How to transform your small open-air spaces into individual havens

  • 28.January 2011
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So you have just bought a new apartment in Malta and whilst it’s got the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, it does not actually boast of grand open-air space. In fact that small back terrace seems rather cramped, bare and miserable. You’re luckier than your neighbour, next floor up, whose only open-air access is a minimalist balcony, just one-foot deep. So you feel blessed in that respect. But still, all mags out there show luxurious props, rather grandiose ones at that – where on earth will they fit with what you’ve settled for?

First things first – remember that even the smallest of outdoor spaces can become personalised and unique if you just put in the right ingredients. Let’s tick off some possible to-do things on the list…..

– It’s white, it’s boring. Change that wall colour – go for crazy orange, brilliant turquoise, whimsical pink – at least on one of the walls. Colour will give the space character, so think carefully about how you want to stage it up.

– Cover the floor. You don’t have to be lumped with what the contractor left on it – you can re-tile; you can cover with artificial turf; you can paint over in green roof compound; you can actually go in for a more detailed project.   Get hold of as many unwanted tiles from family and friends – the more colours thrown in, the better; or just opt to choose specific colours that match your one-colour statement wall. Break the tiles into medium-sized shreds, and embark on creating crazy paving.

– Get hold of old ceramic masks, wall plaques, stone sculptures and place them on walls, put them in corners. Even good old-fashioned garden gnomes can do the trick.

– Try hanging pots and plants; try creepers on bare walls. And to avoid disappointment go for the sturdy varieties. But before you do, check if the terrace is north or south oriented. That will make all the difference to the kind of growth you get. Ask a reliable garden centre for advice. The obvious choice of arrangement would be to fit window-box-styled pots that overhand balconies or windows as these will not interfere with your already limited ambulating space.

– If you’re not a green finger type, cacti or succulents just need a dash of water every so often and one smile a day to thrive. You can buy cheaper varieties of ceramic pots from bargain stores or car-boot sales. Some pot varieties to look out for are those created to be fitted in corners or hang on walls pretty much like wall plaques.

– No room for garden seating? Think foldable chairs or deck-chair think stackable since all chairs can cuddle up happily in a corner, think wall-to-wall bench. All can be jazzed up with cushions.

– Don’t over-do things – if you really need to hang out the washing in the same space, try to go for retractable clothes-lines or clothes horses of the vertical kind that stand in a corner.

– Use a traditional ‘hasira’ or reed curtain to privatise your space from your neighbour’s prying eyes. It’s also a good idea to use to screen off the sun if you get it. The ‘hasira’ is convenient in that it rolls up and out of the way once you don’t need it. Alternately go for a plushier option – the striped awning – that will give your open space a Parisian character especially if you opt for pink/white stripes.

– Bird-cages always make spaces seem that much more romantic, especially if they’re accompanied by birdsong. Choose a really special bird-cage and a chirpy fellow to add some jive. However, be warned – don’t invest in a bird as a pet if you don’t have the kind of space to keep its cage also indoors once the elements become too hot or cold for the bird to endure.

– Other sweet pets to keep in a small outdoor space are turtles or tortoises. You can keep them happy with the provision of a tiny pool of water to waddle in and the occasional burst of sunshine.

This article was written by Marika Azzopardi on behalf of RE/MAX Malta, a leading real estate agent in Malta. If you are looking for a property in Malta or abroad you may contact the Malta real estate agents for professional advise on investing in Malta property.

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