I'm back with the next installment of my Reader Design Dilemma series! Jacqueline lives in Chicago with her partner, Jack and their sweet pup Ali. (Be sure to check out her new blog, Twenty & Dating!) They have this cute little balcony/back porch area off of their apartment, but haven't been sure how to use it.
While this balcony isn't quite big enough for entertaining, Jacqueline wanted an outdoor space where she and Jack could hang out and enjoy the nice summer weather. She was looking for some inexpensive, DIY projects to decorate this space and make it more usable.
Alright, Jacqueline! Here's what I'm suggesting for your balcony:
Since this is such an open shared balcony, I know one of your hopes was to differentiate where YOUR space starts and ends. A great way to do that without creating physical barriers is by using an outdoor rug. This is a tried and true interior design trick when working with open concept spaces, both indoors and out! Adding a rug will help to break up the space and minimize the "bowling alley" effect that is has going on right now.
Because this is a space that your neighbors will occasionally need to walk through, any seating you have out here needs to be lightweight and portable. I found this awesome DIY milk crate stool project from The Eager Teacher. I'm suggesting three to sit side by side in the 48" wide space underneath your window. To modify this project for outdoor use, I would purchase outdoor fabric to upholster the tops with and also add a layer of plastic between your foam cushion and your fabric. You can use inexpensive plastic drop cloths for this, which can be purchased at any hardware or paint store. Since your balcony is covered and they won't be directly exposed to the elements, this should be all you need. The bonus is you can bring them inside when you have company for extra seating! I'm picturing these black milk crates with a fun print fabric like this.
Moving up to the ceiling, there's nothing that I love more than some twinkling string lights! Aside from giving some great mood lighting, hanging these across the ceiling will further help to define where your part of the balcony starts and stops. I would hang them perpendicular to your railing, like in this example from Bower Power.
The last thing you need to finish off your space are some plants! I recently came across the project from Emily Henderson. I love the simple way she attached her pots, just by double (or triple) wrapping them with string. I think you could use this same method to attach some small pots to the inside of your railing. You could also put a couple of tension rods across the outside of your windows and hang pots from there!