My co-dependant relationship/design support with/from Caitlin Higgins has for the millionth time paid off. I, Jessica A. Bunge, designed and photographed a sure, “tiny” balcony, but an entire balcony nonetheless in under two months. Does that sound impressive? Not really. Did I finish by the 7/20 deadline?? Almost. But as someone who has a history of overthinking every last detail of every design decision in her life (because isn’t there always a way to make it cooler?), potentially prolonging the design process, this is nothing short of the beautiful, Parisian-inspired miracle.
But let’s start at the beginning dun, dun, dunnnnn…
So much potential but also VERY daunting at first sight. How was I going to make this functional and beautiful? Could I even have a table and chairs with that comical width? How was I going to cover that flooring? Well, I was determined and came up with a plan…man.
I wanted to show these photos to remind you of how wildly skinny my balcony is. And what is even WILDER is that it’s not original to the building. I KNOW. They couldn’t have spared a couple more feet???? Maybe they felt it in their bones that I would live here one day and thought, “You know what Jess needs? A real hard design challenge. A long 30″ x 20′ balcony it is! “Well, balcony builders, challenge accepted.
Welcome to Paris-adena, France:)
My love for these windows only rivals my love for my living room turret window. In typical Jess/Libra fashion I simply can’t choose a favorite so won’t. However, waking up to these beautiful gals may or may not make me feel like a princess every day. Something I never thought I needed… I’d like to think I’m not very “princessy” but dammit it feels good.
Side note: These are my old IKEA curtains and while I love a romantic “puddle” I might go for more of a “kiss” when I finally design my bedroom. So another stay tuned. 2022 is going to be exciting because I’m going to finish my entire apartment if it kills me:) But fear not, the living room will happen this year. These covid delays are just still very real.
Oof I love this view and everything in it. Having a ton of texture out there was really important to me. I wanted lots of plants, patterns, and materials. To get that I just used all the knowledge I learned from Em. I chose a color palette, made sure I varied the tones of those colors, mixed up pattern scales, chose different but complementary materials, and added in some very delicious wine. That’s the actual key to any great design. Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
Woven Planter (with sweet lavender)
While I hate choosing favorites, this planter is easily top three…or two…or one. The woven texture is so good, the simple lines of the black wire adds quiet contrast, and then those sweet little legs with the ball feet really modernize it. Basically, it’s perfect and fun fact, it’s also pretty affordable. Also how stunning is that sweet lavender?? Heart, be still.
Another fun fact: After Caitlin and I bought not one but TWO sets of “friendship chairs,” she found this PERFECT patio set on her Nextdoor app area for $150. I nearly blacked out when I saw it. Messages were sent and off I was to the west side for my perfect patio match.
In case you were wondering what “friendship chairs” or “friendship furniture” are, it’s when you buy a set of say, four chairs and you split them financially and physically in half with your preferred friend. My preferred friendship furniture friend will forever and always be Caitlin. To date, we’ve split two sets of four chairs. Only time will tell how many more are in our future. Maybe for our next and hopefully slightly larger homes, we will move up to a set of eight.
So not only would I have given her my firstborn for finding this set had she asked, but this tip was also 3 days before our 7/20 deadline. She was practically handing me the win! FYI no one actually won but we were both super close. O and as a thank you, I gave her my two chairs from our first set of friendship chairs since she loved them so much and I not longer had a place for them. Fair is fair.
Seat Cushion Cover + Cushion Insert | Throw Blanket
THOSE ARMS! And that floor might I add:) But no, we are still talking about the patio set. Now while this is the set of my dreams, it needed some cushion for long warm nights of talking with friends about important stuff like vintage patio furniture. So I ordered two sets of cushions like a normal person. One I ordered from Etsy with the hopeful promise of maaaybe getting here by the shoot date. No dice. The others are from IKEA. And honestly, after I cut off the black bungee straps that are supposed to secure the cushions to the seat, they turned out pretty darn chic. Both sets were super affordable.
But butts weren’t my only concern. These chairs are iron (can you tell?) and the backs are also hard. So I headed over to Target and found these perfectly patterned throw blankets to drape over the backs. Instant comfort that packs a lot of style. What’s also great is that I can easily take them off when I’m not using them (they aren’t meant for outdoors sadly) and marvel at the perfect ironwork of the chairs through my windows.
Plastic Wine Glasses | Striped Marble Board (similar) | Wine | Bullet Planter (vintage with twinklebells red) | Lantern
Now let’s drink. I’m a real wine lover so naturally, I wanted a great (and cool looking) bottle of natural wine. I know this is area-specific (Pasadena, CA) but I want to shout out my new local natural wine shop, Good Luck Wine Shop. It’s owned by such a sweet couple who are super knowledgeable and super fun. My favorite kind of people.
So with a cool bottle of sparkling natural wine, I wanted to add in a fun platter to display it on. This striped marble board is from Target back when I did my kitchen reveal. I freaking love it and think the pattern against the tabletop is the perfect contrast. Then I added in a couple of plastic wine glasses (YES, they won’t beak… but also don’t try) and a mint plant for good smells, and I was set, baby.
Black Urn Planter (not available but with mentha suaveolens pineapple) | Blue Vase (vintage with pink angelonia | White Vase (with sweet potato vine) | Terracotta Bowl Planter (unavailable but with dichondra silver falls)
Can you tell I was a server for 6 years in my 20s?? Probably not with all those bubbles! I clearly think it’s funny that I’ve lost my delicate touch.
Ready to see the other side??
Lounge Chair (vintage) | Metal Globe (vintage but with tradescantia zebrina) | Lantern Hook | Lantern | Flameless Tea Candles | Terracotta Pot (unavailable but with yellow buttons)
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m not 100% happy with this side. Don’t tell anyone by I might have jumped the gun a little on buying this particular vintage lounge chair. It’s still awesome and I love it as an individual piece but had I gotten the patio set first I might have gone in a wood direction for warmth. But it’s clearly totally fine and comfortable and is where I spend most of my time when I’m out there. Plus what can’t a couple of throw pillows and a blanket solve? Well, a lot actually but in this case, it solved my “problem” enough.
ANOTHER FUN FACT: That is the only AC unit in my apartment and it’s in the bathroom. None of my other windows are AC compatible.
I was going to try and conceal it with a wooden half wall DIY but then I would have been to have enough space for the lounger and my beloved globe:)
Aged Planter (unavailable but with white angelonia) | White Planter | Yellow Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Throw Blanket
I love my metal globe. I was down in my hometown visiting my cousin and thought I would pop into the local antique mall and there it was. The lady at the front desk told me twice that I chose “weird” things (this included an oversized handled woven basket and a woven lampshade…get with the time’s lady, these things are cool!). So instead of hanging a lantern on my lantern hook, I hung my globe with a contrasting beautiful plant so not everything on that side of the balcony was white.
I also wanted to keep the pattern and texture party going on this side so I chose that mustard yellow pillow for the fun pattern and to go with the yellow plants I purchased. Then I wanted a “quiet” and different shaped pillow so I got that great lumbar and to finish it off purchased that two-toned throw. It’s so so soft and perfect to cozy up with. 10/10
Just wanted to show you more details on that table. How pretty are the main stand and ball feet on the table??? Oh, and I guess I’ll finally write my love letter to my IKEA DIY floors:)
But this is where I started. Simple enough right? WRONG.
My balcony isn’t perfectly rectangular so I had to layout, mark, cut with a jigsaw, and then paint. It took alllllll day. It was a beast of a project but then…
a lot more work but getting VERY worth it.
Floor Tiles | Cream Paint (heirloom white in satin) | Blue Paint (midnight blue in satin)
I don’t think I could have imagined them to turn out so perfect. But let me tell you (again) that after I had finished measuring the space (not equally rectangle), organizing them, painting them (with SO MUCH help from my friend Emily. No not Boss Emily and not Bowser Emily:)), and then installing them, I said, “this is why I don’t do DIYs like this”. They are so much work. HOWEVER, once they were finally done I was over the actual moon and thought it was totally worth it. It’s funny how that works. Also, hats off to the real DIYers out there. You are incredible.
I do want to say a few things on this particular DIY though. I don’t recommend it for high-traffic areas. Despite using a double primer spray paint, they chip so so easily. The tiles are plastic so there’s only so much you can do. Wood ones are available in this larger scale (not at IKEA) but they’re just pretty pricey and I couldn’t swing it. So since I only have room to take about two steps on each side, it works for me. Just wanted to give you the real deal, especially since it’s not necessarily a quick project.
From this angle, you can actually see my solar string lights! They have to be pretty high up so I can open my tall doors but they give off a really nice soft glow (not super bright FYI) which I like for this space and the neighborhood. I also added in a few lanterns for added light when I’m out there.
Before and after time? You bet…
So there is it. Au revoir, my sweet friends. I hope that you get to enjoy every last second of this warm (maybe too warm) weather while we have it. My communal patio reveal is next but likely before that you get to set your eyeballs on Caitlin’s amazing balcony!! We couldn’t shoot the same day and she’s now out east for a few weeks so that’s the only reason why there will be a slight hold up. WE BOTH WON THE RACE! Friendship furniture forever:)
Love you, mean it.
*Design by Jess Bunge (Me!)
**Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
***Emotional Design Support by Caitlin Higgins
Wow, this is such an achievement. Massive congratulations on making such a narrow area such a beautiful – and multi-functional! – space. The dimensions are so difficult I’m sure a lot of people would have just written it off, or at best used it for plants only. It does indeed feel very Parisian – and one of those beautiful chairs missing the ball on top is just perfect. I think you said in a previous post that you access one side of the table from one door, and the other side and chaise longe from another door, which is also kind of genius. I love it.
Thank you so so much!!
I’ve been waiting for this. I really wasn’t sure how it’d be, given the tiny, skinny space, but it’s fabulous.
It oozes Parisian vibes, spot on. 🙂
Your plants are great and look like you did a good job choosing specimens for the location and climate!
This. Was. Worth. Waiting. For!!!🥰
Thank you:) Now I just need to keep those cuties alive!
IT’S SO GOOD BUNGO!!!
Yup….now we’re waiting to see yours!!!
THANK YOU!!!! LOVE YOU!!
What a beautiful and useful space! But I have to admit those plants on the ledge really put me on edge. Please offer some reassurances about those!
Lol I take them down at night but it’s a super-wide ledge and iiiiif one fell no one would get hurt with what’s below:)
Be careful with earthquakes!!!!
Wow! So impressed with your creativity and style, especially working in a challenging space. And as a fellow plant lover, thank you for sharing all of the details on those as well. Bravo!
Thank you and you’re welcome! I’m always curious about what the actual plants are in pretty photos so I wanted to give as much info as possible:)
That patio set is fantastic, and the Target tray looks really good with it. I also love the hanging globe. It’s a Tradescantia isn’t it? I’ve grown a cutting from mine by popping a bit into a jar of water til it develops roots, then plant.
oh, and in our house those aren’t plastic glasses, it’s patio crystal 😉
Thank you! And I think it is a Tradescantia! It’s so pretty. O and I LOVE calling it patio crystal haha
So I’ve just gone down a little rabbit hole when I saw your reply. When I told my partner about the tradescantia he thought he recognised the name. Apparently it’s named after John Tradescant, who was a gardener at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire in the UK, before he became more famous. Which is where Princess Elizabeth was told she had become Elizabeth I, and is also a stately home that my grandad worked on as electrical engineer, when he rewired it in, I think the 50s. John Tradescant also collected curiosities and books, which he passed to his son, and the collection then became part of the basis of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
So I thought that was cool, and we can both feel vaguely royal just by having the plant.
Omg so cool!! Thank you for sharing!!
Wait. I seriously thought this was a French inspiration pic at the top. It is FANTASTIC.
That’s the nicest thing you could say to me<3 thank you!
Sooo well done! I love when challenging, small spaces are made beautiful!
This looks so good!
For anyone who might want to do a similar floor-tile DIY, a primer made for plastic plus a “porch and floor paint” might prevent chipping. I used Benjamin Moore porch & floor paint on my metal spiral staircase and haven’t had a single chip.
Jess! It looks amazing! I love every inch of what you’ve done here and I was waiting for this one because it looked tricky and you slayed gf! So well done!
Ah Lea thank you!!! I really appreciate it:)
Jess – looks great! I love that little cafe set!
Can I ask how you keep the condensation from the air conditioner off your chaise?
Shouldn’t there bd a drainage pipe?
Thank you! And I know it’s deceiving but the chaise isn’t actually under the AC so no worries there:)
I’ve been really looking forward to this and it doesn’t disappoint. Really lovely space. It’s so nice to have a nice outdoors area and I imagine this is also lovely to look out at from inside. Well done. It’s beautiful. Can’t wait to see Caitlin’s now too.
Thank you so much and me too! Her’s is going to be beautiful!
So very impressed with what you did with such an awkardly sized space! Love all of it, and thanks for keeping it real on the floor tiles (they look amazing and really elevate the design). Hope you are thoroughly enjoying your new space and very much looking forward to more reveals of your apartment.
Thank you so much <33
PS I like the “***Emotional Design Support by Caitlin Higgins”.
So sweet! 🤗
The honest truth!
Just beautiful! With a narrow balcony like this, I usually figure you can either make it look pretty and inviting from the inside or make it actually usable as an outdoor space and you managed to do both. Cheers!
That’s so nice of you to say!!
That is amazing! What a fabulous space you created from a not-so-fabulous “before”! There’s no way to not enjoy being outside in that space, and yes, you captured the Paris feel perfectly! Fit for a princess.
hahah thank you!!
Obviously, I’m OBSESSED with your patio, but that last photo of you STOLE THE SHOW! Gorgeous (you & the patio)!
Key, I’m blushing! Thank you so much xoxox
Ohhhhh, that glorious, perfectly patina’d bistro set totally makes it! What a steal! I’m so jealous.
Truly the steal of a lifetime!
Love it, Jess! Super creative solutions for a tight space. That bistro set is perfect — furniture friends forever! I also love how you gave us the names of all the plants you used.
Thank you and glad it’s helpful!!
WOW!!! I am so impressed. That was a challenging space for sure but the end result is stunning. It looks collected and like it’s been there for ages in the best possible way. Totally Parisian and totally fabulous! I’m daydreaming of a lazy afternoon reading a book in that lounge, followed by cheese plate and wine dinner with my BFF at the cafe table. PERFECTION and super inspiring!
Thank you so much!!
This is so chic and inspiring, especially for someone who also takes forever to make design decisions! I’m particularly in love with the throw blankets over the backs of the chairs idea.
Thank you! The more I’m making “fast” decisions the easier it’s becoming. I think there’s hope for us! It just takes practice:)
Looks nice! Any reason you didn’t do an outdoor rug instead of plastic tiles that are going to start peeling shortly?
I wanted to make a bigger design statement and didn’t want to see the original floors at all. The tiles don’t peel as much as they chip easily. But since there’s not a lot of moving around given how small it is, it works for my space.
Hi Jess, this looks amazing and I’ve been awaiting your balcony reveals – any reason why you didn’t go with the tiles as they are? The green and beige or the brown stain? Are they just too plasticy/ugly it’s hard to tell on line?
Thank you – fun following your journey and I love your positive gal-pal friendship with C. I am looking to redo my daughter’s balcony so been looking for inspo from you gals … Great job – it’s super pretty!
Hi Bianca! Well first off I always seem to complicate everything ha. But the charcoal color was pretty plastic-y looking. I didn’t look too hard at the other ones since I knew I wanted specific colors. Also, your daughter is so lucky to have your help! Good luck xx
I love it so much!! The DIY looks great – totally worth the effort. It’s just so cozy with the lanterns and the plants/flowers – like your own hidden secret garden. I bet it’s magical at night with the lights and candles. Well done!
Not sure if the measurements would work but when I came across this lounge I immediately thought of your space!
OMG that’s perfect!!! If it was a little more affordable I might consider it:) Thank you for the eye candy!
This is glorious! It’s such a tricky space and I think you designed and executed it absolutely perfectly – well done, you! I hope you enjoy the hell out of it 🙂
Thank you so much!!
This is so beautiful Jess!! I’ve been eagerly awaiting a reveal from your new apartment since your old one was so gorgeous. Well done, and I can’t wait for the living room!
That is so kind of you to say!! And I promise the living room is coming!
Brava! So very Parisian. And, ahhhhh, Pasadena…so lovely.
ha thank you!
Please be careful of those plants! One wrong move and they’re off the balcony ledge. Scary.
I promise I am:)
LOVE this! you’re living my dream in-my-20s LA life. even though it’s a “comical width”, i think the balcony is cool. it’s unique, which is all i wanted when i was younger. the weirder the better. the plants make it magical out there. the floor is great. the lavender was my favorite thing. the globe is fun! like your plant is in a cage. 🙂
It is SO lovely! I love DIY and enjoy decorating, and honestly I likely would have just given up without even trying. Such a tricky space, but you made it fabulous. I was worried the paint wouldn’t work on the floor tiles, but it’s so pretty! I hope it will hold up well for you and that you have many wonderful moments out there. Amazing job!
Thank you so much!!
Just chiming in- so very lovely- you should be proud
“I nearly blacked out…” Such a great way to describe that feeling of joy that comes with the perfect purchase for a ridiculously good price. Score!
Lol it’s so true!
applause applause! Well done!
Thank you so much!
Impressive update on the balcony! I love how emotional support is credited. Sometimes it’s overlooked!
It’s the most important! and thank you:)
Aghhhhhh it is so charming I can’t stand it. I legit keep expecting to see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. You nailed this. I mean, of course you did. I love you!!! Chigglypuff, can’t wait to see yours!!
Thank you my sweet sweet Arlyn!!!
Any links to the wooden floor alternative you mention??
Here’s one: https://rstyle.me/+CL3WDgsunzgyDnHDBOeuoA
Love it! Those chairs are awesome. Great find
It’s all because of Caitlin!
Everything is gorgeous!! Such a tricky layout but you nailed it. Did I miss the source for the green marble bistro table? That’s my favorite part! Is it something you purchased from a retail store, or a one of a kind score?
Thank you! But I am very sorry to report that it was a Craigslist kinda find. Caitlin actually saw it on her Nextdoor app!
ohmygosh my heart was moved when i saw the photos. sounds very dramatic but really. Good job Jess! and great photos Sara!
The craziest thing is, I think your balcony is better than your inspiration images!! That rarely happens! Awesome job! Looking forward to see how you skillfully store the blankets and cushions indoors so they last long.
That is the nicest comment!! And my closet will have a special place for the blankets and cushions:)
I love your balcony! I absolutely love how you hung the curtains up, wow it really transformed the area, I wouldn’t have thought to do that, we have a farmers porch and I’ve been wanting to renovate part of it for a seating area. It came out so cozy.
Jess, every single inch of your balcony is genuinely beautiful, cleverly designed, wonderfully functional and insanely inspirational. But I came here to say that I’m extremely impressed with your participation with these comments today. There are often interesting and useful exchanges between us commenters, but for the author of a post to keep up with the traffic and add all the sweet thank yous and interesting side notes? Well, I don’t see that very often and I want you to know that I noticed and I am touched by your thoughtfulness. <3
Thank you for your sweet words! We do try to be in the comments but some days are busier/harder than others. But we will try and be better overall<3
Ah, Jess, I hope you understand that I was only trying to communicate my genuine appreciation of your responses and not at all intending to throw shade at EHD! Positive vibes only from me, lady.
Beautiful. I have been thru the article twice and missed the source for the table and chairs. Can you share that again please. Some times I can’t see things in front of my face.
O it was basically a Craigslist find:) Caitlin saw the set on her Nextdoor app. Sorry to not have better news!
I agree with everything that’s been said about what an amazing job you did with such a challenging space, and I’m another person who that the inspiration photo was in Paris!
I also love your outfit – could you share sources for that?
Thank you!!! And sadly my outfit is old. The top is from anthropologie from 5 years ago and the pants are Target from 3 years ago.
Jess this is such a nice bistro vibe on the patio…great job… I feel like it is in Paris!
I love your top and pants…do you remember where you got them?
I really appreciate it! But sadly the top is from anthropologie from 5 years ago and the pants are Target from 3 years ago.
Well they look great on you. Thanks for the update
I honestly can’t get over how amazing this turned out. The floor was worth the effort and pain. I always try to remind myself, on the timeline of our life, this is just a blip. Now I can’t wait for the rest of your home tour after getting a sneak peek of the turret window!