Balcony Makeover

Giving a balcony a make-over within the constraints of an apartment's body corporate gives Brendan an extra challenge.

Jacky and Roger Barker's unit is big and a great size for entertaining, however, it's covered with very ugly, boring brown tiles. Most of the space is taken up by the couple's huge, heavy, brown outdoor table and two cumbersome benches – which only adds to that feeling of claustrophobia that starts with the colour brown. The balcony is ripe for a make-over but to obey the body corporate, no permanent changes can be made to the balcony's appearance.

Things to consider

  • You may need council approval for your proposed work, or if you live in an apartment block governed by a body corporate as in our story, you'll need their approval.
  • Start by going to the body corporate and find out exactly what you can and cannot do. Otherwise you could end up spending twice as much undoing and redoing the work.
  • Have drawings of your proposal, and get approval from your neighbours.
  • Try to have your proposed plans portable i.e., nothing fixed forever.
  • Get your plan in early as most body corporates only meet once a month, and believe us, there are no exceptions!
  • Jacky and Roger have a baby girl so the end result must be child-friendly and safe. And with a newborn they don't have time for any fussy gardening!

With some careful planning, Brendan decides to divide the area into three sections: the BBQ area, a garden area, and the entertaining area.

With their plans approved by the body corporate, owners Jacky and Roger Barker were thrilled to let Brendan take over. The priority problem was the brown floor tiles and walls, and with the body corporate not allowing any fixtures, Brendan's solution was portable decking. He built them off-site to minimise noise and disruption for the neighbours, using recycled timber for a beautiful weathered look.

Things to consider

  • Timber decking will be exposed to the elements so they need to be sanded back and treated to help preserve it.
  • When laying decking onto a ground surface, you need to attach some type of rubber foot or spacer to ensure free drainage underneath the deck. Otherwise the timber joists will sit in water and rot.
  • Finding cheap timber is a matter of doing some legwork. Brendan rang a fencing contractor out of the Yellow Pages who told Brendan if he wanted to pick up the timber himself he could have it for nothing.
  • Bamboo screens are a great way to cover unsightly walls or views. In this case the body corporate allowed the screens to be attached to the brick wall but not in the form of a fixed shade canopy over the table.
  • For colour and movement, planter boxes are a great way to cover brickwork and add greenery to a space. In this case they also act as a backrest for guests at the table. Ensure you drill holes in the metal pot inserts for proper drainage.
  • Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of introducing colour into a garden. In this case we are using a lime wash and a fine stone paint ('pumpernickel' and 'old stone wall') from the Porters range for the pots, daybed and planter box. If using the Stone Paint (fine) you'll need a sealer as this paint is acrylic and the water won't be able to flow freely. If you use the Lime Wash paint, you won't need a sealer, as this paint is porous and allows the water to move freely through the paint.
  • Instead of high maintenance flowering plants consider coloured foliage in brightly painted pots.
  • Stepping stones and pebbles can fill in the gaps between pots and add colour and great texture.

Equipment and Suppliers

Porters Paints
Ph: 1800 656 664
  • Fine Stone and Lime Wash paints approx. $28

  • Sample pots $7 each

MRD Home
Ph: (03) 9416 4122
  • Orb lampshades, purple and red $49.95 each

Australian Native Landscapes
  • Décor pebbles approx $50 per bag

  • Dimension Stone steps $86 per sq metre

Cotsworld Furniture Collection
Freecall 1800 677 047
  • Kingsley Armchairs $698 each

J & P Dudley's Specialised Engineering Services
Ph/Fax: (02) 9898 5513
  • Planter Boxes – Planterbox with galvanised box inside $110 per box

  • Custom made furniture – Frames for the table/bench and teak slates for the daybed/table and bench = $2,868.90

SoftLine Manchester
T/A Sheets Plus
406 Oxford Street
Bondi Junction NSW 2025
Ph: (02) 9387 8585
  • cushions large $59 ea, small $39 ea

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