BY MARILYN WILSON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN JULY 11, 2012
The most wonderful thing about buying a new condo is that it will most likely afford fantastic views of the city or skyline. It puts things in a different perspective to see the world from new heights.
Even if you’re in a townhome instead of a condo, you may have the sense that you are no longer responsible for caring for outdoor space. Goodbye to lawn mowing, ciao to raking leaves, sayonara to snow removal. Condo owners find they have more time to enjoy life rather than working all weekend grooming outdoor spaces.
And, on top of that, they can enjoy this relaxation with a view. It’s a fantastic feeling and one of the motivating factors in making the switch to condo living.
But the fact remains that you likely still have the outdoor space. Use it, don’t ignore it. Why be laissez-faire when you can still enhance your condo’s outdoor area with little effort? In a new condo you are paying for every square inch — whether indoor or outdoor — so consider the outside an extension of your living space.
I often encounter people who use their outdoor space for storage, especially in winter. But would you want to look at a season-long mess in your living room? Don’t let your terrace become a storage unit or a junk pit — it can be a fantastic space year-round.
Wondering what I mean by this? Sure, you can’t lounge outside with a mojito or enjoy a family barbecue in winter. But think about how you can make your outdoor spaces beautiful from within.
Start the beautifying process at blossomsrosedale.com, the website of one of my favourite Canadian stores, Blossoms. Located in Toronto’s upscale Rosedale, this store offers an array of year-round (as in synthetic, but sophisticated) outdoor privacy walls, privacy trellises and planters that are perfect for enhancing your condo balcony.
Many balconies are covered and therefore offer more potential for year-long development. The purpose of such beautification, which transcends seasonality, is to increase interior sight lines and enhance the sense of voluminous visual space.
Not only should you accessorize outside, you should also use your lighting creatively. Try soft uplighting or twinkle lights, which, in their natural colour, are perfect year-round. Charming and whimsical, these lights will add romance to your terrace, giving you the feeling that you are floating atop the cityscape.
To best enjoy this cityscape, remember to not clutter your balcony, rather, make it so special that you want to use it through all four seasons. The best way to facilitate this is to invest in things that extend the outdoor living season such as outdoor heaters. These are small, attach to walls or ceilings and will keep you sitting and dining outside well into spring and fall. And they are inconspicuous when not in use.
Speaking of hot devices, we all love the barbecue for a summer steak-out, but it does not belong in a view-blocking position off-season. There is nothing worse than seeing not-so-attractive bicycles or barbecues instead of your much sought-after view of the waterfront, city lights or hills beyond.
As for late spring and summertime, this is the easiest time to accessorize outdoor condo spaces. Bring fresh flowers and real plants into the scene in April and May as they will continue to bring visual pleasure until at least the end of September.
Outdoor furniture, which may or may not stay outdoors year-round, is centre stage at this time. A beautiful way to create continuity between outdoor and indoor space is to have pillows made from mould-resistant fabrics and leave them in place regardless of the weather. The Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris matches the umbrellas and cushions of their outdoor furniture with their flowers. This kind of matching can be done to refine the look of your outdoor spaces.
And while you’re deriving inspiration from places, check out another wonderful website find for condo owners at horchow.com. Here you will find an abundance of elegant synthetic planters and fantastic balcony accessories. There are many sophisticated designs to choose from.
For other condo balcony boosters, check out another personal favourite: restorationhardware.com. Here you will find beautiful planters of all shapes and sizes, along with additional preserved plant ideas to make your balcony absolutely gorgeous. Just remember to use your condo sense to expand the enjoyment of all your space.
Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 23 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through dreamproperties.com or follow her on Twitter@marilyn_wilson.
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