How decked out is your balcony or outdoor space right now? If it houses sparse décor, then you’re probably missing out on a potential lounging corner for the upcoming festive season. Imagine a place for your family and friends to fire up the grill and enjoy the pleasant weather, surrounded by greenery, where they can de-stress for a few hours every day. With the temperatures dropping, now's the perfect time to invest in your own little getaway at home. We took down styling tips and plant care advice from experts, to help you take hosting to the next level.
How do I decorate my outdoor space?
If you have an existing garden on the terrace or balcony, then all it needs is a bit of furnishing. Picture the perfect colour palette for this space, before you shop for decor, says Nayab Arsalan, an interior stylist and founder of Dubai-based design studio, Nayab Interiors.
"Start by looking up some sort of inspiration for your outdoor space - Pinterest and Instagram are great sources. Decide on certain colours you want to stick with, then buy things accordingly. Oftentimes, when we pick up items solely based on our likes and dislikes, the end result isn't so cohesive," said Arsalan.
For those working with a blank slate - concrete tiles, walls and railings - a touch of greenery can really help enliven your social corner. Horticulturist Harish Hebbale with Souq Garden, a plant retailer and landscaping service provider in the UAE, says clients will usually mix and match artificial and natural plants in their balconies.
"Firstly, consider if you want to go with real or artificial greenery. Most people prefer a synthetic turf in the balcony, but if you want authentic grass, then make sure your outdoor space has a water point or a tap and a drainage system," advised Hebbale.
What plants are the best for the winter season?
Now, if you're thinking of adding a few planters, there are species that thrive in these cooler months. Usually, a horticulturist would assess the site to gauge the amount of sunlight the place receives, to advise on the best choices.
"An east-facing balcony receives the most sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon, for instance. So, you have to select your plants carefully," said Hebbale, who has 15 years of experience in the industry.
Fragrant, flowering species are popular options in the winter, like jasmine climbers and the night-blooming night queen. The pink-flowered bougainvillea is the best plant for all-year-round blooms in the region, along with jatropha, thevetia and nerium.
Another plant palette that's become trendy for the winters, is a desert landscape - composed of hardy grey-green plants that need little water. Hebbale lists cactus, agave, aloe vera and pencil cactus for achieving that monochromatic look.
We’ve compiled a list of items from both experts that'll ensure a more welcoming, cosier outdoors, below. Play around with our Amazon picks – throw in a couple of weather-resistant chairs, lights, planters and a rug, and you have a stylish terrace or garden. To have your items delivered to you as soon as possible, become a Prime member today!
1. Get a faux grass carpet
Egardenkart Artificial Grass Carpet 36mm (2m x 5m)
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty.
ECVV Artificial Grass Carpet (200cm x 500cm, Green)
If the green thumb gene missed you, Arsalan and Hebbale say a faux turf can still add a splash of greenery to your outdoor space. Most balconies and terraces have tiled flooring that can quickly collect sand and dust. An artificial grass carpet doesn't require looking after and cuts down the number of times you have to deep-clean your outdoors.
Hebbale strongly recommends opting for a turf that has at least a five-year warranty, to get the most use out of your floor covering. Its quality is often measured by how resistant the colour is to the sun, and its softness. Make sure the base has drainage holes for easy hosing down, too.
2. Add a patio furniture set
YATAI Acacia Wood Bistro Set
Esterno Living Malibu Grey 3-Seater Set
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh226.46 for 12 months with select banks.
Kidkraft Octagon Outdoor Table, Stools and Umbrella Set
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh83.25 for 12 months with select banks.
Buying furniture for the outdoors – where it will be vulnerable to rain, wind and ultraviolet rays – can be a little daunting. You don’t want anything bulky to save space nor do you want material that weathers after one winter shower, says Arsalan. "As a designer, I would not recommend hanging or suspended seaters, because they're difficult to style. Look for durable and comfortable pieces, ones you will actually enjoy sitting in," she added.
Assess the type of patio set that will fit your outdoor space - will it be an L-shaped lounge set, a modest balcony set or a terrace set with individual chairs? You can even opt for an outdoor seating area for your little ones. Whatever the choice of outdoor furniture, though, it needs covering for extra protection.
3. Invest in outdoor furniture covers
Amazon Basics Griffen 3-Seater Sofa Furniture Cover
Startwo Patio Furniture Covers, 4-Piece
CKClub Patio Furniture Set Cover (60" x 30")
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a 30-day refund guarantee.
Follow up your patio set purchase with a matching waterproof and UV-resistant cover. Arsalan said: "I recommend buying furniture covers to prolong the life of your set, especially for when summer rolls around and the material becomes more susceptible to the hot weather."
Look for a heavy-duty polyester covering that can easily engulf all the pieces in your set, with drawstrings and buckles at the bottom for windy days. Make sure to measure your entire set, before placing the order.
4. Decorate with a statement rug and throws
Black and White Striped Area Rug (3 x 5 ft)
Demetex Outdoor Pillow Covers, Beige (Set of 4)
Vigvog Cotton Throw Pillow Covers (Set of 4)
Americanflat Cotton Throw Blanket for Couch
On days that call for lounging on the floor with friends, you can use an outdoor rug. None of that abrasive straw material, however, opt for a soft yet durable material, preferably cotton. It can go right in the washing machine, if handwashing is troublesome, and a bit of weight will help on windy days.
Arsalan also suggests cosying up your patio furniture, with throws and weather-resistant cushions. "Toss a blanket on the chair for texture; it can even come in handy on chilly nights. Continue to accent with cushions, which I believe are the most underrated pieces of decor, but ensure their covers can withstand the outdoor elements," she advised.
5. Add new planters and consider starting a kitchen garden
D'vine Dev Terracotta Pots for Plants, Set of 3
Finehous Mid-Century Cement Planter Pot, Medium
Survival Garden Seeds Home Garden Collection Vegetable and Herb Seed Vault, Mix of 30
Your freshly adopted baby plants will need a breathable, well-draining home. Hebbale says that while inexpensive options like plastic planters exist, his suggestion will always be the eco-friendly terracotta. These clay planters can stay with you for up to five years. For tree and shrub species, house your plumeria, neem, hibiscus and almond tree in larger, statement pots.
Low temperatures also mean that you could potentially grow your own produce starting today. "If you want a kitchen garden, this is the perfect time (winter) to start one - you can plant tomatoes, chilies and eggplants now, and harvest them in four to five months," said Hebbale.
6. Use your space vertically, with plant stands
Rubik Plant Stand, 5 Tier
Ufine Freestanding 3-Tier Ladder Shelf
Plant stands can house most of your smaller outdoor plants, and it’s the best way to tidy up a space. Arsalan said: "If you're working with a balcony, think vertically to maximise space". With plant stands, you can get creative with different heights. Greens that need the most sunshine can go on the topmost tier, and the remaining tiers can be dedicated to eclectic pieces.
7. Light it up with LED strings and lanterns
TIJNN Solar Deck Lights (6-Pack)
Woolmug Solar Lanterns Outdoor Waterproof Hanging Lights (2-Pack)
Nighttime lighting is a fantastic way to switch things up and elevate the space. Consider solar deck lights powered by the sun; these hang on wall edges and rails. Leave them out during the day for four to five hours and watch them automatically turn on with the sunset. "You could also fix wall lanterns in each corner of the space you're working with," suggested Arsalan.
8. Shade yourself and your plants
D&D Sun Shade Sail
HJB VISSO Sun Shade Sail
What about a sunshade for yourself and your plants? Sun sails are so versatile that they even work well in balconies. The fabric is usually made of high-density polyethylene for sun protection, which still lets in plenty of light and breeze to filter through. It shields you from harmful UV rays and is windproof.
Sun shades can be mounted at an angle on rainy days, so imagine sitting back and enjoying the weather with a cuppa. The sails come with D-shaped rings to peg the fabric down on all four corners.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.