There is plenty of variety in Finnish balconies. At its best, a balcony is a relaxed extra room that brings added space and comfort to apartment living.
All modern Finnish apartment houses have balconies, and YIT’s apartments are no exception. Even many student apartments have balconies, says Teemu Kapulainen, Commodity Manager, Housing Finland at YIT. In YIT’s housing, the range of apartments varies from one premises to the next. There are French-style balconies, cantilever balconies, and large glazed terraces.
“In our Premium apartments, the balcony is a continuation of the living room, and can be as large as 15 square metres,” Kapulainen says.
Most balconies in Finland are glazed. In modern architecture, balconies are often fully glazed, using clear glass, creating an unobstructed view from the balcony over the surrounding area. Fully glazed balconies have a light appearance, and allow the maximum amount of light onto the balcony. The open view provided by a glazed balcony also creates a more communal feel in the yard and between neighbours.
Four seasons on one balcony
There is also variation in how balconies are used. According to balcony specialist Johanna Pelto, who maintains the website Parveke.fi, Finns can be divided into two categories based on the relationship they have with their balconies. One group makes use of every inch of the balcony area, filling it from floor to ceiling with plants, vegetables and herbs, whereas the other group use their balcony as more or less a storage area.
“In late summer, the balconies of the more enthusiastic group are like a jungle,” Pelto says.
Balconies tend to be thought of a summertime areas, but Pelto doesn’t share this view. In her opinion, a year in the life of every balcony has four seasons. In springtime, the balcony can be given a touch of colour with daffodils and other spring flowers that are well suited to cooler temperatures. The summertime is perfect for more delicate plants, with hardier species being suitable for the autumn.
“And balconies are not forgotten about, even in winter. Large cypresses are put on the balcony for Christmas, with Christmas lights and other decorations. And Pelto has another tip for late in the year: “In late winter, balconies look great with large lanterns, branches, and other decorations that are visible both from inside and outside.”
The growing season on balconies is long
The balcony is furnished and decorated in the same way as the other rooms in an apartment. Pelto encourages people to put some thought into how the balcony is to be used.
“Do you want a green paradise with deck chairs, or a space for socialising, for dining, a play area for children or pets, or perhaps a herb and vegetable garden?”
A glazed balcony makes an excellent greenhouse, with a long growing season extending from March to October or November. In recent years, the city gardening trend has made its way onto balconies as well. The walls are fitted with planting racks, with planting containers on the floor.
“It’s important, however, to remember the load-carrying capacity of a balcony, which is usually in the range of 400–500 kg/m2. Large planting containers, fittings, and damp soil are surprisingly heavy,” Pelto says.
Another safety consideration that is often forgotten, says Pelto, is that a balcony is an emergency exit from a building.
“It is not permitted to block the balcony completely, and for instance netting must be easily removable.”
Textiles add a homely touch
A balcony at its best is a restful additional room that adds an extra element of comfort to the apartment.
“It would be crazy to leave the potential of the balcony and its extra square metres unused,” says Pelto.
Balconies are well suited to making even your wilder visions come true, since a small area is easy to decorate and redecorate. Nonetheless, Pelto does advise some restraint and attention to harmony.
“If you use the same colours and materials as with the indoor decor, then the balcony becomes a seamless part of the overall home. A modern living room and a Bohemian balcony make for too strong a contrast.”
The current decorating trends that are making their presence felt on balconies are home-made fittings and decorations, and a preference for eco-friendliness, natural materials, and recycling. For instance, skips are reused as entire seating groups.
The floor is a fundamental part of the balcony. In YIT’s buildings, it is possible to cover bare concrete surfaces with wooden grates, for example, or mats – and this can even be done during the finalisation phase of the construction, says Kapulainen. Various types of boardings are also a common feature, and there’s no reason to just go for the traditional rag rug other, as long as there’s no risk of it getting wet.
Particularly with balconies that are used as living spaces, it’s common to see some form of screening, from weatherproof blinds to basic curtains on a regular curtain rack.
“But bamboo blinds are now becoming rare,” according to Pelto.
Seven bright ideas for balconies
1. For families with small children, a balcony sandbox with toys
2. Maximum use of the balcony walls and ceiling with shelves, wire racks, and hanging flower baskets
3. Summertime furniture, plants, and textiles
4. Take and collect pictures of beautifully planted and furnished balconies for your own use when the summer comes
5. Furnish and decorate the balcony according to the season
6. Be considerate towards your neighbours and follow the housing cooperative’s regulations
7. Relax and enjoy your balcony!
YIT’s prefabricated balconies
YIT is currently developing a balcony concept in which the balcony is assembled in advance, even before being brought to the building site, says YIT Housing Finland’s Commodity Manager Teemu Kapulainen. The goal is that the balconies will be installed in once piece, when the building is nearing completion.
“A ready balcony package that can be installed after the construction phase shortens the construction time, improves work safety on the site, and reduces the overall cost,” Kapulainen explains.
Teemu Kapulainen, Commodity Manager, Housing Finland at YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 840 3125, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hanna Malmivaara, Vice President, Communications at YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 561 6568, email@example.com
YIT creates a better living environment by building apartments, business premises, infrastructure and entire areas. Our vision is to bring more life into sustainable cities. We want to focus on caring for our customers, visionary urban development, passionate execution and inspiring leadership. The engine of our growth is urban development involving partners. Our operating area covers Finland, Russia, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2016, our revenue amounted to nearly EUR 1.8 billion and we employ about 5,300 employees. Our share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.www.yitgroup.com