This year is the year of apartment renovations for us! First on the list was our balcony.
Our balcony is quite large, about 45 square feet. In previous years, I’ve never done much with it. We had a few flower boxes, some black mats on the ground, and a few folding camping chairs. We also used to use it for storage — my bike, our garbage and recycles, tires in the winter. Generally, it felt like wasted space. The railings were very rusted, and a drab beige colour. I was never very motivated to do anything with it, partially because it felt gross, and partially because I could never justify spending money on a place that was “temporary.” Over time, that feeling of temporary has faded, and we realized that after four years we aren’t going anywhere new anytime soon. So I decided to invest a bit of time and money into making our outdoor space happy, inspiring, and liveable.
Last year, I tried planting some simple herbs for the first time; this year, I decided to get serious and do some real vegetable container gardening! To fuel my motivation, I even took a workshop on organic balcony gardening through one of our local CSAs, Fresh City Farms. But first, I needed to clean up the rust and ugly.
I bought some rust-sealing spray paint to cover the worst spots. I started out by cleaning with a wire brush, but OH MY — I just found more and more layers of rust and paint and gross. I gave up and just covered it really well with the spray, to seal it in. For the rest of the balcony, I painted it with a non-toxic outdoor acrylic paint. Huge, immediate improvement!
Once I had dried two coats of paint, I got to work on the rest. I decided to go with interlocking decking for the floor. It’s easy to put together, and is totally reusable for when we move somewhere else.
I replaced my old grungy window boxes with some brightly coloured ones from IKEA. I wanted this outdoor space to be bright and happy, ALL THE TIME! Even at night, when it’s lit by a string of rainbow icicle lights I already had.
For my plants, I got to work finding various seedlings. I figure, this year I’ll see which plants yield the best, so I can focus on what works best for next year. I started with: kale, green onion, Romaine, green leaf lettuce, celery, green peppers, red peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, concord grapes. The kale, green onion, and romaine have already failed, but everything else seems to be growing quite well so far! My first few strawberries have been deee-licious!
I decided to purchase some new furniture, including a Zero Gravity chairs (SO COMFY), a small table, and some extra folding chairs for company. I also got some stackable shoe racks to use as a plant stand/for gardening supplies. I will admit that I went a little over my planned budget on furniture, but since all the things will be able to travel with us and be repurposed when we move, I’m okay with it.
In the end, I’m so incredibly happy with how things turned out. The white paint alone makes a huge difference, and we now spend lots of time outside. I’ve even spent a few days working from home reclined in my chair, which is fantastic. Matt works from home, and spends time outside with the kitties daily. And since our neighbourhood is a hotbed of activities in the summertime, we can now comfortably sit outside and enjoy the sounds of music playing in the park during the festivals, when we don’t have the time or inclination to venture out into the crowds.
Renovation Budget: $350
- IKEA decking – $100
- Rust paint, acrylic paint and supplies – $30
- Plants – $35
- Containers, pots – $40
- Soil, fertilizer, supports – $32
- Zero Gravity Chair – $49
- Turquoise table – $18
- IKEA TÄRNÖ chairs – $30
- Seville stackable shoe racks – $42