A Balcony With Dingy Green Carpet Was Upgraded from an “Unofficial Garage” to a Garden for $300

published Oct 8, 2022
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When my husband and I purchased our first condo in Los Angeles in 2020, there were many things we loved about the space — the cathedral ceilings, the natural light pouring in from floor-ceiling windows, and the kitchen were all highlights. Sure, the place had a balcony, too, but making it complement the rest of the space was something I did not have mental bandwidth for in 2020. The dingy green outdoor carpet coupled with strict HOA architectural guidelines led me to use the space as our unofficial garage for over a year. 

Like many condos and apartments, our balcony sits off the main living area, completely visible through glass sliding doors. As much as I tried to block it out, it was part of the space, and one of the first things you could see when entering our home. 

While taking out the green carpet wasn’t possible, a removable tile system we found at IKEA proved to be a viable workaround. The tiles rest in an interlocking base system that requires no grout. They can easily be picked up and moved around if desired, but feel firm under your feet. And, if for some reason you break a tile, it’s simple to swap them out. 

The tiles we selected come in boxes of nine ($49/box), and we purchased five boxes to have extra, just in case. If the pattern isn’t for you, IKEA has other options, including wood and turf tiles that run in the $35 range for the same amount.

We were thrilled to find the tiles, and had measured the green carpet area. The problem? We failed to include the six-inch tile bordering the carpet that serves as the entry to the balcony from the home. It also cannot be removed. 

If we wanted to cover it, we needed to add something under the rest of the tiles to make them level. If we started the flooring system on the other side of the tile, we had a different kind of gap of about six inches of green carpet — the very thing we were trying to hide. 

After running through a number of scenarios, we decided to avoid the leveling situation and instead placed the tiles to the side of the entry tile. To cover the gap of green carpet, we found another workaround, something I’d always wanted: a planter

To construct the planter, my husband purchased seven cedar fence planks ($3.50/plank), sawed off the dog-eared ends, and attached them together using metal corner braces. He lined the box with plastic sheeting before filling it with soil. Picking colorful flowers and the herbs we’d always talked about having onhand for cooking meals was a bright spot for us, and also for the birds that call our area home. 

Since we’ve planted the flowers, I’ve noticed an uptick in hummingbird activity that honestly seems like a bonus for finally having a space that looks and feels more like home — all for under $300.