One Room Challenge

Before and After: 5 Renter-Friendly DIYs Gave This Small Balcony a Stylish New Look

published Jun 2, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
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Rental Friendly
View from balcony before renovation.
Credit: Erin DeCarlo

Just because your space is small doesn’t mean there’s not room for a DIY project or two. In fact, there’s room enough in a measly 1 square foot for some very clever DIY projects! On Erin DeCarlo’s approximately 58-square-foot balcony, she managed to squeeze in five projects to liven up the once-boring balcony — and best of all, they’re all renter-friendly

Credit: Erin DeCarlo

“We moved into this apartment about one year ago and never really got around to putting time and effort into the balcony,” Erin, who blogs at Pattern and Paste, shares. “Overall, this was not a space my husband and I wanted to hang out in.” 

Credit: Erin DeCarlo

Before the transformation, the apartment balcony felt overwhelmingly brown and slightly dingy. “The floor was plain wood planks, and a lot of the items on our deck were not weather-proofed properly so the side table, for example, was water damaged and discolored,” Erin says. As part of the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, Erin completed a series of projects to spruce the outdoor space up to make it more of an oasis. 

Credit: Erin DeCarlo

“I wanted to create a space we would enjoy reading a book in or a place we could have a cup of coffee in the morning,” Erin says. “The rest of our apartment is well-decorated and really reflects our personalities, so the balcony felt like the last space we needed to work on in order to truly make this space feel like home.”

Erin started out by upgrading the flooring with beige snap-together tiles to brighten the place up. “Because I cannot make any permanent changes to my apartment, I needed to find a flooring solution that I could easily remove once we eventually move out,” Erin explains on her blog. “After some research, I decided to use RUNNEN outdoor floor tiles from IKEA, but you can also find similar tiles at other home improvement stores.” Erin cut her tiles to fit her 5×11.5-foot dimensions with a hacksaw (what she had available in her apartment), but she says the process would likely be even easier and faster with a larger saw. 

Her second project was making a no-sew dog bed and pillows to make sure the patio could be enjoyed by everyone in the family — adorable pup included. (She used fabric glue, pet bed poly-fil, and a boho blue and white fabric for this.) 

Credit: Erin DeCarlo

Third on the list was the upcycled coffee table. Erin cleaned the faded table from before, spray-painted it with metallic paints, and weatherproofed it. She says she and her husband were originally planning to trash the table, and she’s glad they didn’t. “It feels like a one-of-a-kind item I couldn’t just find in a store, and it’s exactly what I pictured,” she adds.

Next was the DIY chandelier, which Erin fashioned from a boho basket (also from IKEA). “I took a wicker basket and removed the handles; then, I used a remote-controlled, battery- operated puck light, so no electrical wiring was needed,” Erin explains. She affixed it to the ceiling with macrame rope and an outdoor-friendly command hook, which, as it turns out, is easier said than done.

“After making the lantern, I realized that the ceiling of our balcony was very high up so it would be very difficult to hang it,” Erin says. “Ultimately, it took my 6’2″ husband, a step ladder, and a claw tool to put a Command hook up to hang.” 

Credit: Erin DeCarlo

The final DIY detail in the space is the macrame plant hanger, which, conversely, was easier to make than expected. “I’ve done a few macrame projects previously, and I was expecting this to be more complicated than it turned out to be,” she says. “After watching several tutorial videos, I was able to create my own version of a macrame plant hanger that only took about 10 minutes to make.” She hung it on her siding for a bit of wall decor that draws the eye upward. A couple of hanging potted plants and some string lights later, Erin had a complete, incredibly cozy balcony. 

“I love how calming the ‘after’ space feels,” Erin says. “It’s now a space I would actually love to sit in. I also love how much brighter the space feels. Before, it was a bunch of bland and dark brown tones … it now feels much brighter and more inviting.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.