It feels slightly odd (and a little unnerving) to be writing this while rain and wind patter on my rooftop relentlessly but I promise to deliver a cheerful post about outdoor spaces nevertheless. In fact, a storm should be a reminder that sunny days are ahead (because rain can’t last forever, right??). At least that’s what I tell myself. So wherever you are right now, despite any and all weather forecasts, today I want us to look toward sunny spring and summer days where we can enjoy our outdoor spaces with vigor. But here’s one thing I know about outdoor spaces no matter how big or small: The more functional and aesthetically pleasing they are, the more you will seek to go outside and enjoy them. They don’t have to be magazine worthy by any means, but some furniture and light styling can make a small, unused area feel like an inviting outdoor oasis. So if you are looking for some small changes you can make to make a BIG impact in your outdoor space, this is for you.
If we are talking about small outdoor spaces, Jess’ balcony is a great place to start. It is long and narrow (30″ x 20′) but that didn’t stop her from packing it with beautiful and functional furniture. The chaise lounge chair is vintage and not only fits the width of the balcony perfectly, but it also helps take up the length of the balcony which is, as you can see, quite long. When it is warm and sunny, she styles it with pillows and blankets for ultimate comfort and relaxation. The trick with outdoor decorating is to visualize how you will want to use your space (which is, in fact, how we suggest approaching designing indoor spaces too). For example, Jess lives in LA which is USUALLY quite sunny most of the year, so a lounge chair where she can hang out, unwind, and listen to music was a main priority for her.
If a chaise is what your outdoor space is currently missing, here are some we love:
On the other side, Jess added a vintage bistro table and vintage chairs to create another separate zone to enjoy. Her dining area is a perfect little outdoor escape where she can enjoy meals or sit outside and drink natural wine with a friend.
Also, please note the blankets draped over the backs of the chairs. They are not just for style. She uses them to add extra cushion to the chair because the iron back was not the most comfortable. When it rains, however, she brings her cushions and blankets inside to protect them.
If you are looking to start building a small outdoor dining set, here are some bistro tables to get you started:
Before we move on, Jess’ DIY floor deserves a moment. She used these IKEA plastic outdoor tiles and spray painted them to create this checkered moment that is just so cool and fits her Parisian aesthetically perfectly. You can read all about how she did it here.
Caitlin wanted to transform her rarely used, charming but “needs work” balcony into a functional and beautiful space she would actually want to spend time in. Her first step in doing that was to provide more seating which started with this loveseat. It comfortably seats two and she says it’s her favorite place to lounge in the whole apartment. She usually stacks up those pillows on the right-hand side, closest to the window, and props her feet up on the bars when she is doing some morning journaling. It’s just such a great, comfy place to watch the sunrise (yes, Caitlin often rises before the sun – something I admire yet probably will never accomplish myself :)). The pillows, blanket, and outdoor rug add a layer of warmth and coziness which is so important if you want to use your outdoor space as often as possible.
If a loveseat is just what you need, we suggest these picks:
On the opposite side, she carved out a place for a bistro table and chairs but what’s perhaps most exciting is the styling here. Who knew you could put a mirror on your outdoor balcony??? Not me until I saw Caitlin do this! It’s such a great idea and actually makes the space feel bigger and more open (and draws the eye up). Another thing that draws your eye up is her ingenious idea to add curtains to cover the bar wall that she not-so-endearingly likened to a “prison backdrop”. The curtains are made from Sunbrella fabric so they are durable and heavyweight so they can weather even the most intense LA storms.
If you want to steal Caitlin’s look and for a simple wall styling idea, here are some mirror picks:
When Malcolm set out to design his 10’x11′ deck, he wanted to create three distinct zones: a lounge area, a food prep/grill area, and a gardening area. The other important goal for him was to build a privacy wall that would separate his space from the dozens of other units on the property, but would still allow him to enjoy the outdoor views. Being the fantastic DIYer that he is, he built the wall with 2x4s from Home Depot and door hinges to keep them together and allow it to be moveable and portable. I love how seamless the wall is with the rest of his deck and if you want to know more about it, you can read all about that process here!
We simply love how cohesive and functional his outdoor deck turned out. The bench lays out the ideal spot for lounging, with a small drink table to accompany it, and he also made space for a bar cart where he can food prep or make drinks. At the risk of repeating myself again, I think it’s important to note that styling outdoor spaces as you would the indoors really helps to make them more attractive and therefore enjoyable to use. Plants, some textiles, and trays can really elevate your outdoors with minimal effort.
If you want to start building your own lounge area, here are some durable bench options:
For some more outdoor inspiration and some wonderfully innovative DIY ideas, we asked readers to submit their outdoor transformations. Here are some we love!
Morgan’s Front Porch
This incredible front porch transformation was sent in by a reader named Morgan, and right away I knew we had to feature it. It is such a wonderful example of making an “OK” space into an idyllic outdoor retreat. To freshen up the flooring, she used brick pavers and grouted over them to create a rustic look. Then she strung lights, added plants, and DIY’d a lovely swing that was assembled by using reclaimed wood, rope, and some hooks. For a relaxing seating area, she found chairs on Facebook Marketplace and scored that bistro table from Target.
I love the sweet farmhouse vibe (I mean, what’s more farmhouse than 3 cute chickens clucking around??). The log stand also adds to this effect beautifully. Also, for anyone wondering the exterior paint color is Pure Black by Behr.
Caitlin’s Side Yard
This narrow sideyard was submitted by one of our readers, Caitlin. As you can see the area was previously unused and uninspiring, so she decided to makeover the space into a garden sanctuary. The pebbles, stone walkway, and raised garden beds make it a 100x more inviting and useful space. Brava Caitlin!
We have featured this incredible NY balcony transformation before, but it is worth revisiting because the transformation is awe-inspiring AND it includes a quite simple DIY. With a bamboo fence, a faux trellis, and zip ties, this reader’s balcony was transformed into a slice of serene outdoor heaven. She calls it “The Easiest DIY Green Wall Ever” but it’s also the smartest. Since NY experiences all of the seasons, her bamboo and faux greenery should hold up beautifully. This is incredibly renter-friendly (no tools needed), small space friendly and for a rough total of $500, you can make one yourself. She wanted to point out that the $500 is for two panels so if you need only one panel then slash that price in half. 🙂
That is all for now, sweet friends. I hope this post helped anyone who needed it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! xx
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