My Great Outdoors: Vanessa's Soothing View

My Great Outdoors: Vanessa's Soothing View

Gregory Han
Jun 9, 2009
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Name: Vanessa

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Type of space: Condo balcony

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: When I moved into my condo, the grey 70's era balcony was beyond dismal. I thought, "This is the sort of place where squirrels come to do drug deals." I have a huge sliding glass door that is the focal point of my living room, and I wanted a soothing view and a place to grow hot peppers and herbs.

Now I have serrano peppers, garlic chives, and thai basil whenever I need it for cooking, and since living in Southern California allows for a fluid mix of inside/outside spaces, the balcony makeover blends well with the mid-century and antique furniture inside my home.

How did you create it? Creating the walls was a simple carpentry project: I bought redwood slats from The Home Depot, and after measuring twice (best advice ever for someone like me who is numerically challenged), I finally got to put my most awesome Christmas gift - a circular saw - to good use. Then, after applying 3 coats of wood stain (Behr waterproofing deck stain #5-77 applied with a rag which is much easier and achieves a more even looking result than a brush), I used deck screws and a screw gun to attach the slats to back support struts.

A trick I used to keep the spacing even between the wood while screwing into vertical supports was to place a CD jewel case at each end between the slats. Worked like a charm!
To finish it off, I stained the floor tiles the same color as the walls to unify the wood elements and put a 1" pine shelf for the plants on skinny cinder blocks (spray painted a matte black so they all but disappear).
Since I live in a condo complex, and my condo association has rules about altering the deck, I built the walls to wedge one another in, eliminating the need to screw the walls into the balcony. The shelf with plants help hold everything in place as well.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? The flooring, galvanized planters, and candle lantern are all from IKEA. I like to shop at IKEA for outdoor elements; it's all so affordable, and I love the industrial simplicity of galvanized metal. All the raw wood, plants and stain came from The Home Depot.

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