Home decorating challenge on a budget – update

Since moving into this condo in March, hard to believe it’s been almost six months, my balcony has been one of my main areas to focus on. It’s gone through many transformations since moving in. And after this last step, which was very affordable addition to the balcony, I can honestly say – that I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I’m running out of time as the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. But ideally, I’d love to transform the balcony into a welcoming and warm space in winter months. I might not sit outside for hours at a time like I have this summer – but I hope to get outside for at least 10 minutes daily. Unless it’s -40C outside. Because no one wants to sit outside in -40C weather. Even with an outdoor heater.

( I have 40+ draft posts ready to share…some days I might share more than one post!)

This was the view during a June snow storm. It can get pretty miserable.

Balcony #1: April 2021

This is a before picture from when I first moved in. It started with my sister who graciously offered to buy me an outdoor area rug. The rug has held up wonderfully all summer though it does need a good cleaning. I’ll get my vacuum outside when it’s less windy.

I’ve shared pictures of the updates on Facebook and the one comment I hear from all my friends is, “I can’t believe how big that area is!” I love it. I don’t think I’d love it as much if I had neighbours across the street. But I love it for what it is now. My little cozy reprieve.

My sister who spoils me, also bought the flowers for me. They’re now pretty much dead thanks to all the heat, lack of rain and high winds. You also know about the smoke. It’s been a bad year for gardens and flowers. Hopefully next year, is better.

First balcony update

Balcony 2 Update: May 2021

It was early May when my sister texted me and offered up her old patio furniture. She had ordered a new set in from Canadian Tire. “It’s a house warming gift, you don’t have to pay me.” She said when I offered her cash. It took us a couple of weeks to find a time to drop off the furniture. I was blown away when I saw how much furniture she included. Even down to the rest cushions!

The chairs are a little sun worn, and one chair is wobbly, but otherwise – this set is in really good condition. I know, because I’ve used it ALL summer – almost every night.

As you can see, the balcony is badly stained from previous tenants. They had a gas bbq and I think that’s where the stains are from. The rug covers most of the area. It’s pretty huge.

What I learned quickly, was that the chair placement was fantastic for working on my summer tan. I face the sun during the day and it was awesome for tanning.

Second balcony update

Balcony 3 Update: June 2021

After about a month of this set up, I realized the above neighbours could see me where I was sitting. I used the two seater more often than not to listen to music or read. I was also a bit worried about storing outdoor supplies on the balcony. Our condo board has some really strict bylaws. We can’t store any household items outside, nor can we hang anything on the railings.

So, I got crafty. I moved the two seater over to the corner. Not only did this provide extra shade, but it hides the planters and supplies very well. When it rains, I store the cushions in a large plastic bag behind the seat, and no one but me can see it.

I don’t have a picture of this layout, but this is my view from the corner.

Balcony 4 Update: August 2021

All summer long I thought to myself, there must be a way that I can get around the condo bylaws in order to have some more privacy. My issue is that I love sitting outside at night time. Not evening time – the kids are still outside at the park playing. On really hot nights, I would sit outside between 11 pm and 1 am to cool off. Not only were the kids in bed by this point, but the stores were all closed except for the one restaurant that is hidden by a large tree.

I loved curling up in my two seater while listening to podcasts or watching TikTok. I used headphones for this to block out the noise from traffic. The issue here is privacy. Even though the stores are closed by 9 or 10 pm, a surprising amount of traffic still moves through the parking lot. I’ve even caught some people sitting in their cars late at night facing my condo.

And before you say I’m paranoid, I started using my green chairs as a shield to hide myself from people’s views. One night, I noticed a car sitting in the lot. I moved the chair to block their view. Moments later, the car moved. I moved the chair a second time, and third time – and the car moved with it too. I finally got up and put a towel over the railing. And wouldn’t you know it – the car left.

So, I searched the internet high and low for options. I even asked some Reddit groups on what to do. We can’t hang anything and we can’t block visibility of the balcony deck.

I considered room dividers but they were too expensive. The easiest answer would have been shades – but they are no longer allowed as they “block management from seeing what’s on the balcony.” And so, yesterday, I discovered that Rona had a sale on a privacy latte. For $25 per piece!

I ordered this 4×8 ft slab, and it works pretty well.

My friend Wally picked this up for me and helped me set it up. What would I do without him? We had a chat over how much sun it blocks. And while people can still see through the holes, this little fence gives me that sense of security that I needed more than anything. Plus I love the pattern that the sun casts on the rug.

After Wally left, I hummed and hawed about the height. The main idea was to have something minimal that wouldn’t be too obvious to someone walking by. And unfortunately, this fence was just too high for my liking. It definitely needs to be cut by a professional with a saw.

But for now, I got a little crafty. The fence bends a little and so I came up with this:

The fence is tied with string – but you can’t see that from the street. This isn’t a perfect solution but for now — it works!

I also decided to leave the left part of the fence open so that the condo board can still see the balcony. Technically, this doesn’t break any rules. And I think it looks really pretty.


Condo decorating continues

And so, the evolution of my balcony continues. I really wish we could hang little flower pots on the railings because it would look so cute. I’m looking at alternatives for next summer. Like maybe a plant stand and then hang metal flower pots. But we’ll see how it goes.

My next focus is on how to keep the area warm for fall. Sitting outside last night was COLD. I had a towel with me but I think I need to get an outdoor blanket too.

I’m also looking at outdoor heaters. Luckily, the balcony does have an electric outlet. So, I’m searching Etsy and Amazon for ideas. Maybe Canadian Tire or Home Depot will have something affordable in a heater. That way, I can cozy up with a lantern, a blanket, a cup of coffee, and read books on my Ipad – if it ever gets here.

I also want to get some soft white lights to hang in the kitchen window. Again, technically, that doesn’t break any rules. They will be inside – but visible from outside. And in December, I plan on hanging some lights – I just don’t know where yet. I’ll keep it simple with white or LED lights. There are so many things to choose from!

The other thing that I am excited about is that I finally ordered a sofa for my living room. I’m still searching for slipcovers for my red chairs. Once that project is done, I’ll share some photos. But one step at a time. Decorating is so expensive!

Stay tuned for home living updates and project ideas! For now you can read related posts under my “Home Living” category. Or just use the right side bar to select your category of choice. As you can tell, I write about anything and everything that sparks my interest With fall fast approaching, my main focus is on home living and making my new home cozy and comfortable for the winter months.

Home Living | The Frugal Life


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