Before and After: A Bare, Exposed Balcony Becomes a Cozy and Secluded Retreat

published May 26, 2021
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About this before & after
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Before: empty balcony with wood floor and stucco walls
Credit: Nicole Boyd

“The pandemic made me do it” was the universal renovation mantra of 2020. With more time at home, renters and owners alike were looking at their spaces with fresh eyes and realizing there were plenty of things they wanted to change — from a less open layout to a cozier bedroom.

Credit: Nicole Boyd

Nicole Boyd’s story is no different. She began working remotely last year due to COVID-19, with her standing desk facing out toward her balcony. While the sunlight was nice, the area lacked privacy, so it wasn’t an inviting place to hang out.

“Pandemic-blahs had me increasingly craving more bold amounts of color and plants everywhere,” Nicole says. “I decided that it was time to revamp the lanai, not only to improve my view while I was working, but also to serve as a relaxing and rejuvenating break area.”

Credit: Nicole Boyd

Luckily she shares her two-bedroom California townhouse with her partner Clay Barrett, who just so happens to be a licensed contractor. So together, they planned a redo that would give them more privacy (and more plants!) on their tiny balcony.

Credit: Nicole Boyd

Nicole and Clay’s balcony revamp only took three days to complete, and cost $1,500 for materials, not including the fountain, furniture, or decor. 

“I designed the project, but Clay definitely engineered it,” Nicole says. They started by lining the stucco walls with UV-resistant faux boxwood panels to add some greenery to the area, a simple project that “made a big visual impact,” Nicole says. Above that, they added a wood privacy fence that helped turn the open balcony into a secluded retreat.

Credit: Nicole Boyd

Aside from the privacy fence, the couple also added some cozy seating as well as Nicole’s dream: lots of plants on the balcony ledge, the floor, and on a new shelf. “I propagated most of the succulents out there myself, so of course I love those little guys,” she says.

Credit: Nicole Boyd

Tucked into the corner behind the cozy egg chair, Nicole also added a water feature that’s plugged into a remote-controlled outlet. “I can open the slider and turn on the soothing sounds of the fountain from my desk,” Nicole says. Dreamy!

Credit: Nicole Boyd

The final touch: replacing the old heavy drapes with sheer curtains that show off the gorgeous view. “You can’t help but notice that something really cool is happening out there,” Nicole says.

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