Remember back when I first talked about my crazy list of demands for moving into a new apartment? Well, a private outdoor space was very high on the list. The universe clearly was trying to show off because it was like, “Ha. I’ll do you one better. How about a little weird balcony AND a communal patio where you can hang out with more than one person at a time??” So yes, there are not one but two places I can happily get feasted on by mosquitos!
Now at first glance, I wouldn’t call this a dreamy-looking patio setup despite the building being dreamy. There’s a handful of mismatched and nearly unusable pieces of furniture and a floor slant that is well, not not insignificant. BUT the size is great, the building next door gives a beautiful backdrop, and in my dreams, my neighbors and I can all use the main wall to project movies on warm (soon-to-be-fall) nights.
I had heard that my truly wonderful landlord (I know I’ve said it before but a great landlord should be celebrated always) wanted to spiff it up early last year but we all know what happened last March. Understandably she put a halt to those plans. But then a very pushy, design-obsessed tenant moved in last November (I am that tenant) and had her heart set on making that patio a retreat for everyone in the building. Plus it’s not a bad way to make good with the neighbors amirite? So let’s take a look at what I’m working with:
See what I mean?? A large space that needs A LOT of love. Here is my list of needs and upgrades:
- All new furniture
- A large rug (or two since the stairway is in the way)
- String lights (need some mood lighting stat!)
- Lots of plants
- Classic but modern design to go with style of the building
- A new peg rail!
Speaking of a new peg rail, this one really has to go. It was rotting, looked too small, and was ultimately useless. Now a huge part of this makeover was that I didn’t want to make any new holes if I didn’t absolutely have to. This is a beautiful old building and I want to preserve it the best I possibly can.
So with the help of the one and only Les Bunge, we just made a new beautiful rail using the existing holes. I really like waiting for a big reveal so sorry but no teaser shots:)
Plants are a super important part of this design because I want it to feel kinda private and lush. The side that looks over the driveway isn’t too bad of a view but I think will be SO pretty with a handful of sturdy vines and a couple of flowering plants. Any specific recommendations are welcome!! I really don’t want succulents because they aren’t the vibe. But whatever they are, they need to be able to handle a lot of heat and full sun. HELP!
Ok, ONE sneak peek! Here is how my dad installed the solar string patio lights. We went to Home Depot, bought these two posts and these adjustable clamps (can’t exactly remember which size but it’s different for every project) and then banded the posts to the railings on each side of the patio. No holes made and not totally offensive to the eye. Originally my dad said we should get straps (they were black and red) and against my better judgment, I didn’t say no…in the store. While he might disagree, I really tried to not be a total pain in the butt and thought “Jess, your dad is doing a MASSIVE favor, so stop being such a design snob and be ok with these ugly straps!”. Well, I should have said something because I just couldn’t do it (and he also agreed in the end) so back to Home Depot for at least the thrid time that day.
I plan to camouflage the banding with plants so I think it’s going to be great. Now, my only issue is that I think my landlord might want me to paint the posts the color of the railing… I don’t hate that idea but also the railings are pretty aged so a freshly painted post might look off. Stay tuned.
Adding in solar lights was also a way to make this as landlord-friendly as possible so she didn’t have anything added to her electric bill. Plus it worked out for me because I didn’t have to worry about factoring where a plug was. It’s a win for my landlord, me, and the earth. And there’s LB installing the solar panel into the post, thus not making new holes into the building or railing:)
Here it is at night! Isn’t it so pretty??
The technical stuff is now over and now we can FINALLY talk about the pretty stuff.
I kept the color palette pretty similar to my balcony because it just feels right for the building. This also is technically my first time designing for someone other than just me! So I needed to keep the design crowd-pleasing and classic but still special and interesting. I’m pretty darn happy where I ended up:) Also know that these mood boards are very bare-bones so don’t worry, much more will be added. But first, let’s start at the beginning. The first attempt…
I don’t dislike this one but it really just felt too toned down. Ultimately I wanted more pattern and a just more “fun”. Plus I think that a black peg rail would have been a little too visually intense. Onto the next…
I think that while VERY fun this is what is considered an “overcorrection”. Basically, I fell deeply in love with that umbrella (they have a cabana version too!) so I desperately tried to make it work but it wasn’t right for the building. Too “Palm Springs” if you will. Plus the color of that rug would have blended in way too much with the existing tile. However, I love the texture that dining table brought in so it’s a keeper:) Also, see how much better the light wood peg rail tone is??
Moodboard Three (And Final…Probably:))
Here we are! First, the change in sofa cushion color made a HUGE difference in making this design really pop and is honestly MUCH more practical for a shared outdoor space used by 14 units. Plus the fabric of the sofa and chair is Sunbrella! Couldn’t be more pumped. But there’s a sofa cover too which I plan to make everyone use. Maybe I won’t actually be that popular. Then I really wanted some bold contrast so that awesome blue outdoor rug that leans just the right amount of traditional and that super sweet striped umbrella checked that box real quick. But to make sure I’m spreading the blue love around I found these folding Target bistro chairs for the other side of the patio. I did purchase these already and I LOVE them. They are hard to find now (I had to drive two hours to get two of them) but I think they are a recurring style every year. Likely because they are super cute and so comfortable.
Let’s talk about that lounge chair for a sec. You might recognize it from Shavonda’s backyard reveal! The moment I saw them in that post I instantly wanted them but at the time had zero outdoor space. Well friends, times have certainly changed and I can’t wait to stare AND sit on it in person.
So this is where I am at and I couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait for everything to arrive and to style the heck out of it. I also want to let you know that my balcony is actually done and we are shooting it THIS WEEK!!! So I promise I didn’t lose focus and you are about to get some really fun outdoor content just as we are heading hopefully out of this not great 90-degree weather, at least here in LA:)
Love you, mean it.