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Turn Your Balcony Into A Summer Staycation Hot Spot

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Sometimes the best vacation is when you never even leave the house.

It’s a lot of work to plan, coordinate and pack up for a weekend or weekday get a way. That’s why sometimes I like to turn off my phone, lock the front door and not leave the house for an entire day. Whether it’s reading a book from cover to cover or catching up on all the recordings on my PVR sometimes the best way to de stress and relax is to never leave the house. I need one of those days but the only problem is my balcony is looking a little blah and uninspired and that is causing me some stress as it’s summertime and I’ve barely used it. Truth be told I’ve been embarrassed to have people on it in it’s current state. I need help and I know it so I call in the big guns, Wim Vanderzalm of Art Knapp.

The pation before picture

If you live downtown it has been the place to buy your plants and flowers for decades. On a walk with a friend a few weeks ago I walked by the Hornby Street location and wandering through the store I was inspired to get my balcony back in shape and in entertaining style. While the staff are super knowledgeable about all things green I needed extra help so I booked a consultation with the Wim to come to my home and give me some tips and suggestions. I’m sure I could have taken lots of pictures and measurements but having the top guy take a look in person seemed like the smarter way to go Smile

Art Knapp The Urban Garden

Art Knapp an urban oasis of plants

planters of all shapes and sizes at Art Knapps

outdoor shopping at Art Knapps

With a glass of wine (Haywire Rose of course) in hand Wim and I take a look at what I’ve got to work with, 48 sq ft with Eastern exposure and only a few hours of early morning sun each day.

Wim Vanderzalm giving me some ideas for my patio

Wim taking about a planter

Balcony design starts with questions:

  1. How do you plan to use the space? I like to have friends over for drinks and BBQ
  2. How many people would you normally have over? 3 plus myself = 4
  3. How much time do you want to spend on maintenance? As little as possible + I’m traveling a fair amount
  4. Any strata rules to keep in mind? Nothing on the rails or attached to the walls or ceiling + no watering where water flows below
  5. Do you have any favourite flowers or plants? Lilacs and Sweet Peas

That last question sparked many memories for me. Lilacs and Sweet Peas are fragrant and I associate both with childhood memories, happy ones of course. I want happy memories on my balcony so let’s get a bit a fragrance on there please.

Consultation over the next step is actually making it a reality. This is where I’ve always failed in the past. First off I don’t have a car so it’s always work coordinating borrowing one from a friend or renting one and secondly it is at least a half day to make it all happen. Wim & Art Knapp to the rescue, they will install it for me!!!!! Woohoo!

Delivery from Art Kanpp for Marc Smith

clearing the balcony

A couple of boxwoods

Two Boxwoods and a Jasmine are the main features for the balcony. The boxwoods to help frame the space and provide year round greenery with the Jasmine providing more greenery and lots of beautiful fragrance. Super easy to take care of both require only watering once per week in the heat of summer and twice a month in the Fall/Winter months. Something else that struck me during the installation is that both of these plants will survive year round which means I won’t have to do this all over again next spring like I’ve done in the past with flowering baskets. I think the phrase that sums it up best was from Wim when he said “I don’t want to create pets for you that you have to worry about taking care of”. Perfect.

Jasmine tree

Two more fun additions, one for inside my condo the other for the balcony, are beautiful succulent arrangements. The one for the balcony fits perfectly under the glass top table between the legs. A great use of dead space yet still adding some colour, depth and more life to the balcony.

succulent planter under the table

succulent planter fits perfectly under the planter


succulent planter for inside the house

Now all that is left to do is put the chairs I have back out and to relax.

putting the chairs out

Marc and Wim looking at the new balcony

finished balcony

I have to say I really don’t like my chairs. They are brown and take up too much space, I can only fit two comfortably on there. I think this new balcony deserves new chairs to compliment the fine work by Wim and his Art Knapp team. Say hello to new chairs.

Red Chairs from Canadian Tire

The best time to shop for patio furniture is mid summer, great deals can be had. These lovely folding chairs were only $40 each at Canadian Tire and the pop of red colour adds just the right touch to finish off the look. I can’t wait to have friends over now and the plants will only get better as they mature and settle. Before friends come over though I might just lock myself in with a good book and a glass of wine, STAYCATION!

When you decide to transform your outdoor space no matter how big or small think of the questions that Wim asked me and go prepared with pictures and the measurements of your space. It’s the next best thing to an in home consultation.

I want to say a huge thank you to Wim and the whole Art Knapp team for helping me turn some random thoughts into the perfect balcony oasis for me. To help you turn your Drab into Fab Art Knapps is giving you the chance to win a $100 gift certificate to spend on anything in their store. If you win invite me over I’ll bring the wine!

All you have to do to be eligible is the following: (contest closes August 14th at 5 pm)

  1. Leave a comment on this blog with your favourite flower or flower memory
  2. Like either Art Knapp Facebook page or follow them on Twitter

For an additional entry you can tweet the following (you must have done steps 1 & 2 though to be eligible)

RT to enter to win a $100 GC from @ArtKnappVan + @TheMarcSmith #30DaysOfSummer //t.co/lxWsntjW1k

Here’s to a great get a way and for this one I don’t even have to leave the house. Cheers!

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.


  1. David Hannigan on

    Geraniums and petunias. My mom grew them. Probably because they are hardy and as a kid I wanted to be in the garden 😉

  2. Doris Middleton on

    My favorite flowers are also scented ones: lilacs, sweet peas, and climbing honeysuckle.

  3. Double Impatience. They look amazing in flower boxes. – just like little rose buds!

  4. Megan Kennedy on

    Love the transformation. My favourite flower is the sunflower however I love vegetable and herb plants.

  5. I am in LOVE with Chinese Lanterns and Tiger Lilies, basically all things vibrant. I have a nice balcony space that needs some TLC. (yours looks great Marc!)

  6. roses, Especially the gardens in Stanley Park, fond memories of my childhood with my mother and now with my grandchildren

  7. Lilacs… I remember when I lived in Kelowna as a child walking to and from school, I would pass this house with a HUGE lilac bush out front. Almost every day the owner of the house would meet me so I could cut some lilac flowers to bring to my mom… for two weeks or so our place would smell amazing.

  8. Sunflowers, remembering summers camping in France with my parents. Gratitude for growing up in Europe and now living in beautiful BC. 🙂

  9. I love pansies! I put them on my balcony to brighten things up and they are low maintenance!!!