By Max Mervis

A balcony can be a tranquil refuge after a long day at the office, as long as it isn’t furnished with simply a forgotten chair and a dead plant or two. If you’re a new high-rise dweller or are considering selling your ‘home in the clouds’, remember that even the most meager outdoor space has the potential not only to add value, but also create additional living space. From ultra modern to unfettered fun, here are a few ways to make your outdoor space all your own, or create an outdoor sanctuary that will entice potential buyers.

Magnetic Eclectic

Very few things are as relaxing as an electric mix of textures, shapes and colors. Create a fun and whimsical space with handcrafted iron or paper Chinese lanterns, rough-hewn repurposed wood accent tables and vibrant indoor/outdoor pillows. Mixing some vintage chairs with a sleek, modern cafe table creates a sophisticated yet fun and inviting look. A colorful indoor/outdoor rug anchors the entire design while softening what is often a so-not-pretty concrete surface.

[caption id="attachment_40165" align="alignright" width="300"] The wrap-around balcony of a third-floor home at Hacienda Beach Club & Residences in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.[/caption]

Modular Modern

The benefit of modular outdoor seating is that pieces can be pulled apart for parties or completely combined for comfort, creating a larger, continuous living space. Look for simple, clean profiles that offer a bit of texture and visual interest. One of my favorites is all-weather rattan, handwoven, upholstered in solid canvas. Compliment the modern clean lines with some tailored outdoor cushions and pillows and you’ve created a restful but decidedly contemporary look. If you’re lacking the green thumb required for plants, accessorize with a few statement pieces such as oversized lanterns or simply one amazing outdoor sculpture.

Serene Spa Sanctuary

A clean, white background sets the stage for a perfectly peaceful, zen-like escape. Bamboo or bentwood seating can be the center of activity, or place for some quiet meditation at the end of the day. Placed strategically in a shady corner, a wicker chaise-longue makes an ideal reading nook, and some natural linen curtains compliment the relaxing feel of your spa as they blow gently in the breeze. Small terra cotta or zink pots filled with succulents and a hearty palm add a touch of green to the monochromatic decor. Finished with some overstuffed cotton pillows, a natural woven seagrass rug and some clear glass votive candles, you’ve created the perfect place for some much needed mental repose.