If you are staying on the ground floor and have adequate space all round for plants, lawns etc. you are very lucky. Those of us who stay on the upper floors do not have such a luxury.
But we have the option of BALCONIES! and I love them. Balconies can be big, small, narrow, deep or even wide. They sometimes are so big, they can be called ‘Terraces'.
A balcony can double up as a sit-out or dining area when the weather permits, or a play area for children, or a study, or an open sleeping area during summer.
If the living area extends into the balcony, the balcony becomes part of it. In a high rise apartment, it can be converted into a garden. Whether high rise or not, a balcony connects the rest of the house with outdoors or to the nature.
The balcony is your private open area, on par with open courtyards, front yards and back yards. The activities that can be performed in a balcony depend on many factors such as the area of the balcony, the seasons, location of it in the house etc. For eg: if the balcony is towards east side of the house, it can be used for morning exercises or yoga; if it is next to the kitchen, it can an extended preparation space or washing and drying area. Balcony attached to the dining room, when opened by sliding / folding doors, your dining room becomes bigger automatically. Next to the drawing or living room, the living space can spill over into the balcony when necessary.
For me, balconies are intermediate spaces. They connect indoors to outdoors. In fact they bring outdoors into indoors.
Balconies can be covered or open to sky type, or partially covered and partially open.
The house / flat owner has to decide before hand whether he / she wants a balcony; if yes, then how many or what size. They should also be clear about what they want them for. This will help them to arrive at the optimum size of the balcony. I know a couple who wanted the smallest balcony possible, if at all. For them it was a waste of space.
In a place like Goa, a big or long balcony on the west side is not of much use. The rainfall lashes from west and south west during the long monsoons and very hot during summer months. Unless you want sea views badly opt for balconies on north or east sides.
A beautifully designed balcony makes a statement. It says something about the residents!