What could be better on a warm spring day then stepping outside and enjoying the view from your balcony? Whether you want to savor the sunrise with a cup of coffee, wind down after a long day at work, or throw the party of the month, there’s no place like a Chicagoland balcony, terrace, or patio to make the outdoors truly feel like home.
And whether you live in a high rise, a two-flat, or a single family home, we’re heading for prime outdoor living season. The spring and summer months are the perfect chance to really enjoy your home’s most open and airy spaces. But often, getting to enjoy your exterior is going to mean putting in a little bit of work first. With freezing temperatures, piles of snow, and icy conditions, the winter months can really take a toll on a home’s outdoor areas.
Before your next spring soiree or afternoon siesta, you’ll want to unpack your patio furniture, hang your hammock, and take on a few simple chores to make sure your outdoor space is clean and ready to use.
Here are five big steps you can take to get your Chicagoland balcony, rooftop, or deck ready after a rough winter:
1.) Give the Space a Thorough Cleaning
The winter months can leave an outdoor area feeling dirty and grimy. Ice and snow can leave marks on your surfaces, and this off-season is a perfect time for dust, debris, cobwebs, and mold to gather on your balcony.
Before you can start enjoying the spring weather, take some time to really clean off your outdoor areas. Depending on your set-up, you’ll want to wash, vacuum, or sweep your floors — or, more often than not, some combination of all of the above.
First, take some time to sweep and vacuum, making sure you get into the corners of the space, where dirt piles and cobwebs love to linger. You can also use a long-handled cleaning tool to reach the higher parts of your balcony, and knock off any cobwebs or clingers that may have gathered. Once you’ve done a first sweep, you can follow with a wash. If you have downstairs neighbors, you may want to skip the hose or power-washer; most likely, your neighbors won’t appreciate a deluge of water coming over the sides of your balcony. Instead, use a mop and your favorite cleaning solution, which can give you a lot more control.
Finally, remember the little details. You may want to take some time to wipe down your railings or ledges, or polish your outdoor lighting fixtures.
Remember: safety first! Be very careful when you clean your balcony or deck, especially if you live on a high floor. Always take precautions to avoid slipping and falling, including having a spotter or buddy with you while you clean.
2.) Make Sure Your Windows and Doors are Clear
Whether you have french doors, sliding doors, or a floor-to-ceiling window, you’ll want to take some time to make sure that the entrance to your outdoor space is clean and inviting. Not only will this make your outdoor area feel nicer and more party-ready, but it can also let more light into your home, which might be a welcome change after a dark and gloomy winter.
To clean glass surfaces, you can use your favorite commercial glass cleaner, or carefully make your own cleaning solution — water and vinegar, or water and dish soap, are popular home remedies. Wipe the surface with your cleaning solution and a gentle cloth, such as microfiber, then follow up with a squeegee for a truly streak-free finish.
3.) Clean and Prep Your Outdoor Furniture
Once your balcony or deck is clean, you can start filling the space with all of your favorites. Many people pack their outdoor furniture away during the winter months; others leave it out, covering it with tarps or taking steps to “winterize” the pieces. In either case, as you set out your outdoor furniture, you may want to give it all a good wipedown.
Most plastic and metal furniture can be treated with a little bit of water and a gentle cleaning solution. Using a sponge or a gentle cloth, wipe down the arms, legs, and backs of the furniture pieces, including tables and chairs. You can also clean outdoor wood furniture the same way. You may want to use a brush to treat the wood initially, and use less water to avoid mold.
And don’t forget to make things comfortable, and stylish, by setting out cushions, rugs, pillows, and furniture covers. Many outdoor cushions and textiles are machine-washable. In other cases, you can usually vacuum fabric surfaces to get rid of obvious dirt and debris before the spring weather really settles in.
4.) Give Your Green Thumb a Workout
There are few ways to celebrate spring quite like filling your outdoor areas with fresh plants and flowers.
As we move from the doldrums of winter into the brightness of spring, one way to refresh and update your balcony or deck is to bring in new plants. Whether your goal is to create shade, add a pop of color, or start a usable herb or vegetable garden, there are countless creative ways to get started.
For example, if your space is limited, you can always add greenery by going up, with hanging baskets or climbing gardens, which you can mount to an empty exterior wall. Adding planters to a railing is also a popular choice around Chicagoland, particularly for growing herbs and produce, or bright flowers. Or, you could repurpose items that you already have, turning an old wooden chest into a planter, or upcycling a laundry drying rack into a DIY space for climbing vines.
5.) Start Planning for Your Perfect Outdoor Space
Is it time to revive your outdoor space with some fresh design touches? There’s no time like the start of the spring season to think about all of the ways that you can refresh and optimize your exterior living areas.
That could mean maximizing your exterior space for entertaining, by rearranging your furniture or investing in some new pieces. It could mean rethinking your design, by adding new colors to the space via floor mats, pillows, or drapes.
Or, in some cases, it could mean really taking a big swing, and completely reinventing your balcony space. Have you always wanted to create a personal greenhouse? Or set up a space primed for afternoon naps? Do you want to take your patio from retro to ultra-modern? As the weather gets warmer and you start spending more time outdoors, think about the space you have, and all of the dreams you have for it. By taking steps both big and small, this may be the season when you truly start transforming your balcony into the extra living area you’ve always wanted.
Let Baird & Warner Help You Find Your Space
A home is more than a place to live. It’s your canvas, a place where you can let your imagination go and create the space that truly works for you. At Baird & Warner, we get you. And our team of hyperlocal agents knows just what it takes to help you find the Chicagoland home you’ve been looking for.
Whether your dream is a high rise with a view, or a quiet home with a lawn all your own, we can help you find your ideal space. And with mortgage and title services in-house, we make the dream of home ownership easier, at every step of the way.