Founder, Dash Square-Ashley Furniture Homestore: “Combining a few pieces of stylish wicker furniture with your existing set-up adds a natural charm to your space. Wicker furniture is also very strong and durable and yet lightweight, and can be easily moved around the house. Unlike in the past, when such furniture came mostly in clunky sizes, today you have some very sleek and refined designs that require minimum space.”
On the flipside, wicker furniture may need re-polishing once in a year or two, or whenever you see the polish looking worn off, or when the furniture looks dull. This depends on how well you have maintained it. With regular cleaning using a soft brush, or a vacuum cleaner, you can maintain wicker furniture in good condition for a long time. Frequent vacuuming using the soft bristle attachment will ensure that dirt doesn’t get embedded in the crevices. However, any trace of moisture staying for long can cause mould to develop.
Other options for outdoors include wrought iron and cast iron, which make one’s outdoor setting look classy and sturdy. Then there is aluminium which is relatively cheap and sustainable. Many homes use a combination of aluminium and wrought and cast iron-based products as they add to each other’s aesthetic, producing an extremely raw look while adding depth and character to the space.
Then there are waterproof options. Take the case of Ashok Basoya, Founder, Ottimo, a company which represents Italian luxury brand CPRN Homood, which has developed a new technology that has waterproof qualities ranging throughout their outdoor collection. Being used by hotels, resorts and restaurants all around the world, CPRN has expanded its outdoor range now, to include sofas, chairs, tables, decor accessories and much more.
There is no price range. Says Basoya: “There are various DIY settings that look absolutely amazing and cost almost nothing. It really depends on how much you want to invest and what aesthetic you are trying to achieve. You have our ideal setting for terrace and outdoor furniture, use that as your guide. A perfect set includes a centre table with at least 4-6 chairs, a standalone swing facilitating a cosy spot for coffee or reading and maybe even an outdoor bar. Do not worry if your set is not the same colour. Different hues can be used to make the space livelier. Just make sure that you are sure about what base material you want.”
Get some greens
We’ve all seen a failed balcony garden; outdated pots and drooping plants that just don’t go together. The secret to a successful balcony garden is to choose plants that will not only survive but thrive. The trick to getting your balcony looking lush and green is understanding the conditions of your space and working out what plants will suit the environment. The main obstacles you will face are wind, rainfall and light levels (direct sun or no direct sun).
Select pots and planters that reflect your interior decor or colour palette. After all, your outdoor area is just as important as your living room and dining areas.
If your balcony is as comfortable and appealing as your living spaces, you are more than likely to want to venture outdoors. Different sizes, colours, shapes and materials such as terracotta, brass finished metal, aluminium pots, ceramic or jute planters are trending in pots.
Here are a few ideas for pots and planters one can invest in. Says the Beruru spokesperson: “Terracotta and ceramic–a number of different clay-based materials are used for planters. The term terracotta (or “baked earth” in Italian) generally refers to an unglazed, somewhat porous ceramic made from clay. These are the familiar reddish-brown clay pots that are very popular as planting containers. Find inspiration in curating a decor space that you love with these terracotta pots.
Ceramic containers are also a great option for pots. They tend to be made of denser, less porous earthen materials, and are always glazed, both inside and outside. Metal planters are minimalistic yet stylish. These planters work perfectly in including lively greens in your urban setting. The brass finished tone lends a regal feel to planters. Jute planters with their woven texture, bring home a relaxed, casual and chic vibe. Also available in different colours at times, they are all one needs to add a trendy accessory for updating your room/ indoor garden. These planters range depending upon the size, material etc.”
Lastly, pay a great deal of attention to lighting when doing up your outdoors–it will make or break your setting. Landscape lighting can be used for decorative purposes, to emphasise natural features or landscaping elements. It highlights and adds drama to interesting landscapes or architectural features and helps create comfortable and communal surroundings, such as a defined seating or entertainment area.
One should aim for a balance of security and aesthetics. A good beginning is to simply walk around your home at night with a flashlight. Take note of dark areas that should be lit for safety and landscape, or garden areas that could be lit for additional interest or beauty. Just like indoor lighting, think about the types of light–ambient (general lighting), task (helps you perform specific tasks, such as preparing and cooking food), and accent (to highlight and add drama to architectural or landscape features).
Finally, your outdoor spaces make your indoors complete and allow some fresh air and sunlight in the room. Says Noida-based Minal Shah, “We are blessed to have a balcony in every room of our house. It is not only good for health, but it is also romantic where you can sit with your partner and have a good time having a cup of tea and talking to each other or simply enjoy reading a book.”
Table: Indicative cost of creating an ambience in the open spaces of your home
|Price range (Rs)
|Carry Bird (Chair+Table set & Sofa Set) Carry Basket is a manufacturer of products such as laundry basket, outdoor wicker lamp, outdoor wicker cabinet, pet basket, etc
|Evolve (Stools)offers products such as furniture, sculpture, wall art, etc. The concrete stools offered are prime shaped
|Cast Iron -benches, chairs, tables
|FurniFurniture (Bench) offers cast iron benches that can be easily dismantled and reassembled. These products are easily portable to lift and shift.
|Generic (Chair + Table set). The brand offers a table chair set, the table is foldable. It has a rich black powder-coated wrought iron frame and an extremely comfy and elegant wooden seat.
|Luxox, manufacturer and retailer of a comprehensive range of decorative furniture. The outdoor swings offered by the brand claim to be durable and high quality.
|Ikea, a worldwide retailer of products and solutions for home. The coffee tables and side tables offered by the brand have a table top in metal mesh that allows water to pass through.
|Pots and Planters
|Ikea. The pots & planters offered by the brand are suitable for both outdoor and indoor use and are frost-resistant.
|Art & Abode (Chair table set), an online home decor website. The furniture sets offered by the brand are made with cast aluminium. The products are Ideal for outdoor settings like garden, patio, deck, balcony, corridor, pool-side, lounge, restaurants, cafes, and parks.
|The Stone Studio offers products such as artefacts, statues, and sculptures. The sculptures offered by the brand are mostly made up of sand stone.
|Order Happiness (Water Fountain): deals in furniture and décor products. The water fountain offered by the brand claims to bring calm and serenity to the surroundings.
|Knotty Rope. The brand offers products of décor, lightning and home furnishings. The artworks offered by the brand are made out of contrasting coloured thread weaved on hoops.
|Ikea. The outdoor lighting products offered by the brand emit a soothing flickering light that can be used as decorative lighting both indoors and outdoors.
|H Hy-tec. Offers an extensive range of home and kitchen products. The barbeque devices offered by the brand are made up of materials such as cast iron and powder coated finish.
Credit: TechSci Research