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Before & After Makeover, Multiplied: One Balcony Refresh at Four Different Budgets

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Long-time Apartment Therapy readers might remember a little renovation diary series about The World’s Ugliest Condo — the affectionate title for my in-laws’ second home in Florida before I redid it for them several years ago. At the time, I shared the entire renovation process, but the one area we didn’t touch was the outdoor space. Until now.

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(Image credit: Dabney Frake)


The outdoor space was originally just so blah. And tan. And then more tan. Followed up by some tan. At some point we half-heartedly stuck a rug out there (can someone explain to me why we bought a tan rug?), found some rattan chairs on Craigslist, bought some side tables, threw some pillows on the chairs, and then called it a day. It’s pretty functional — if not the most comfortable place to hang out — but it needed some style. Here’s the background on the space:

  • The balcony itself is a little over 7’ x 9’ with a metal railing. It has sliding glass doors on two sides, and a storage closet at the far end.
  • Since it’s a condo, there’s not a lot we can do to change the actual structure or built-in features — those are governed by the condo board with strict standards. So any changes have to be temporary and reversible — a familiar problem for renters as well. So no painting, or new tile, etc…
  • It’s a great view from inside the condo as well, so anything that’s out there shouldn’t have a huge visual footprint and block inside enjoyment.
  • Doors open onto the balcony from the two walls on the near end, so that area needed to remain open and passable.
  • The good part is that the patio is covered and has a hurricane shutter (basically a garage door for your windows), which means the space doesn’t get wet from rain, and any decor doesn’t need to be brought in when the condo isn’t being used.
  • Between the in-laws and other family, the place gets used pretty regularly. But since it is a second home, and goes without an occupant for stretches of time, no plants could survive the neglect. This means I couldn’t make use of nature’s best decorative filler.

Click to see each makeover then vote for which version you think is best!