Before and After: A Tiny Gray Balcony Becomes a Go-To Cozy Spot After a $50 Redo

published Oct 16, 2023
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Outdoor spaces, whether they’re sweeping vistas, small patches of grass, or even small balconies, can be incredibly relaxing places to spend time. It might just take a little bit of work to get there. Here’s how Rika Nurjanah (@irisnest) made her balcony (measuring about 6 1/2 by 2 1/2 feet) into a small but relaxing space. 

“Our balcony was very dull with dark gray ceramic flooring and iron railings, in contrast to the beautiful sunset view, which was one of the reasons we purchased this apartment,” Rika says of the before. “We wanted a balcony that was pleasant to look at from inside, which would complement the view and give us a relaxing feeling when gazing out.”

She envisioned a space to chat, read books, sip a cup of coffee, or just enjoy the view, but still, she only had a little over 16 square feet to work with. Rika says a few changes made a big difference.

New decking looks more luxe.

“We began this project by searching for the right material to cover the existing ceramic floor,” Rika says. She and her husband, Irvan, went with a teak wood option.

“Because it’s made from genuine wood, it has a more natural appearance, and teak wood offers many advantages, including its resistance to all types of weather, especially the intense tropical sun and heavy rain that often occurs in the region,” Rika says. Plus, it’s durable, termite-resistant, and doesn’t require a ton of maintenance. 

Pebbles around the perimeter help with drainage. 

In addition to the decking, Rika and Irvan covered part of the ceramic balcony floor near the railing with aesthetically pleasing pebbles (about 22 pounds’ worth of white coral stones). The chic upgrade is functional, too. “Rainwater that enters the balcony or leftover water from watering plants can flow smoothly into the drainage system,” Rika explains. 

Her plants, by the way, are pothos, spider plants, snake plants, and monstera, and they bring a pop of green — plus some relaxing vibes — to the balcony. “Because our balcony is situated on a relatively high floor with high sunlight exposure and strong winds, we chose resilient plants,” Rika says. 

The $5 floor cushions are small-space-friendly. 

Because the balcony is tiny, there’s not a ton of room for seating, but a few cushions (STAGSTARRs from IKEA) do the trick when Rika or Irvan want to get a bit of fresh air from the 15th floor. The cushions can tuck away inside easily and have washable covers for when they’ve seen too much time outside — and best yet, they ring up at about $5 apiece. 

In fact, Rika estimates that her entire balcony redo only cost about $50. In other words, she created a relaxing new vibe on a dime. “I love how inviting the ‘after’ space feels,” she says.  “Now we often spend time sitting, chatting, and enjoying the city view on our balcony, especially in the evenings. It’s one of our favorite activities at home.”