Before and After: $330 and a Lucky Find Later, a Once-Filthy Balcony Looks Brand New

published Apr 15, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
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Rental Friendly
Grey balcony before renovation.

When the trees begin to bloom, the sun comes out on a more regular basis, and the tulips pop up from the ground, you’ll start to notice other things, too: power washers being wheeled out, mulch bags being purchased, and patio chairs getting rinsed off. In other words, warmer weather begets outdoor space refreshes.

As for the outdoor space that came with Christin Köppen’s (@ck.professional.organizing) apartment, it needed a little bit more than TLC. “The balcony was completely neglected,” she says. “It had possibly never been touched. It looked just like a depressing brown-gray dark hole.”

Christin’s apartment was recently renovated, but the small balcony space was left untouched, which was a disappointment because “this is the first time I’m living in an apartment with a balcony,” Christin shares. “So that was very exciting.”

Last March, she asked her landlord for permission to paint the concrete balcony and was fairly certain she’d get a yes since her neighbors had already painted theirs. Once she got the OK, she cleaned the balcony, bought a bright white paint, and got to work. 

“I would describe my personal interior (and apparently outdoor) style as ‘soft minimalism,’” Christin says. “So I opted for a classical, timeless white facade paint to lighten up the space. After taping off the corners and edges and door frame, two coats of paint went on.”

Christin says she underestimated the amount of paint it would take to cover the balcony, so she had to run to the hardware store between coats to buy another bucket of paint. To avoid the same mistake, it’s helpful to consult a paint calculator to figure out how much paint you’ll need for a particular project.

“Next I put down the wooden outdoor flooring by IKEA, which luckily fit the space pretty perfectly,” Christin says. She chose flower boxes in a dark gray so they would blend in with balcony railing, and she researched herbs that would grow on a north-facing balcony. (If you’re inspired by Christin and looking to start your own herb garden, check out this starter pack.) 

“I was indeed able to grow and keep alive small batches of parsley, arugula, basil, mint, a clematis with beautiful purple blossoms, and a small pot of hydrangeas,” Christin says.

She finished off her space with decor: solar-powered string lights, lanterns, and a vintage chair. “The ‘hardest part,’ if you want to call it that, was actually finding the right chair,” Christin says. (She’d hoped to find something like her neighbor’s cool vintage chair.) She searched for several months and eventually stumbled upon one when she was just walking around. “I saw some guys who had a kind of pop-up furniture sale,” she says. “I looked through their stuff, and there it was! After a little negotiating, they sold it to me for 30€ [about $33 USD], and I brought it home on the subway.”

Christin’s cozy touches make her small piece of outdoor space a lot more welcoming, and she did it all for around 300€, or $332 USD. 

“In the summertime, I like to walk out many mornings, just for a moment, to look after the herbs and flowers and to enjoy them,” Christin says. “Every time I look at the balcony from the inside, I’m just so happy that it’s a light and bright space now.”

Her advice: “Do it if your landlord allows it,” Christin says. “And they should, I mean what an upgrade to the space!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.