Bartley Residences: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 3 Final)

Finally, fibre broadband has been installed after a long 3 weeks’ of waiting, and I can resume my regular blogging. =)

Today, I’m going to share my final post on balcony decking and decoration, as well as how I maintain it. If you missed my earlier posts on this topic, you can read them here: Part 1 on balcony reno and décor ideas, and Part 2 on design and decking considerations.

We used wood-plastic composites (commonly known as WPCs) which are composite materials made of wood and thermoplastic. The main advantage of WPCs is that they do not corrode and are highly resistant to rot and decay. It does not have the natural weakness of solid timber (i.e. warping, splitting and cracks), making it a durable product that is sure to last.

Wood decking

To ensure that the decking lasts a long time, it is important to have a good foundation underneath them. Brackets are being laid as the base profile, followed by the WPCs. The gaps between the WPCs are important for ventilation so that humidity and water are able to flow out. In our hot climate, it also provides space for thermal expansion of the WPCs without causing any distortion to the decking.

Artificial turf

For the artificial turf, an AirDrain System consisting of black plastic pockets is being installed as the base to provide rapid water drainage to prevent surface ponding. Beneath the artificial turf, there is a layer of high quality fibres that acts as a backing. The artificial turf is then glued onto a net on top of the black plastic pockets.

The installation of WPCs and artificial turf in my two balconies took one day to complete. The installers from Absolut Outdoors are punctual at work, experienced and pro-active in offering us suggestions and tips in maintaining our balcony decking. Truly thankful to these guys for their great job! 🙂

Here are some pictures of my two balconies:

Main Balcony

Edison is truly delighted with this IKEA tent that I set-up for him
My coffee corner

designing the perfect balcony

Master Room Balcony

Balcony deckingI laid two pieces of artificial turf as the “fringe” (detachable) for styling purpose. I hang my laundries here too because it has direct sunlight.
A close-up view of the WPCs

My colleagues came to visit me yesterday and they were so kind to buy me these beautiful orchids for my planter boxes. The size of the pots fit my planter boxes perfectly! I love how my balcony is full of real flowers!

Planter boxes

The planter boxes that I got from Absolut Outdoors come with a water level indicator, so it’s easy for me to check when my plants need water.

Maintenance of the balconies is pretty easy for me. For the WPC, I just sweep and mop as usual. For the artificial turf, I vacuum it using a handheld vacuum cleaner (took less than 10 mins) and mop as usual.

I’m loving my outdoor spaces so much now. On Sunday mornings, we have breakfast at our balcony while we enjoy the morning sun and breeze, plus a beautiful pool view. In the evening, I roll out my yoga mat to do some stretching exercise. Sometimes, I do my work at the balcony while Edison is playing out there.

 

Absolut Outdoors
81 Ubi Ave 4, #05-19 UB.One, Singapore 408830
Websites: Official Homepage | Facebook Page | Instagram

 

Read more home renovation posts!

Bartley Residences: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 2)

There is something spectacular about stepping out of your living hall and onto a perfectly decked balcony that brings you comfort, relaxation, attractiveness, and most importantly, value to your home.

The soothing feeling of wood decking and artificial turf under my feet as I relax on my lounge chair and enjoy the pool view is easier than I think now. We’re glad to engage Absolut Outdoors to give our outdoor spaces a facelift.

Step 2: Design and Space Planning

[Read Step 1: Consultation Session] During my second meeting with Absolut Outdoors, they proposed their design based on what we’ve discussed in our first consultation session. Here are the 3D drawings from various perspectives.

Perspective View

3D drawing for balcony

3D drawing for balcony from Absolut Outdoors

We’re going to have an after-work husband-and-wife chillax corner, a kid’s outdoor play area (mini putting green), and a small garden (with hanging plants) in our front balcony with the size of 5m x 2m.

A combination of artificial green turf and wood-decking is very beautiful, so I certainly recommend it. Combining the chillax corner with kid’s play area, this idea is practical and low maintenance too. We love putting live plants to enhance the beauty of our balcony. A beautiful wall with hanging planters instantly brings us the ‘fresh garden vibes’ without wasting our precious floor space.

Balcony Idea 1 with live plants

We’ve chosen wood-plastic composite (WPC) because it’s more durable and requires less maintenance than natural wood. The colour is walnut, and I really like its natural and luxurious hardwood look, feel as well as texture.

Outdoor wood decking

Wood plastic composite

For the artificial turf, we’ll be using putting green (PG10-SF) for the putting area and bermuda grass (BG35-NF Fresh) on the outer curve of the putting area. Absolut Outdoors proposed this combination of turf to create a more “realistic” look for our putting green (we can also see the gradient here). The bermuda grass will stop the ball and prevent it from hitting against the wall. Edison is totally excited to see this.

Artificial Turf from Absolut OutdoorsWe chose the 2nd and 3rd artificial turf in this picture

For my master room balcony (approx. 1.5m x 2m), we will also lay WPC in walnut. And I intend to put an outdoor swing chair for my own relaxation here.

I took this opportunity to consult Absolut Outdoors on some important design and decking considerations that most new homeowners may have. Here’s sharing with you some important pointers that I’ve learnt from them and my own experience thus far.

1. Outdoor flooring options

In general, there are 7 types of outdoor flooring options – ceramic tiles, pebble wash, cement screed, natural wood, wood-plastic composite (WPC), artificial turf and outdoor rugs. Check out this article on Outdoor Flooring Options for Singapore Balconies and Balcony Planters for more details on each type of flooring options.

The original tiles in my balcony still look acceptable to me, albeit plain-looking. But I don’t think I’ll ever get down to my knees to scrub the tiles. My worst fear is when moulds started to grow in the grouts, and I’m so OCD, I’ll be very annoyed looking at it. Thus, laying wood decking is a must to me.

What’s the main difference between natural wood and WPC, you may ask. WPC is timber made of 100% recycled plastic and wood materials. It’s widely used in outdoor decking nowadays because it’s more environmentally-friendly and requires less maintenance than solid wood. As this is a processed wood, it does not have the natural weakness of solid timber (i.e. warping, splitting and cracks), making it a durable product that is sure to last.

I also love to have a lot of “greens” in my house, which is why I choose artificial turf. Contrary to misconception that artificial turf is difficult to clean, it’s actually pretty easy to maintain. Just vacuum it using a vacuum cleaner or spray it with a hose to remove dust and other small debris that have accumulated between the grass fibres.

Artificial Turf Structure

Beneath the artificial turf, there’s a layer of high-quality fibres (white layer) that acts as a backing system and an AirDrain System (the black plastic pockets that you see in the picture) that provides rapid water drainage to prevent surface ponding.

2. Design and space planning

To design your outdoor space, take into considerations: 1) usage and function of your outdoor areas, 2) colour options, 3) size, 4) safety and child-friendliness, 5) amount of sunlight and rain you’ll be getting, 6) outdoor furniture, and 7) lighting.

The first and most important question to ask is – What do you intend to use your outdoor space for? An after-work chill corner, reading, kid’s play area, gardening, alfresco dining, relaxation, exercising, storage, or simply hanging your laundries (I gotta be honest!). From there, take into considerations the other factors I’ve listed above.

Read this article on 6 Balcony and Roof Terrace Space Planning Tips for useful tips on designing your outdoor space.

3. Maintenance fees to upkeep

Be realistic, nothing is completely maintenance-free. For WPC, it’s recommended to do a protective coat re-varnishing every 2 years to maintain its glossy look. Do check on the maintenance fees and procedures with your vendor before deciding on your decking options.

4. Installation process, warranty period from vendor, and guidelines from developer

Every developer has their own rules and regulations for outdoor space renovation. Be sure to check your resident’s handbook before you start renovating your outdoor spaces.

I can’t emphasize the importance of engaging a reliable and experienced vendor to carry-out your outdoor renovation works. Be sure to check on their warranty period as well as installation process. I understand that there are various decking installation processes – they can be a permanent fixture, semi-permanent or removable.

5. Budget

Lastly, setting a budget is the most important part of your renovation. Price everything out first, stay within your means, and maximize the most out of your budget. Bear in mind that most interior design companies outsource the “non-core” works like wood decking and painting to other vendors. You may be able to save some costs by engaging a vendor directly to carry-out your outdoor decking, rather than paying a mark-up price to your ID.

We engage Absolut Outdoors because we feel that they’re truly the specialist in this area, and they’re able to incorporate many interesting outdoor design ideas for us. Most importantly, they are really nice people to work with. They take pride in their works and it shows in their past projects.

Will share more details in Part 3 when we start our balcony renovation. Please stay tuned.

Related Post: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 1)

Promotion!

Absolut Outdoors is currently running a year-end promotion. Sign up for any service from now till 28 Jan 2016 and stand a chance to win a Bose SoundLink Mini worth $329 each. Every $1000 spent equals one chance to win and there are 10 sets to be won! Terms and conditions apply, click HERE for more details.

 

ABSOLUT OUTDOORS PTE LTD
81 Ubi Ave 4, #05-19 UB.One, Singapore 408830
Tel: +65 6749 8087
Website: http://www.absolutoutdoors.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbsolutOutdoors/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/absolutoutdoors/

 

Read more home renovation posts!

Bartley Residences: Designing the Perfect Balcony (Part 1)

Balconies are often left drab and under-utilized, but the right decor can turn them into a fabulous and functional outdoor living space. Way before we collect our keys, we already have interesting ideas on how to renovate our balconies. We want to have an after-work husband-and-wife chillax corner, a kid’s outdoor play area, and a small garden (a water feature would be a bonus!) at our front balcony.

Our front balcony has the size of 5m x 2m. New condominiums are shrinking in size every year. Our living hall is also quite small, thus transforming our front balcony into an exterior extension of our living hall is very crucial. As what V always says, every inch counts in making a small living space more comfortable and functional.

Our very first idea was to make a mini putting green. The idea came when I was searching for decorating ideas for small balconies. A combination of artificial green turf and wood-decking is visually pleasing, and we can also incorporate both adult chillax corner and kid’s play area in one place.

Picture Credit: Absolut Outdoors

Initially, we planned to let our ID take up our balcony renovation. He can do it concurrently with our home renovation, thus saves the hassles for us. But the most conventional way that most ID will propose is to lay wood-decking and artificial green turf at the outdoor area. The design looks rather ordinary, but I wanted something that is more visually striking.

Last week, I re-visited my own photo stash and I came across Absolut Outdoors, an exterior renovation company in Singapore. The first picture above was taken from their website. I was amazed at how they can revolutionize outdoor space with smart outdoor decorating ideas.

Thus, we decided to make a visit to their showroom. The moment I stepped in, I felt so happy because the showroom is bright and beautiful with greeneries, potted plants, colourful turf, wood-decking, green walls and a white bricks feature wall. I was like, “Everything that I want is in this place! I should’ve come earlier!”

The staffs at Absolut Outdoors are so friendly and helpful; they allowed me to take pictures of their beautiful showroom to get some ideas for my own balcony decoration.

Here are some balcony reno and decor ideas I learnt from Absolut Outdoors:

1. Artificial green turf
Picture Credit: Absolut Outdoors

Contrary to popular belief that artificial turf is difficult to maintain, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it is to clean. For spills, just wash with soap and water (like cleaning a floor). For dust and particles, just vacuum it (like cleaning a carpet).

The premium quality turf at Absolut Outdoors can withstand rain and weather, and retains its colour and shape for up to 10 years.

2. Coloured Turf

Seriously, this one is my favourite! It’s bright and bold, and it’s also the first time I’ve seen such a wonderfully-coloured turf. Unfortunately, it’s too bold for V’s liking, so we’ll stick to our original plan – the green turf.

3. Live Plants

We love the idea of putting live plants to enhance the beauty of our outdoor space. A beautiful wall of hanging planters instantly brings us the ‘fresh garden vibes’ without wasting our precious floor space.

4. Artificial Plants

Don’t like live plants? Fret not! There is an option for artificial plants too.

5. Green Walls

Green walls are fast gaining popularity among designers these days. Personally, I’m attracted to the aesthetic landscape design too. Absolut Outdoors provides ready-to-use framed designs in various sizes and also customized green walls.

6. Wood Decking
Wood decking (natural)
Wood decking (composite)

There are two options for wood decking – natural and composite. Both options are weather-resistant and suitable for outdoor and indoor use.

Step 1: Consultation session with Absolut Outdoors’ space-planning professionals

We spent close to an hour on our first consultation to share with them some ideas on how we want our outdoor space to look like. We browsed through their past projects to get more ideas. From there, we also saw samples on various types of artificial turf and wood-decking, as well as understanding their benefits and unique features.

I’m so looking forward to see the design proposal from Absolut Outdoors. With their expertise and passion, I’m confident that they can add style and value to our outdoor space. Will share more in Part 2, so please stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for outdoor decorating ideas and tips, check out Absolut Outdoor’s blog HERE.

 

ABSOLUT OUTDOORS PTE LTD
81 Ubi Ave 4, #05-19 UB.One, Singapore 408830
Tel: +65 6749 8087
Website: http://www.absolutoutdoors.com/

 

Read more home renovation posts!

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.

Picture Credit: Absolut Outdoors

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!