WE USED TO THINK OF LONDON AS OUR CITY, OUR PATCH; OUR SPACE. WE TOOK FOR GRANTED HOW EASILY WE COULD ZIP FROM ONE NEIGHBOURHOOD TO THE NEXT: THE CITY FOR WORK, WEST END FOR DINNER, SOUTH BANK FOR DRINKS AND THEN (FOR VERTUS) CANARY WHARF WHEN HOME CALLED.
Now, our lives have shrunk. Our homes and their immediate vicinities are the new extent of our physical world. But instead of lamenting the loss of such freedoms, many are seizing the opportunity to cultivate a deeper sense of wellbeing. They’re capitalising on a slower pace of life to search for balcony inspiration and experiment with kitchen garden ideas, investing time and energy into things that used to be side-lined in favour of dinner reservations across town.
Here are some tips to help you kickstart your own mini home-growing revolution and find joy in places much closer to home.
Curate your outside space
The vast majority of apartments at 10 George Street come with a balcony. All are east, west or south facing, so enjoy plenty of sunlight while offering far-reaching, uninterrupted views of South Dock, Wood Wharf and the rest of Canary Wharf.
Such spaces are perfect spots to escape to at the end of a long day, and we’re guessing you’re spending more time in them ever before. So it’s time to improve how they make you feel.
The first step is to determine how you’ll use it. Is this a space for reading? Do you plan to work here? Are you envisaging more of a chilled out, ‘zen’ vibe for meditation or yoga? Decide this before you embark on any changes as it will inform where you look to for your balcony design ideas.
With the mercury rising, your balcony or terrace is no longer just an offshoot of your living area, so approach it like you would any other room. Start with a little research. Influencers like Justin (@design_at_nineteen) are a great resource for finding inspiration for everything from colour palettes to furniture and even planting arrangements. His muted palette of cool woods and stones accented with bright greens is timeless, bringing his outdoor space to life without overpowering it.
We also love Melanie (@melanielissackinteriors) for her vibrant and eclectic style. Her feed is interiors-focused, but when she does step outside onto the balcony her fine-tuned DIY skills and keen eye for colour, materiality and space planning offer great balcony inspiration. She also lists where her items have been sourced, making it easy for you to steal a few ideas…
And don’t forget to consider plants. Biophilia (meaning a love of nature) is now an accepted, endorsed phenomenon proving our innate instinct to seek out connections with nature. Choose potted flowers for decoration and to encourage bees, and don’t underestimate scent in the curation of your space. Rosemary and lavender are ideal due to their easy upkeep and complimentary fragrances that will make your balcony a pleasant space to spend time in.
For those final pieces, check out Waitrose & Partners and Browns London at Canada Place here on the Estate. They’ve got a great selection of house and outdoor plants including orchids and succulents to add the finishing touches to whatever space you’re trying to enliven.
Grow your own, inside and out
Ornamental plants and flowers aren’t the only option of course. Low- maintenance vegetables such as radishes, spinach and tomatoes are ideal for outside areas blessed with plenty of sunlight. All germinate quickly, are easy to grow and reward your hard work with delicious, fresh veg capable of brightening up sauces and salads.
‘Cultivating your own food is not just rewarding, it is also excellent exercise and yields benefits to both mental and physical health. It’s hard to think of a better tonic in these trying times.’
– ‘Why we’re all growing vegetables’, The Guardian, April 2020.
If your goal is self-sufficiency, you’re going to be disappointed. No one’s feeding an army from their balcony-based veg box. But what it can do is supplement your diet and encourage you to eat more vitamin-packed greens, all while providing a rewarding and stimulating project that connects you more closely with nature. It may also pick up the slack too often taken up by Deliveroo as you’re driven to find new recipes for all your home-grown produce.
Your balcony or terrace isn’t the only place to test your green fingers of course. Indoor kitchen gardens are becoming increasingly popular as people look to explore new flavours in a sustainable way that swerves the trappings of plastic-wrapped supermarket fare. If you decide to grow your own kitchen garden, herbs are best suited. Think thyme, basil, mint, lemongrass, rosemary, chives and oregano.
Get started with a basic garden tool set and you can order seeds and seed sewing compost online. With floor-to-ceiling windows and uninterrupted perspectives, the apartments at 10 George Street lend themselves perfectly to such small-scale cultivation by pulling huge amounts of natural light into their living spaces. Make sure wherever you establish your ‘garden’ is similarly well-served.
Think about pots too. You don’t want a mishmash of terracotta, black and grey plastic pots which fade in the sun over time. Oliver Bonas offer a beautiful ABUO ceramic plant pot and stand shorts which can be picked up from their Canary Wharf store at Jubilee Place. Ultimately, it’s all about tailoring your kitchen garden at home to what works with your unique space.
Making good habits
There are many habits we’ve picked up over the past months that few of us will want to continue (constant fridge grazing for example). But what this experience has taught us is that the restorative power of nurturing living things and engaging with the outside world is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle and sense of wellbeing. This is something we won’t want to forget in a hurry.
At 10 George Street residents have free of Harbour Quay’s expansive boardwalks and the tranquil waters of South Dock – all swaddled by the meandering Thames. This means their neighbourhood is largely free from the noise, pollution and the ‘closed-in’ feel of so many dense, urban areas.
That said, even those living in such enviable environments are putting newfound time and energy into closer connections with nature closer to home. Both your indoor and outdoor living areas are fertile places for personal growth, so whether you use this opportunity to reimagine a space or try your hand at a little urban gardening, just remember, both are endeavours that will enrich you long after London springs back to life.
So why not start now?