HEY, HI, HELLO. Gonna be really earnest for a second – I’m very nervous (and honestly, a little insecure!) about today’s reveal. Here’s the thing: back in June, Jess and I embarked on a race to finish our balconies. And Jess, well, she KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE FREAKIN’ PARK. Her space is elevated and magazine-worthy and high-end and luxurious and my apartment…it’s just different, you know? Like, Jess’ view is of a stunning clear blue sky and treetops and flowers and my view is of, uh, a drive-thru, a major road, and a car wash. Jackpot, baby!!!
And, I mean, you’re on the internet. You read design blogs. I can’t be alone in this self-imposed comparison, right? I think the sentiment’s gotta be pretty pervasive – like, my space should look JUST like that, even though our homes are completely different – and even though I technically have a microphone, I am by no means immune!!! But all that said, when I get out of my head, I built a functional, practical, cohesive space that makes me really happy. It fits my needs and it fits my friends (speaking of friends…I hope you’ll like those shots at the bottom :)) and at the end of the day, that’s all a girl can ask for. I didn’t reinvent the wheel here, but I think that’s okay. Let me remind you of where I started…
Welcome to my tiny outdoor prison! It is simultaneously charming and bizarre. On one hand, I’m very lucky to have an outdoor space. On the other hand, WHY ARE THESE BARS LIKE THIS? I lived with this sparse configuration – a bunch of succulents still in their planter pots, arranged in an attempt to gain a modicum of privacy, paired with this lone vintage IKEA chair – for almost two years.
And I mean, it was fine. But also, it wasn’t. Somehow, every. single. man. I had ever deemed worthy of coming to my apartment always made an immediate beeline for the balcony. “Woah, you have an outdoor space,” they’d proclaim. “Let’s sit here and people watch,” they’d continue. I, however, did not want to sit out on the balcony. I did not want to people watch. I did not want to awkwardly haul out a random stool/dining chair/pouf so we could both sit on opposite ends of this 10′ x 4′ space. NO BUENO.
I tell you this because the desire to actually work on this weird little space was sparked by one of those aforementioned men. (Alternatively: I tell you this because I kiiiind of treat the blog like my own personal diary at this point. Y’all know me better than anyone I know in real life!!!) ANYWAY. This man came over to make dinner and upon plating, his lone sentiment was basically like, “hey, your apartment is a million degrees right now, do you think we could sit outside so I do not feel like I’m boiling on the surface of the sun?”
And guys, THAT WAS MY INSPIRATION MOMENT. If this guy could figure out how to make soft pretzels from scratch WHILE MY OVEN WAS BROKEN (true story; the soft pretzels were my request; my pilot light was shot; he fried them, I think??? They were amazing!), I could buy a bistro set. Or at least another outdoor chair. I could make an effort, you know?
It got my wheels turning a little bit. Why not also grab some outdoor curtains, while I’m at it, so I could try to enjoy a sliver of privacy? I’d been catcalled previously by random dudes standing in the Jack in the Box parking lot next to my house, and I dreamed of *not* making distant eye contact with strangers when I’m just trying to water plants or read books. Plus, it’d be pretty nice to not feel like I’m staring down and directly at my neighbors while they cleaned their cars or garages. The race with Jess was exactly what I needed to take this space from, well, nothing, to kind of functional. Which brings us to now…ARE YOU READY?
I’M NOT. We’re staying inside for a second. Sorry for the tease, but I have an important announcement to make!!! I don’t think I’ve ever formally introduced her on the blog, but this is Buffalo! (Known aliases: “Fluffabo,” “the littlest lady in the whole world,” “tumbleweed generator,” et al.) I adopted her during an impromptu shelter trip almost a decade ago – she was scheduled to be put down at the end of the day after being returned twice – and she has repaid me by permanently attaching herself to my person at all times. She is essentially a dog in a cat’s body (down to the whole “I will sit in the window and stare at the street until my owner returns, at which point I will greet them in a celebratory fashion”) and I love her very much. OK ENOUGH ABOUT CATS. (…unless you wanna talk more in the comments???) DESIGN TIME.
First: the curtains. You see those little guys there in the background? GAME. CHANGER. They were my jumping-off point for the space, seeing as I wanted to hide the fact that the balcony could be listed on Peerspace as a prison backdrop. Plus, I figured that the black stripes were a fun and graphic way to play into the whole black iron bar thing. If you can’t fix it, feature it! 🙂 Added bonus: by putting my curtains outside, I’ve eschewed indoor curtains. I love my wall of windows (and I love all the work that my wallpaper installer did to fit paper into the tiniest nooks and crannies!), so I didn’t want to cover up any piece of it. Putting my window treatments outside means that I get to enjoy my dining room in all its wallpapered glory. 🙂
Originally, I bought some cheap striped curtain panels from Overstock but the quality was ROUGH, they were basically gauze, and the print was only on one side. I was really disappointed and reached out to Ballard Design on a whim because they carried the high-quality Sunbrella curtains that I really wanted to use. It’s always kind of weird and nerve-wracking asking a business for help (“SOS, I’m on a deadline, I would save up and buy these under any other circumstance, I swear!”), but I was SO EXCITED when they were like, “yeah, girl, we got you!” WHAT A DREAM, RIGHT?
I ended up grabbing 4 of these 96″ Sunbrella panels to fit my 10′ space and WOW. WOWEE. HOORAY. I love them very, very much. They have the perfect amount of light filtering for me (not blackout, not sheer – just right!) and they’re weighted, so they stay in place (even during those CRAZY windstorms we’ve been having here in LA lately). I’m so happy with them aesthetically, but I also love them for temperature control reasons – they kept my balcony cooler during the summer days, and they help keep it a little toastier now that it’s freezing (or, uh, 65 degrees) outside. If you have any type of outdoor space with a ceiling or two solid walls, I cannot recommend curtains enough – I’m a lifer now. (PS. I hung them with a tension rod which I do not recommend – if I did this all again, I’d buy an actual curtain rod. The one I got was like $50 but it’s also bowing, so I’m gonna have to get a real rod soon. Learn from my mistakes!)
THAT’S NOT IT – we got a bistro set, to boot! I grabbed this brass table from CB2 on sale and it’s a great size for the space (only about 2′ wide). I love the way it reflects light in the afternoon – you can kind of see it in the earlier photos! – but man, it’s a pain to keep clean. It’s kind of textured so it traps dirt and dust like nobody’s business and the finish gets kind of wonky if you don’t clean up spills immediately. (Case in point: the base of this table may or may not have seen its fair share of, uh, burrito content spills over the past four months, and you can kind of tell.) All that said, the pros outweigh the cons for me – I’d buy it again in a heartbeat (and at full price, too, which is saying something!). If you’re in need of a petite statement table, this one is a slam dunk.
The chairs from Target are great, too. They’re super narrow – only 14″ wide, I think – but they feel like a great size and scale for the space. They come in sets of two, they’re super affordable (only $125 for the pair!) and they’re SO easy to clean. I got the matte black version, but there are a ton of color options available. I’ve sat in that back chair for almost every meal for the past 4 months and it’s been such a treat – I wish I had set something up out here sooner. For what it’s worth, you can often find this table and these chairs on Facebook Marketplace if you’re open to waiting and looking to save a little 🙂
HOW GOOD IS THAT PITCHER? It’s not mine, but I wish it was. It’s the Wave Pitcher by Sophie Lou Jacobson and I straight up screamed when Bowser pulled it out – she had purchased it for a different project but joked that it was probably destined to end up styling this space. The price tag is no joke but it’s so special and statement-y and beautiful (plus, it feels amazing to hold). Someday I, too, will own a wave pitcher. JUST YOU WAIT.
I love those plates and bowls, too. They’re from Justina Blakeney’s recent Target drop and they’re so weird and fun and graphic. There were five people present at my house for this shoot (me, Sara, Bowser, Mal, and Erik) and three of us had already purchased the full set of this style – there were serving dishes and big bowls, too, but I think they sold out! – which is so fun. I was kind of shocked by how weighty they felt and I can’t wait to layer them with my vintage dinnerware moving forward.
I’ve been swooning over those 70s-style stackable glasses for months, too. They’re Bowser’s – we sourced them early in the summer from Food52 for the PRESS Seltzer shoot – and again, I basically yawped when I spotted them in her huge trunk of glassware. (All of my glassware is either pink or shaped like an ice cream cone, which is why she had to bring her full #styliststash.)
But now, I wanna talk about two things I love and one thing I, uh, DO NOT CARE FOR. (It’s a wild feeling to put your house on the internet while you’re like, “by the way, I’M NOT HAPPY WITH IT YET!!!”) On the bright side: I absolutely love my boxwood topiary. It’s silly and graphic and bold, but it’s also kind of timeless and bougie (annnnnd I have a little bit of a thing for topiaries, in case you haven’t noticed :)). It slid right into an old pot I had and it makes me smile every time I look out the window.
I’m also a huge fan of that rattan mirror from Studio McGee’s Target line. It’s on a northern facing wall and the construction of my building kind of prevents it from getting any direct sun, but it’s just a really fun addition to the space. I especially love it at night time when the curtains are drawn – I have a vintage amber globe ceiling light (it was on for this whole shoot, oops!) and that soft light reflected in this mirror just makes the whole space seem so warm and cozy. Plus, it does a great job of reflecting the texture of the loveseat I ended up grabbing for the space 🙂
And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for – the one thing I don’t love…is…THIS. FREAKING. RUNNER. I like it a lot in theory – and it was SUPER affordable and the black border-meets-jute thing kind of in line with the whole “classic Beverly Hills Hotel/regency” vibe – but geez, it looks like it’s been through a war after four months of pretty gentle use. Long term, I’d like to find something a little wider (but it needs to have an ultra-low pile to allow for door clearance, which is tough for outdoor rugs!) that’s a little more vibrant, but for now, this works. It keeps my feet from rubbin’ straight on my weird tile and I’ll take it. Finished is better than perfect, right? (Not linking because you shouldn’t buy it. Would love any outdoor runner recs if you have one to share!)
Which brings us to the other side of the room. I had originally planned to use a Serena & Lily’s rattan hanging chair in this space – and TBH, I think it would have filled up the vertical space in such a dreamy way – but my practical side ended up falling in love with this cheap little rattan loveseat on Facebook Marketplace. (And my tiny pothos will do for now – I can’t wait to see it grow and fill out that space even more!)
This loveseat comfortably seats two (for those folks keeping track: we have officially quadrupled the amount of seating on this balcony!!!) and it’s my favorite place to lounge in the whole house. I usually stack up those pillows on the right hand side, closest to my window, and I prop my feet up on the bars when I’m doing some morning journaling. It’s just such a great, comfy place to watch the sun rise. (WHO AM I? Full disclosure: I am not nearly as goop-y as that made me sound, although I kind of wish I was!)
SPEAKING OF PILLOWS. GUYS. I went all Sunbrella here – I, too, was #emfluenced by Em’s outdoor space at the mountain house – and I could not be more jazzed. I bought both of these pillows from an Etsy shop named OneHappyPillow and they are the BEST. The quality is top-notch (look at the piping! Immaculate!) and they’ve held up like an absolute dream over the past four months. Leana is such a kind and lovely person, too, and she sells all kinds of indoor and outdoor pillows. 10000/10, support this small Pennsylvania-based business!
And you see that cushion? IT’S INCREDIBLE. The loveseat came naked, so I was delighted when I found a Sunbrella bench cushion in the perfect size at Ballard Design. (They have everything!!!) I originally was a little nervous about going white – I mean, you saw how grimey my table got, and that’s metal! – but this fabric RULES, GUYS. It wipes up like a dream (I’ll have to post something on my IG stories later – I just take a wet towel to the cushion and any dirt buildup slides right off! Magic!)- and I feel SO CONFIDENT bringing food out here. I always thought that fabric could be either stain repellant or good in sunlight, but this somehow does both. The hype is real and well-earned! I grabbed a bunch of samples for my interior upholstery after seeing how great this stands up to the elements (including tiny kitty claws! How???) and I’ll be reupholstering my dining furniture in Sunbrella now, too. THANK YOU BALLARD. You made my white bench seat dreams come true. (PS. That blanket is Bowser’s, because of course it is. It’s so beautiful!)
And how could I not sing the praises of this little tiny ceramic end table? I searched for a while to find something so petite and this one fit the bill perfectly. It’s about 11″ at its widest point and it has the best light enough to move:heavy enough to be sturdy ratio. Plus, in a pinch, it can double as a FIFTH SEAT. Can you even believe it? We went from one seat option to FIVE. I should invite all my ex boyfriends and failed-talking-phase-dates back to celebrate!!!! As a side note, that is my actual work notebook – Bowser grabbed it off my desk for styling purposes – and I love it so much. I am a longtime Papier loyalist and their notebooks are worth every penny. I get all mine with the dotted paper layout and I can’t recommend them enough.
Bonus: I love that photo on the right because that’s really how it feels to be sitting in the space, you know? Like, you can kind of imagine what it’s like to slide that curtain all the way shut. It’s a nice, calm little respite away from the people screaming as they order Munchie Meals in the middle of the night.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. Here I am, enjoying a totally normal continental breakfast for two on my lonesome in the middle of the day. I’m never sitting here in a sports bra, ripping open some tin foil and devouring an 11 PM burrito with the curtains closed. NO NO NO. Not here!!! Styled-out-balcony-Caitlin pours filtered water (never Coke Zero!!!) straight from her beautiful $215 pitcher into beautiful, normal glasses that she definitely already owns. HA. Let me show you what this space ACTUALLY looks like when in use…
MUCH BETTER. And much more realistic, TBH. My goal was to make a space to enjoy with others and to that end, I guess I can proudly proclaim MISSION ACHIEVED. My balcony may overlook a lot of concrete (plus a road that would constitute a highway in a lot of tiny states) and she may not have all the glamour and flash of those Pasadena palm treetops, buuuuut she’s been host to lots of laughs, lots of joy, and SO many beautiful people over the last few months. (Like, CAN YOU BELIEVE THESE ARE MY FRIENDS AND NOT ACTUAL MODELS? Someone book Erik and Mal for a commercial ASAP!)
And I guess that’s where I’ll leave ya – my practical, functional, 5x improved balcony. There’s room to grow and there’s room for improvement but most importantly, there’s finally room for all the people I love. (Or for the people who, uh, you know, wanna come to my house and make soft pretzels.) Hope you all have the best weekend enjoying October with the folks who make you smile – I know where I’ll be 🙂 xx