Decorating isn’t just about making things look nice or making things practical. It’s also about creating unconscious impressions that influence the way that people ‘feel’ space. In an urban setting, there are few places where this is less important than in the garden or on a balcony. These are commonly small spaces that are, ironically, intended to give a feeling of expanse. Sometimes, they need your helping hand.
Thankfully the human mind is simple and easily tricked! Thus, it is possible to make your outdoor space feel bigger without actually creating an extension. Mostly, it’s a case of using perception tricks so that when you and your friends are relaxing in your outdoor space, you ‘sense’ that it is bigger than it indeed is, so long as you don’t find them checking with a measuring tape!
It starts with your balcony. You use mirrors indoors to make spaces look more prominent, so why not do so outdoors, too? Find a rustic looking mirror to hang on the wall of your balcony, and you will make space brighter, as well as giving the impression that it extends further into the wall. ‘See-through’ furniture such as Perspex or wicker seating will also keep the light moving around the balcony. And of course, you can add natural light by putting extra light sources outside. Even adding a second bulb can help to eliminate shadows so that you see the full length of the balcony.
There are garden-type touches you can add to your balcony to increase the sense of outdoorsiness—for example, light-colored decking or artificial grass on the floor. And you can add shelves high up and put plants on them to lead the eye upwards and make use of all that cubic space, not just what’s at eye-level.
And then there’s your garden. A garden is a wild space where you can get away with what you like, as long as you do it with flair! Flower snobs aside, nature always looks great. So try placing tall plants and trees in the corner of your garden, to accentuate the parameters.
You can also use color to spread the feeling of space. On the one hand, you can utilize pale-colored paint on the walls or fences since color theory teaches us that shades like this seem to ‘recede’ – dragging the walls away from the garden with them! On the other hand, painting your garden furniture so that it matches its surroundings (i.e., green) will make it seem like it takes up less space. Keep that furniture a few inches from the wall, since keeping your chairs and tables squashed up against the walls makes it look cramped. Bizarre, how the mind works!
Finally, consider using perspective tricks to create the illusion of grandeur. Large plants and objects in the foreground and smaller ones in the background will make it seem like there’s a considerable gap between them.
For more hints and tips on how to decorate your outdoor spaces to make them look bigger, try this new visual guide from OnStride.