As the young heroine asks in the famous balcony scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – What’s in a name?
A Juliet Balcony has come to be the common name for what is more properly known as a balconette or a false balcony – an external elevated addition to a building without floor space. In that sense, the term ‘Juliet Balcony’ is a little confusing – if Juliet did stand at an open window with an external balustrade to have her conversation with Romeo, it was not really a balcony at all.
On the other hand, the name captures something of the romance and elegance that a Juliet Balcony brings to a structure. There are those who ask – what is the point? If you cannot walk outside, why bother?
But a Juliet Balcony is a wonderful way to add space to an upstairs room, to bring a little of the outdoor world indoors. Without the complexities of construction and planning presented by adding a full balcony, balconettes provide a cost effective way to make the most of views, and an architectural focus to building exteriors.
Here are some tips for how to make your Juliet Balcony worthy of a Shakespearean romance.
Sliding or Double Folding Doors
A balconette is meant to open up a room, so a door makes more sense than sticking with windows. Sliding glass doors give equally good access to the view whether they are shut against the cold or open to let in the breeze. Double inward folding doors are perfect if you want full access to the outside space.
Frameless Glass Balustrade
Traditionally, many Juliet Balconies have featured ornate wrought iron grill work or similar. While pretty from the outside, however, this type of design can restrict the view from inside. Frameless glass balconettes allow for completely unrestricted lines of sight so you get the most of the view, while providing a contemporary touch to the exterior of the building.
If your walls are thick enough, you can set the doors to a Juliet balcony back in a recess to create a little standing area behind the balustrade.
You may not be able to use a Juliet balcony to physically sit out in the open air to enjoy fine weather and romantic views, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy either in the same way. Having chairs and a table next to your Juliet balcony means you can get the same benefits – and with the doors closed, you can even enjoy the view when the weather is not so great.
Face the Right Way
A good view and some fresh air is all the more enjoyable if it is accompanied by some sunshine – so locate your Juliet balconies where you are going to get the most. North-facing aspects will tend to get little direct sunlight, meaning your balconette will spend most of the time in the shade. South-facing, on the other hand, and you will get the most of the sun morning and evening. A Juliet balcony is also a good way to ventilate and cool south-facing rooms, which will get very warm in summer with long hours of sunlight beating down on them.