For this small rental apartment balcony makeover project, the mission was to transform it into a cozy inviting outdoor space to relax, unwind and entertain friends. Because it's a rental apartment, the goal was to do this while spending the least amount of money possible of the custom features. I made the "window frame" for less than $15 in materials and the smart outdoor LED lights were the perfect thing to highlight this feature.
Step 1: Building the Frame
First, I made 4 panels that fit the size of the opening. I had the wood cut at the hardware store but I had to make some adjustments by hand to make the pieces fit. I screwed together 1"x2" and 1"x6" (to match the width of the wall opening) and then I attached the bottom panel to the side panels with screws. Then I added a lip at the front edge made with a 1"x2".
I tested the frame to make sure it fit before staining it with a semi-transparent weather-proofing stain in a color called coffee from Behr (2 coats).
Step 2: Installing the Frame
I kept the top panel off on purpose to make it easier to install the frame and I attached it to the rest of the frame with bracket and screws.
Because it's a rental apartment, the entire installation was done without making any holes in the walls: the frame is prevented from moving backward thanks to the lip at the front of the frame - I could have also installed a 1"x2" at the back of the frame once it was installed but another option was to use a bracket screwed to the back of the panel. It rests against the wall and prevents the frame from moving forward.
Step 3: Installing the Wood Carving
To fill in the frame to add a sense of privacy but still keep things open and airy and attractive from both sides, I hung a beautiful carved wood panel that was only $50 from target (since the feature is visible from the neighbor's balcony, we got his approval for the project). I used an eye hook and some wire to hang it and to keep it from moving around, I used more wire and eye hooks to attach it to the frame on the sides.
Step 4: Install Smart LED Outdoor Lights
No outdoor space is complete without lighting so I installed smart LED outdoor lights that you can control with your smart phone to change the color and intensity. I used zip ties to secure them to the balcony railing and the lights come with screws which is what I used to secure them to the frame.
They are perfect to highlight architectural features like the wood carving and they are perfect to set the mood for entertaining in the evening. Here's the info on the lights:
Lightify Gateway: http://amzn.to/1JcmksY
Lightify Gardenspot lights (14 ft): http://amzn.to/1YdmxaK
Lightify Gardenspot extensions (4.67 ft): http://amzn.to/1P01phQ
Step 5: Enjoy the Lights!
It's easy to change the lights to any color or intensity with an app on a smart phone. Love the way they look! You can see how the lights and the entire balcony makeover in this video. Enjoy!