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Decorating Small Outdoor Spaces

[hr]With the beginning of spring it is time to make over your outdoor space! Combine the right furniture with a splash of colour and a clever layout, and you will spruce up your terrace or courtyard with ease and create a stylish and inviting outdoor space, writes designer Bettina Deda. [hr]

Source Clever Furniture

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The trick is to find versatile outdoor furniture that can be used for different purposes. Look for furniture that can be used as a standalone piece, or be used in combination with other pieces for a different purpose.

Consider outdoor furniture with slim lines and rather smaller pieces that can easily be moved around if necessary. Small cubes for example – upholstered in a colourful outdoor fabric – can be used as additional seating, footstools, or arranged as a set of four in a larger square, as coffee table. Put a tray on top of the cubes to serve drinks and nibbles. If you go for an outdoor dining table research extension tables to save space when on your own.

A great solution for a small courtyard with a corner area is a built-in bench seat with storage underneath. Use the bench on its own with a small side table or add an outdoor dining table with additional chairs when entertaining.

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Layout Your Space

To avoid costly mistakes by moving furniture that does not work in your new outdoor area plan ahead by laying out your space. Once you have the floor plan and measurements of your terrace or courtyard start thinking about what size of furniture you can fit into this space. Measure pieces you already have and draw them to the same scale as your floor plan. Then cut out the pieces and place them on the floor plan to see if the proportions are right. If you are going to invest in new furniture measure exactly how big it can be so that you can still walk around and have space to move. With a floor plan and exact measurements you can instantly decide on new furniture in the store and don’t have to go back home to measure.

Add A Splash Of Colour

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Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to decorating. It is the design element that can make a space come alive. Colour impacts on our behaviour, well-being and our environment. A different colour on the walls can completely change the atmosphere of your outdoor space. Colour brings individuality to a space and it is one of the most useful tools to master when decorating.

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Visit a hardware store or paint shop to dive into the realm of colour. Pick colours that instantly speak to you. See if you can match your favourite colours to colours you have found in nature or the surroundings of your apartment. When choosing a colour for your home, it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in a space. Colour can stimulate us or evoke feelings of calmness and serenity. Colours remind us of past events in our childhood or great holidays we spent with our family.

[pullQuote]“Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to decorating. It is the design element that can make a space come alive.”[/pullQuote]

Be careful with colours that have a high Light Reflectance Value (LRV) – especially for an outdoor area with a lot of sunlight. The LRV indicates how light or dark a colour will feel on a wall. The LRV is measured on a scale from 0 to 100 per cent, a 50 per cent LRV would correspond to a mid-tone on the grey scale and gives you some orientation when choosing your paint colours. Darker tones with a LRV of 40 per cent and under will absorb more light and make a space appear smaller. If you want to create a cosy atmosphere in your courtyard, go for darker colours. Colours with a LRV higher than 50 per cent will be lighter once on the wall and therefore reflect more light back onto your terrace.

If you are not confident enough to paint a wall, add colour in cushions, plants, accessories and wall art.

How To Set Up A Balcony Garden

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1. Water

Pots dry out very quickly, so make it easy to keep them moist by installing an irrigation system. This will drip water directly onto the root area of the plant when you turn the tap on. For a little extra you can attach an automatic timer so the pots are watered daily before you get out of bed or while you are out.

2. Food

Your potted plants are totally dependent on you. So use a good slow release fertiliser, appropriate for the plant type. Choose one that lasts six months or more. Mark it on your calendar so you know when to feed again.

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3. Planting Medium

Use the best quality potting mix you canafford. It needs to be substantial enough to hold moisture and nutrients for the roots as long as possible. In the ground the roots have a better chance and don’t have the same space and nutrient restrictions as in pots—so give them what they need.

4. Pots and Troughs

Make a plan before you purchase your pots. Consider the width and height they need to be. Stand indoors and look out to find the best spot to place them. Lastly decide on the colour and texture of the pot. This depends on whether you want it to blend in with the surround or stand out as a feature.

5. Plant Choices

Not all plants are suitable for pots. Read the label. If combining several plants in the one pot choose plants with the same water, light and food requirements. Often plant growth is restricted in a pot so choose a slightly larger species than required. Work out how many hours of sun versus shade your balcony receives.

6. The Elements

Balconies can be quite exposed, particularly if they are up high. No matter how careful your plant selection is, the wind causes plant and root damage including stripping the foliage. Spray the leaves with an anti-stress product to help at certain times of the year. Choose pots that are not porous and colours that reflect heat if the sun is beating on them all day.

7. Microclimate

Aspect plays a major roll in plant selection, but each little area will have its own microclimate. Check for radiating heat from brick or metal walls, cool breezes from neighbouring plants, and damp or dry areas too. Or create a new microclimate by grouping some pots under a large fern.

8. Artwork and Accessories

Artwork is great for covering unsightly walls and creating interest. Be careful to choose wisely according to the style you want to achieve. Colourful pillows, throw rugs, candles, bowls and ornaments will add the finishing touches. Be subtle and remember that ‘less is more’.

9. Furniture

Ask yourself what do you want to use this space for? If you are restricted with space, custom-built benches along a wall that tuck under the table can work well. Allow plenty of walking space around the furniture by choosing smaller items.

10. Secateurs and a Cup of Tea

My final tip is my favourite. Reward yourself each day by sitting with a cup of tea to admire your new balcony garden. Keep a pair of secateurs handy (mine sit behind a large pot) to snip anything that is spent or becoming leggy. You’ll find that a couple of snips a day keep the plants compact and neat, and will keep you smiling and relaxed.

Bettina Deda

Bettina DedaBettina Deda is an interior stylist, colour consultant, artist and director of Bettina Deda Colour Design living. Originally from Germany, she moved to Sydney in 2008 and completed several studies including a CERT IV in Colour and Design and a Colour Design Diploma at the International School of Colour and Design (iscd). As a born organizer, she published an ebook to successfully manage DIY home renovations Style to Impress and her second book Downsize in style. In May 2013 she launched her first fabric range for soft furnishings inspired by her hand-painted original artworks.

Downsize-with-styleDownsize with Style is now available for Amazon Kindle and iPad. Bettina has also launched her Downsize With Style podcast show on iTunes. Check it out at: downsize-with-style/id889540184 

 For more information on Bettina and her work, go to

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