My LA Balcony – Before and After

How time flies! It’s already been a year since I transformed my balcony from a sad worn out unused outdoor space into a beautiful cozy outdoor room. It was a lot of work but it was well worth it: not only has it given me more usable square footage, it’s also provided a much better view to look at from the inside of my apartment! 




The first part of the transformation entailed sprucing up the walls. I did this by first making caps for the concrete walls – having the back of the caps extend up a few inches prevents things from falling to the ground and makes the top of the walls usable space. This also creates the illusion that my very narrow balcony (it’s only 3.5 ft wide) is a little wider. I made the caps using cedar fence posts and furring strips so they slide right over the walls and I painted them with a solid white outdoor stain. 

LA-balcony-wall-caps-before-after To give the tired looking walls a new look, I used a reed fence to make panels by stapling and gluing them to corner molding at the top and then screwing that into the wall caps. I love how it hid the walls and gave them a tropical feel. 

LA-balcony-wall-covered-with-reed-fence part 1

LA-balcony-wall-covered-with-reed-fence part 2Next I wanted to address shade and privacy. For that, I made lattice privacy panels using furring strips that I painted in a white outdoor stain. 




LA-balcony-privacy-panels-part-2Since I’m renting, I didn’t want to make any holes so I used sisal rope to secure the panels to the bottom of existing columns and used zip ties at the top.

LA-balcony-privacy-panels-part-2For the side panels, I had to get creative since there were no columns on one side. I ended using cabinet levelers at the top and secured the bottom to the wall caps. 

LA-Balcony-Privacy-panels-side-panelsThis video shows in detail how I made the wall caps and the privacy panels:


Next came furniture and accessories: I wanted to create an area for lounging, eating and a little garden and it all had to fit my 10 ft x 3.5 ft balcony.

LA-Balcony-layoutThis required some custom DIY furniture so I first I built a storage lounging bench using inexpensive 2″x3″ and pine boards. By building a trap door for the top, it gave me a storage space to store gardening supplies and other things that can be stored outside. You can see the detailed steps for this project here.

DIY outdoor storage bench



Next, I needed a small table for the dining area. I found this inexpensive table from IKEA that was perfect but the top was a bit too small and I didn’t like the black legs. To give it a new look, I used antique gold rub n’ buff on the legs and then I built a new top  that slides over the existing one to make the table slightly larger. 


For the garden part of my balcony, I didn’t have a lot of floor space to work with so I made a vertical herb garden by attaching metal planters to a trellis, which I then attached to the wall caps. 




Last but not least, I added some plants and hung a lantern to give my small balcony that outdoor room feel.


You can see how I built the bench, and the other projects in this video here:


All the effort I put into this balcony makeover was so worth it – it has truly become an extension of my living space that I get to enjoy day and night.


I hope you enjoyed this recap of my balcony project and that perhaps it will inspire you to make the most of your outdoor space if you’re lucky enough to have one! 

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  1. Suzie

    Wow, it is even pretty at night! Especially love the lattern.

    • Isabelle

      Thanks Suzie, I love the lantern too, it gives such a beautiful glow at night!

  2. Christina

    WOW!!! That is an amazing transformation! Your creative engineering is Divine! Thank you for the ideas and inspiration.

  3. Ryan

    Awesome job. Looks fantastic.

  4. Sue

    Hi Isabelle,

    What a fantastic job you’ve done on this small balcony. Keep up the great work, I love swing what you create.

  5. Elaine

    Simply amazing!!!

  6. Great use of space, practical ideas – will transfer to my New Zealand balcony – always a pleasure to browse through your projects – keep returning to them

    • Isabelle

      Thank you Kate! And I would love to see pics of your balcony projects! Isabelle

  7. Elisabeth

    Thanks so much for this great and inspiring post! You are so clever and creative, and the ideas are so do-able for everyone. Thanks again!
    Liz (Australia).

    • Isabelle

      You’re welcome Liz! And thank you so much, I’m happy to share my ideas!!

  8. Soledad

    Dear Isabelle, thank you for sharing all your creative ideas. It’s been great stumbling onto your YouTube channel! My boyfriend and I are international students from Argentina, which means that we rent (im California too) and are also on a budget. You’re posts and videos have given us a lot of ideas and we are really thankful. Hope to see much more of you soon!!

    • Isabelle

      Thank you so much Soledad, means a great deal to hear that my ideas have been helpful for you and your boyfriend! Thanks for watching! Isabelle

  9. mary beth mabe

    Hello. I started watching at 6:30pm and it is now afte midnight. Kinda got hooked on the videos, and I am now subscribed. I do have a small question, how did you do the ‘reed’ wall hanging above your bed in the NYC studio? And Did your camera person move with you?[ the quality improved from season 1:3 to the next and has improved since .

    • Isabelle

      Hi Mary Beth! That’s so amazing to hear, thank you for watching! I had some frames from IKEA that I used (they had a groove that made it possible to attach the reed to the frames). IKEA doesn’t make those frames anymore which is why I never showed that project. I use a tripod to film (no camera person) so I guess that means I’ve improved in my filming technique, thank you!

  10. Jill

    Wow, what an amazing transformation! What ideas do you have for a mudroom with one wall of windows facing a shared backyard? I thought about some paper roller shades of some kind. I love whites and light colors, and I have plants in there so the shades would need to be up during the day for more light. But after seeing your balcony, I’d love to put a small table and chairs in my mudroom to enjoy it with some privacy!

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