This week I am sharing the details of my summer balcony makeover! No, I didn’t purposefully schedule the balcony makeover blog right after Lani’s Zoom Makeover. Rather, I’m hijacking the editorial calendar to write what inspires me, not what was scheduled!
I hope you enjoy this home makeover tale. And don’t mind that our so called “fashion blog” is branching out more and more. As we have learned over the past year and a half, there are a lot more tools one can use for self-care than clothing! My balcony makeover is nothing if not a tale of self care.
Take care of yourself!
The Balcony in Summer 2020
Coming into this current summer, I was frustrated with the misuse of our outdoor space. We had safety concerns about the balcony when the children were smaller. Then we lacked a clear vision for the space. So it just sat there, neglected by me and abused by my lovely children. The longer the pandemic went on with us living in an apartment, the more I realized that I had to prioritize making the space work for all of us.
It wasn’t all bad. We started the pandemic having a lot of meals out on the balcony at the bistro table I purchased at Crate & Barrel when we were first married. The kids would use the balcony to blow bubbles and draw with sidewalk chalk. Mr. Real Life Style actually put in and tended to window boxes in the summer of 2020. Then, with the crush of no camp and virtual schooling, we just lost it.
Spring 2021: Balcony Makeover-Before
Fast Forward to Spring 2021. The plants had died. All the metal furniture needed to be repainted. The concrete floor needed to be power washed. Pandemic lethargy had set in. It was time to admit defeat and ask for help. At this moment of frustration, my friend Riche Holmes Grant announced the premier of her new YouTube series with Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens Magazines, Outdoor Upgrade.
Three episodes in and my balcony lethargy had vanished! I spoke to the producers about having Riche do my balcony for the show. Although it did not work out because of location issues, answering the interview questions and watching the show was all I needed to crystallize my vision. I knew then I could do it myself. Ahem… I mean I could have Mr. Real Life Style do all of the research and execute my vision completely!
Summer 2021: Balcony Makeover-After
The balcony makeover was supposed to be my Mother’s Day present. I think you will agree that it was more of a total pandemic gift that will keep on giving for a long time afterward. Speechless, aren’t you? Can you even believe it is the same space? We literally added a room to our apartment. No small feat these days!
The image below is the side of the balcony where we previously had the bistro table and chairs. We debated whether or not to keep them. After all, the set was used the most of any furniture on the balcony. We ultimately decided that we preferred eating inside and using the balcony for other activities. I use the big, open space to practice yoga or do other exercise every morning. The kids also bring bins of Legos out there and have plenty of room to spread out. (Yes, I do love stepping on Legos at 5:30am when I go out there in the dark to do yoga. It means we are all enjoying the space!)
Balcony Makeover: The Main Ingredients
My husband searched long and hard for an affordable furniture set that would both fit our space perfectly and be up to our design standards. It is super comfortable. The Outsunny 7-Piece Outdoor Patio Furniture Set does inexplicably come with the small beige striped pillows pictured above. We gave them away. They seemed really inexpensive and we already owned matching grey and white striped outdoor pillows a stylish neighbor had gifted us.
How cool is this Outdoor Lattice Rug? Again, chosen by Mr. Real Life Style. I found a bunch of patterns I liked but was too overwhelmed to make a decision. He insisted on this design, and I trusted him. I insisted on getting two large rugs to cover the entire space and he trusted me. Great teamwork!
OMG, the faux hedges…Mr. Real Life Style did a ton of research on this element of the balcony makeover. He was very worried that it would look terrible and fake. Again, he trusted my vision and placed an order. Then the order was canceled because it was out of stock. After a week of going back and forth with the company and trying to find another option, we started over with a different company. Just like when our new wood floors recently came in not to our liking, sometimes starting over gets you a better result. We are THRILLED with the authentic look and the privacy our NatraHedge Artifical Lingustrum Ficus Mats afford. If you are thinking of doing this yourself, I warn you that my husband spent many hours installing the panels to get them to look as custom and full as they do. Order extra panels to fill in for a super lush look.
Balcony Makeover: The Accessories
We have these Solar Flame 25ft Waterproof Globe String Lights strung between the greenery and the top balcony railing. They look adorable even when they are not on. Sorry I can’t show you. I took these pictures before they arrived. They do need to plug in so we purchased a monster of a portable power bank, which I also use for my computer and phone chargers. I think we will use the lights a lot more as the days get shorter.
Have you seen my Instagram stories with the fire pit? I love this thing! And I had no idea how much it cost when Mr. Real Life Style bought it for me. Totally ridiculous for a piece of concrete, but it is gorgeous and very simple to use. Thanks again, Mr. Real Life Style!
All you need to make the Colsen Rectangular Fire Pit work is this Isopropyl Alcohol 91% and a lighter. We bought the good stuff so that we could also use it for roasting marshmallows. Yes, we can now make s’mores on our city balcony.
Keeping the Bugs Away
The only wrinkles in my plan to stay out on the balcony as much as possible are the sun and the bugs. I’m mostly out there from 5:30-8:00am, and again after 5:00pm, which takes care of the sun. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are out there all the time. Mr. Real Life Style researched the best citronella candles, ordering these Cutter Camping Candles. I’ve since also ordered some citronella tea lights. I’m not sure any of them work that well and have started just using real bug spray. I just ordered this Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray for a more natural option. Supposedly it is very effective, and much more so than a citronella candle. I’ll keep you posted!
My New Self Care Routine
Remember my morning closet routine? I had reconfigured my closet so that I could do my morning self-care routine in there every day. I still love my closet. However, the air flow is not optimal in summer, and it isn’t big enough to exercise. On top of that, I haven’t always had access to my closet during construction!
The balcony is now my new morning routine room! Having the balcony available as useful space has let me exercise every morning, almost without exception. I’m not disturbing anyone in my household, and I’m getting fresh air. I keep my yoga mat and blocks tucked behind the chair in the picture above. I bring my work tote with my journal and planner out with my coffee.
Do you have an outdoor space that you use for your self care? Do you share it with your family? I do share after 7am, I promise!
Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.
You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.