Cooking & Living in Small Spaces with Style

Don't Abandon Your Sun-Drenched Porch! Claim It!

Balcony-Porch-Verandahshirley byrdComment
from  Freshhome

from Freshhome

For some of us, we are happily though sometimes miserably living through the hot "dog days" of summer:  back to back days of high temperatures reported in three-digit heat indexes, and oppressive, suffocating humidity.  And for many of us, we look out our glass doors to our balcony and its unappealing hot sun-drenched balcony.

I'm here to tell you there are some things you can do to reclaim that abandoned balcony--even in the mid day heat.  All or some of these suggestions will work for you based upon the construction, size and location of your balcony.  Here are a few.

Add an umbrella, an awning, shades or outdoor drapes

I'm not an affiliate but you can start your search for a wall-mounted outdoor umbrella at   Houzz  .

I'm not an affiliate but you can start your search for a wall-mounted outdoor umbrella at Houzz.

I'm not an affiliate but you can start your search for a wall-mounted outdoor umbrella at   Houzz  .

I'm not an affiliate but you can start your search for a wall-mounted outdoor umbrella at Houzz.

Include outdoor carpeting

I recently purchased a polyester indoor-outdoor area rug for my balcony from  I was a little nervous until it arrived and I laid it on the concrete flooring.  This turned out to be one of my better decisions.  Granted I have a covered porch but that doesn't eliminate the heat and humidity.  I can say that even on the most heat-oppressive days, this area rug feels soft, comfortable and cool to bare feet.  

Add cushions and pillow

Quality fabric, such as cotton, gives comfort to the skin, as well as absorb perspiration.  Isn't that one of the reasons for sunbathing with a terricloth towel?

The artificial material choices for cushions and decorative pillows are many.  Some are expensive with fabulous designs by popular designers, some are not expensive.  They're great for reducing fading  to the fabric,  standing up to rainfalls and contain inserts resistant to mildew.   

Having run my hand across such fabrics, crunched and balled them up, I was not convinced of such materials as being comfortable and cooling.  I love textile but sorry folks, I just don't buy them.  I'm a strong proponent of natural fiber and even a blend of natural fiber and a man-made fiber such as polyester.   Such fabrics allow the skin to "breathe," better absorb perspiration and feels cool. 

A quality, mildew resisting insert is a much better investment.  Should you decide to purchase cushions and pillows with artificially created fabric, then at least take the time to find one that is comfortable to the skin.  You won't last long on a sun drenched balcony if you skin continues to stick to the fabric.    

Of course, if you decide to cover pillows with cotton or linen be prepared to store the pillow(s) to avoid fabric fade or mildew.

Add heat loving plants and flowers--lots of them!

The aides in the idea that heat loving plants and flowers  really appeal to the perception of coolness and comfort.  Such plants tolerate, even love the heat and will be around for you throughout the summer.  Most important, caring for your heat loving balcony garden will bring you back to your apartment garden and provide for you a wealth of other benefits, as suggested in Plants Make you Feel Better

Based on several experimental studies, the presence of potted plants has been found to be helpful in many different settings including work, school, and hospitals. In particular, plants have been shown to...

Lower blood pressure (systolic)
Improve reaction times
Increase attentiveness
Improve attendance (at work and school)
Raise productivity (at work)
Improve well-being
Improve perceptions of the space
Lower levels of anxiety during recovery from surgery
Raise job satisfaction
— Jonathan Kaplan, PhD for Psychology Today

Large heat loving plants can also provide privacy, as well as shade.

Here's a very short list of heat loving flowers.  Mix them with large leaf heat loving plants.  For additional selections of flowers, see Weekend Gardener and  8 Heat Tolerant Plants for Containers.

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  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella)
  • Texas Bluebells (Lisianthus / Eustoma)
  • Bitterweed (Hymenoxys odorata) (Tetroneuris)
  • Coleus "Big Blonde"
  • Fanflower (Scaevola aemula)

In Short

You may still find the mid-day sun and high temperatures too much to sit under and enjoy your balcony.  Certainly, there are other times of the day to claim a sun-drenched balcony.  Adding such elements as umbrellas, awnings, draperies, carpeting, cushions and pillows and plants can offer comfort and protection.  One other item to add is a mounted or floor fan to circulate the air. 

Most important, claim or reclaim your sun-drenched porch!

This is an updated post moved from (That's annsliee without a hyphen.) 

You may be interested in these posts on balconies and porches: