5 Decorating Ideas for Small Balconies

For apartments in Singapore, the balcony may be the only outdoor place where we can enjoy some fresh natural air and relax under the sun. Our current apartment does not have a balcony, so I don’t get a chance to ‘enjoy’ it.

The good news is – our new apartment at Bartley Residences has not only one, but two balconies! The larger balcony is at the living hall overlooking the lap pool and garden. The smaller balcony is at the master bedroom – which at this point, I still can’t gauge what is the view from there. Both balconies have different facings.

Floor Plan
Our floor plan at Bartley Residences

Many people told me that balconies are hard to maintain and clean. I certainly agree to that due to the excessive amount of dusts in Singapore. But a balcony does add a distinctive look to a home, and that’s why I feel that it’s worth the efforts to clean and decorate it.

Anyway, both balconies are small. So, I’ve been searching for decorating ideas for small balconies, and these are some ideas that I picked from Pinterest that I really like.

5 Decorating Ideas for Small Balconies

1. A cozy corner

I want to be able to have a cup of coffee and read a book in real comfort. So making a cozy corner in my balcony is a fantastic idea. I really love this design – the rattan chairs and flower pictures on the wall.

A big family cushioned seat like this is so beautiful! I like the potted plants on the wall too.

2. A small garden

I think the size of our living hall balcony is similar to this picture. It may not be large enough to quench my craving for a garden, but I think I can maximize the small space to create a mini garden of all seasons.

Container gardening is a versatile choice because they are mobile (easy to move around) and come in numerous shapes, sizes and colours. I can mix and match them to suit any plant and create an eye-catching look. Some containers do not take up floor space because they are designed for hanging from the ceiling or attaching to the balcony railing.

3. A patio with artificial grass carpet

I love green! Away from those boring tiles, I really like the idea of artificial grass balcony. It makes my balcony looks lovely, green and trendy.

A combination of wood-decking and artificial turf putting green creates our family’s favourite game in one balcony.

4. A water fountain

This is more of V’s idea. He wants to put a water fountain at the balcony for feng shui purposes. To me, I like the sensory and peaceful feelings from the flowing water.

5. A hanging chair

I have a weakness for hanging chairs! Breathtaking designs and styles available these days are a perfect boost for balcony decor.

I so love to curl up in this chair!

In my favourite white + pink!

Fun and colourful! Great for kids.

(All images via Pinterest)

So what’s your favourite balcony décor? I love to hear from you too!

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Learning Photography

A year ago, I told myself that I want to learn photography. I’ve been shooting with my point-and-shoot camera all these years, and I thought it’s time to upgrade my gears and photography skills. It’s never too late to learn as long as we have the means and opportunity to do so. I’m sure you’ll agree.

I checked out the Canon and Nikon DSLRs, but unfortunately, they are too heavy and bulky for my liking. Then, I read about the micro 4/3 cameras that are extremely popular in the photography forum. They are not only smaller and lighter than most DSLRs in the market, but they also have DSLR-like features.

This sounds like what I really want. So I went to check out the Olympus OMD E-M5, and I fell in love with it instantly. I like its classic design and timeless good looks. When I held it in my hands, the overall feel of the camera was solid, sturdy and assuring. It didn’t feel heavy at all.

The sales assistant told me that the OMD E-M5 was one of their best-selling models, and he highly recommended it. This camera has the fastest autofocus, built-in body Image Stabilization feature, full weather sealing (splash and dust proof) and a built-in electronic viewfinder.

I was particularly impressed with its tilting touch screen. I can easily flip it out for some extra-low or extra-high shots without having to lie on the ground or climb up the chairs. I can also adjust all the camera settings – ISO, white balance, exposure, etc using the touch screen. It was ultra cool!

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My Olympus OMD E-M5 with 25mm f1.4 prime lens

So I happily purchased the OMD E-M5, along with a dry cabinet and camera bag.

This is my first camera bag from Olympus. I absolutely loved the colour. It’s small and ladylike, but it’s very functional with enough space for a camera body, 2 lenses, spare battery and some small accessories.

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My camera bag from Olympus

The kit lens (12-50mm) gives nice wide shots, but it doesn’t give the level of sharpness that I want. It’s also quite long, so it doesn’t fit into a small camera pouch. I can only carry it around in my camera bag.

And the problem here is – I also need to carry my handbag when I go out. Therefore, I’ve to carry my handbag on my left shoulder, and my camera bag on my right shoulder. That makes me immensely uncomfortable and unsightly. Can you relate?

Okay, you may think that the easiest way out is to get the Hubby to carry the camera bag for me. Yes, if he’s around, I’ll conveniently shove one of the bags onto his shoulder. But still, I need to find a better solution than that.

Recently, I purchased a prime lens that I absolutely love! It’s the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4. I took this photo the first day I got this lens. What a difference I noticed right away in my picture.

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The garden in our apartment is quite dark at night, and that provided me the perfect setting to test its low light ability.

I was completely amazed to get these pictures with no flash at all! While it’s not cheap (cost around $600 when I purchased online), its low-light shooting abilities are amazing.

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This lens is also perfect for indoor shooting. It’s capable of taking clear portraits (even under low-light condition) with the background mildly defocused.

In addition, autofocus is very fast, although care needs to be taken to ensure accurate focusing with a wide aperture. The manual focus ring makes fine adjustments easy to make. It’s quite light too!

Since then, my 25mm f1.4 has been consistently mounted on my OMD E-M5, and used as a general all-purpose lens. I’m VERY happy with it! The fact that it’s lighter and shorter, I can also put it in a smaller camera pouch. That pouch can easily fits into my tote bag. And that means I can finally step out of my house in just ONE BAG!

Few days ago, I bought my second prime lens. It’s the Olympus 45mm f1.8. Now who doesn’t want those sharp photos of your subject with the cool blurry background? This lens is the answer for that. It’s my perfect portrait lens!

Shooting with the 45mm is an absolute pleasure. Its autofocus is extremely swift. I get used to shooting with a longer focal length pretty easily too. I just need to step further away from the subject.

The 45mm f1.8 is bought locally at a price tag of $400, and it has certainly helped me to enjoy photography even more (and the results I’m getting!).

First picture taken with the 45mm f1.8. Focus is on the rightmost lens, the two lens on the left and background are nicely defocused.

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The next thing on my shopping list is a camera bag that looks like a handbag. Something stylish that is unlike a regular camera bag. Something that looks more like a handbag but with the camera hidden inside (with padding to protect it too). Yes, that’s what I want. If you’ve any recommendations, please leave me a comment.

Now, what’s your favourite lens? I love to hear from you too!

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My Olympus OMD E-M5 with 45mm f1.8 lens
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My lenses

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Bartley Residences Work-in-Progress: Oct 2014

This was originally intended to be a monthly update on this blog, but turns out to be a quarterly update now due to lack of time. Nonetheless, I’m still committed to update it as often as I can. To refresh your memory, you can check out my last update in July HERE.

Judging from the payment status, this project is at least 50% into its completion now. And this is 2 years and 7 months later after we signed the Option to Purchase. Argh, what a long wait!

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Gorgeous, isn’t it?

The major progresses that I’ve seen now include: 1) the blocks facing Bartley Road are all built to their highest floors now and 2) the blocks facing the main entrance at Lorong How Sun are painted white with their green nets all removed.

Oct1
Block 7 facing Bartley Road
Oct7
Blocks facing Lorong How Sun

Some pictures taken with my rarely-used 40-150mm zoom lens:

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The balcony at the living hall
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The balcony at the master bedroom

The condo facilities are still not built at this point. In this picture, I saw a staircase leading to the side gate of the MRT station. The biggest selling point of this project is its walking distance to Bartley MRT. But for us, it’s mainly the walking distance to Edison’s school.

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I’m so looking forward to the day when I can walk across the road to send him to school. That’s all for Oct update now. Happy Deepavali to all the Indians celebrating this holiday, and a Happy Holiday for the rest of us.

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