Home of Beth and Chris Collier, Photograph by Patricia Lyons for Garden & Gun

Home of Beth and Chris CollierPhotograph by Patricia Lyons for Garden & Gun

Saving Summer: A Balcony Makeover

(This is a post about a balcony makeover.  I promise.  But first…)

I once played bass guitar in a band that opened for a band named Saving Summer.  Long story.  But the highlights are: I wore a sequin shirt and cut-off jeans, and I learned to play bass that day, and haven’t played bass since.  Oh, and I also sung some 80’s power-ballad falsetto back-up vocals.  100% true story.

But that’s not what this post is about.  Nope.  I was just reminded of that occasion because of the words “saving summer”.  However, in this case I’m referring to saving up every ounce of summer I can before the cold winds blow and the snow flies.  So to do that I finally did something with our teeny-tiny scrungy apartment balcony.  (Still need to sand an paint the railing though…)

You see this?

and this?

Yucky.  Especially this part:

And while Little M likes to hang out on the balcony and yell “hi!” to “the guys” (that’s what he calls the older children who play in the courtyard), it’s not been the nicest place to hang out.  So I decided to work on it a bit.

Doing a balcony makeover in late August may seem a bit behind the times, but give me a break people - I had a baby in July!  And I also discovered that it’s the exactly right time to do it: outdoor furniture and gardening supplies are on clearance, and it turns out late summer is the perfect time to transplant perrenials, like I did!  And it gives me the chance to save up every last bit of summer.  Like a summer chipmunk.  (Summer chipmunk?!?  Sorry dudes.  Notta’ lotta’ sleep these days, so I get a bit punchy.)

So here’s the run-down.  It started with this chair: (Wait!  It actually started with cleaning everything - sweeping cobwebs and dirt, scrubbing the BBQ, washing the walls… but that’s boring.  So let’s start with the chair.)

It’s a director’s chair I bought on UsedRegina for $10.  My plan was to spray paint it and re-cover it in an outdoor fabric, following this tutorial from Chez Larsson.  But we picked up the chair and the wood looked great, and the fabric was already outdoor friendly (and sidewalk chalk wipes off like a dream.  I know.  Little M and I tried.)  So I kept it as-is.  But then I had already purchased my outdoor fabric (because I get a little trigger-happy when it comes to buying fabric…) and wanted to use it.

So I picked up a couple of ugly patio seat cushions on clearance from Canadian Tire and recovered them in my pretty quatrefoil fabric.  These can fit nicely on the chair, or Little M can sit on them on the balcony when he’s reading, playing his drum (he does that.  It’s cute), or yelling (nicely) at “the guys”.

Then there’s the issue of the mega-ugly air conditioning unit.  It’s big, old, and was covered with chunks of caulking and stryofoam (from past attempts at insulating it, I think).  So I scraped off the gunk, cleaned it all up, and spray painted it white.  SOOO much nicer!  Then I decided to make it useful.  I concocted a “shelf”:

Using a cheapy shelf from IKEA that we’d bought long ago and never used, and a decorative stair-tread-thingie (You’ll note I speak in very technical terms.  They love me at Home Depot), I spray painted them blue to go with the fabric and placed them on the air conditioning unit. 

Ta-DAH!!  Useful space!  For a tea light, a cup of chai, or maybe a plant!  Hmmm… a plant…

Turns out you can buy plants on UsedRegina.  Cool, eh?  People with extra (or multiplying) perrenials sell their extras to beginners like me.  I bought some Lily of the Valley plants from a very nice lady for $2.  Now, my green thumb is completely untested.  But my prediction is that it’s not very green.  I clicked on “Lily of the Valley for sale” because I thought “Ooh!  Those are pretty!” Not because I had any clue about the plant.  Turns out they need mostly shade (our balcony faces east.  Check.), and should be transplanted in late summer/early fall (Check.)  Sweet.  However I planted them with my two-year-old.  And I knew little more than he did on the process.  (Put plant in dirt.  water.  done.  right?)  So we’ll see next spring if they come back and flower.

I picked up the planter at Wal-Mart on clearance.  And I really like it.  So if the plant dies I’ll use it for something else. (Hmm… maybe a lamp?)  And the carpet is one I picked up at Canadian Tire.  (It’s just a simple brown mat, but it ties in with the wood on the chair frame, and is lovely underfoot.)

Finally, I wanted some mood lighting for when I’m sitting out there in the late evening. 

I still had the Knappa pendant fixture that used to hang in the nursery (but was replaced it with this DIY chandelier).  I figured its plastic frame should stand up to the outdoor elements, but didn’t think the cord/bulb would. 

So I placed a bunch of Christmas lights inside and now it’s a cool, weather-durable outdoor light!  Hooray!

So there it is.  My new favourite spot for early mornings, summer evenings and moments in between!

Lofty Dreams - lots of white would balance out the wooden floors, beams, and brick.

Lofty Dreams - lots of white would balance out the wooden floors, beams, and brick.