How Odeke turned her balcony into an irresistible space

Cushions and some greenery add colour to Odeke’s balcony.  PHOTO/Esther Bridget Nakalya. 

What you need to know:

With clever planning Leah Odeke turned her balcony into the perfect place for her family’s meal times, reading and entertaining guests

Just like in most homes, Leah Odeke’s balcony was underused and unappreciated until she decided to transform it into a well-designed and tranquil space.  With clever planning her balcony is now a perfect place for her family’s meal times, reading and entertaining guests.

Designed for a purpose

Odeke’s is a reading family, so when designing the balcony, she created a space where one could comfortably sit with a book, without being distracted by the other household activities. She found a chair that is big enough for someone to curl up in and small enough to leave space for more furniture.

“The key to making my balcony feel more spacious is being selective about the furniture. I have learnt that when choosing furniture for such a limited space, less is best. To avoid cluttering the balcony, I incorporate furniture that is multi-functional. I am also keen at keeping it junk-free, so it is always tidy and organised,” says Odeke.

For meals, Odeke put a four seater table and a coffee table.

“There are basic elements to consider when choosing balcony furniture; it should be comfortable, functional and able to withstand the various weather challenges,” she says.

Add plants

To make it cozy Odeke added cushions, throw pillows and some potted greenery. 

“The plants add a vibrant colour and texture to the balcony.  My plants are not only beautiful but they also purify the air,  making it a healthy place to sit and relax,” she says.  Because of its primary purpose, the balcony is well-lit with energy saving bulbs to facilitate late night reading. The light bulbs create a luminescent atmosphere that is both aesthetically pleasing and not too harsh. You can also opt for well-placed candles or lanterns.

Elvis Opalla, an interior designer, recommends extending the interior décor theme to the balcony to make it become part of the whole home.

 “To achieve this, one can use similar flooring materials in both spaces to add a coherent design and continuity,” he suggests.   The interior designer says the only thing better than having a functioning balcony is having a garden on your balcony. To grow different plants one can take advantage of balcony railing as a hanging and vertical garden to save room or mini potted plants can be placed on tables as centerpieces. Hanging several plants in a row from the ceiling also shelters you from prying eyes.

Opalla also tips home owners to use hanging planters or vertical shelf to create a green oasis right on your doorstep. 

He tips, “You can add herbs such as basil and rosemary to your balcony garden. These aromatic plants will not only infuse your air with their refreshing scent, but will provide fresh herbs for your meals.”

Eliminate furniture

For families with young children, a balcony can provide the perfect play area. To make it safe for children, Opalla says one can eliminate furniture. “While furniture is good, it may not be convenient for toddlers or babies that have not yet acquired enough balance while walking or sense of danger. This is why I recommend an area rug, cushions and throw pillows to create a comfortable seating area. Keep things as simple and as minimal as possible,” the interior designer tips.  If you must have furniture and also use the balcony as a play area for children, Opalla recommends folding tables and chairs. “You are able to unfold and use the table and chairs, then fold and store them when not in use. This way, you have the best of both worlds,” he says.


For privacy purposes, Opalla recommends using curtains. “Curtains can add charm and a sense of privacy to a balcony. You can hang the curtain on a frame or simply drape it over the railing,” he says.

 The curtains will also be able to protect you from extreme sunshine. If the curtains are not sufficient for your situation, an outdoor umbrella or canopy will do the trick.