Many people in Hong Kong don’t have the luxury of a home with an outdoor area – or, if they’re lucky, they have just a tiny balcony off the side of a high-rise. So we’ve asked two members of the Bowerbird team – owner Philippa Haydon and new designer Jamie Wilkie – for advice on how to make the most of the space you have.
#1 Dress up a balcony
The best way to bring the outside in is to minimise the boundaries between your indoor and outdoor spaces; the spaces need to flow together, be connected visually and aesthetically, and be inviting and practical.
If at all possible, finish the exterior flooring to match the interior flooring so the living room extends visually to the outdoors and vice versa. Use sliding/folding doors that appear frameless or are set into the floor and have no lip: if the surfaces inside and out are the same level, there is less physical barrier between the spaces.
Regardless of the size of your outdoor space, even the smallest table and chair set can invite you out and bridge the divide. Alternatively, consider adding a low built-in seating area (with potential storage underneath), topped with long lounge cushions. Couple it with small garden stools that can double as seats or side tables to rest drinks on, a cute rug, some greenery and you’re good to go.
If space is particularly limited, consider a windowsill herb garden, vertical wall garden and/or terrariums. Lanterns and an interesting chandelier are other worthy considerations. Large mirrors on balcony walls can capture the view and add to the sense of space, especially if you are living in a high-rise.
#2 Accessorise with natural elements
Between the heat, humidity and air-conditioning, we’re lucky if we can keep fresh flowers looking respectable for more than two or three days. They do, however, soften a room and add that finishing touch, and silk flowers are a brilliant alternative. We love to mix flowers in the same way you would when picking flowers from a garden. Our favourite trick is to mix real and silk flowers and stand them in a clear glass vase with water.
For a natural beach look, beautiful nautical shells in glass frames or shadow boxes can make fantastic wall art. A piece of sea-fan coral under a cloche creates a lovely accent, and shells and coral grouped together on a sideboard or table, or on a shelf, can instantly add focus and a nautical flair to any room. Use a glass vase or bowl, pop in a candle, add some sand, place shells or starfish around the candle and place it on a side table, again you have yourself a small accent piece. Lastly, whenever you’re on holidays, collect sand and shells from your trip and store them in apothecary jars – not only are they beautiful to look at, but they’re also a reminder of many wonderful family holidays.
When it comes to soft furnishings, choose colours, patterns and fabrics that use natural tones or shapes that complement the view or outdoor environment. This is another easy way to achieve the connection between the outdoors and inside.
#3 Go green!
Using plants is one of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors in, especially if you’re living in a high-rise: potted plants or even herbs on a shelf or table can add freshness to the space. Bringing plants into your living environment is also an excellent way to purify your air. They work well in any interior by bringing in life and colour, and they can make a home feel more lived in and relaxed.
Think outside the box and turn ceramic wall planters into works of art. Cluster a few plants of varying heights and textures on a trunk or side table to create height and visual interest. If you have a vintage chair you enjoy looking at more than sitting in, consider using it as a plant stand to put both on display.
Bowerbird is at Unit 5, Level 2, 2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau.
2552 2727 | bowerbird-home.com