Race to 7/20: Jess and Caitlin Are Racing To Decorate Their, Let’s Say, Challenging Balconies… Here are The Plans

Last Tuesday, Caitlin and I were still feeling kinda meh and not very inspired (or at least I wasn’t). It was a big “WHAT DO WE CARE ABOUT/WANT TO TALK ABOUT? WHAT DO THE READERS CARE ABOUT? DO WE CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ANYMORE???” So after throwing a bunch of ideas out we both decided we wanted to tackle our “unique” balconies. Now I know some these intro posts have ended up being a bunch of empty promises (rip my tiled medicine cabinet cover). BUT this time is different. We have set a deadline, or more so a finish line. The plan is for us to see how fast we can turn these babies out with the absolute latest day being 7/20. This means our reveals will be designed, shot, and ready to publish by that date. It’s a cutthroat race but also a very supportive one:)

So why July 20th? Well, it gives us a little over a month (even though I am placing a big bet on myself to finish much sooner. Watch out Higgins!) and I thought it was a funny play on Armchair Expert’s “Race to 270” where two of Dax’s best friends raced to get to 270 lbs. Caitlin has never listened to a single episode of any Armchair series (I KNOW!!) so she had to take my word for it. They didn’t have a timeline and we don’t have any potentially dicey moral issues (Monica and I were very aligned in our concerns). Oh, and there may only be one update because that’s how fast this is going! Otherwise, it’s practically the same thing. And hopefully just as entertaining! Ok, I’m now going to pass the mic to Miss Caitlin to describe in all her hilarity what determined women we became that fatal Tuesday evening…

HI, IT’S CAITLIN. Jess is right – I’ve been feeling really uninspired to take on projects in my own home right now. Exactly two weeks after getting my second Pfizer shot in April, my internal monologue switched from “I deserve a home that feels like me” to “why work on my apartment when I could work on going to beer gardens and sitting in the park and going on boats and seeing my friends again???”

The next thing you need to know: over the past year, I have grown to be like, uh, a little codependent on Jess. (TBH it’s healthy, but we are just very close!!! It’s very cute!!!) I think we talk for at least 20 hours a week – not even about EHD business, just friend stuff (outside of business hours, of course!) – and so when she called me after work on Tuesday and told me about her plans to do her challenging balcony, I said, “OH, ME TOO. My balcony is also tough! I will design mine and we will do it together,” because what are friends for if not glomming on to your ideas and forcing themselves into your projects?

But it turns out that it’s just what these two indecisive Libras needed, because by Wednesday morning, we both had mood boards and guys, WE STARTED PLACING ORDERS FOR THINGS. Money is leaving our accounts (and in my case, I’ve already gotten some things delivered!). This is happening. Side note: In a true non-competitive competition, we placed these orders while FaceTiming each other and we cheered when the email confirmations came through – it is very nice to have a friend to hold me accountable 🙂 That said, BUNGO IS GOING DOWN BECAUSE I’M GONNA BE DONE THIS BALCONY ASAP. Let me show you what I’m working with…

This space has been my problem child for a full year (or uh, two years, I guess. Woops!). It has okay dimensions (10′ x 4′), which would normally be great *if* there wasn’t a door that opened straight into the space – those with sliding glass doors, you are very lucky – but beyond that, it feels like a full-on UFC cage match in here. I really oscillate between thinking the bars are a charming architectural feature and thinking that the bars are the bane of my existence, but I guess that both things can be true. My original plan was to get planters and to grow some vines up the bars to increase the privacy factor, but getting the right size planters to sustain healthy plants would kill the amount of floor space and make ~comfy~ seating arrangements untenable, so I just kinda ignored the problem and figured that I’d deal with it one day when I felt smarter and more capable. But finally, the stars have aligned and the day has come!

Before I jump into the inspo and plans, though, GET A LOAD OF THAT VIEW. That’s what folks move to LA for!!! It’s beautiful and the bars definitely add a little something extra. This is exactly what I had always dreamed of when watching old sitcoms based in Beverly Hills – just true glamor here, guys. The other day when I was measuring in my PJs, I was catcalled by someone in the drive-thru. So like, SOS, I NEED PRIVACY RIGHT NOW. On to the inspiration…

design and photo by gray malin

TBH, even *I* am shocked that this is where I ended up, but I’ll walk you through the catalyst a little bit when we get to the moodboard. Doing a whole Beverly Hills Hotel-inspired apartment would be a little too much for me, but in 40 square feet? I LOVE IT. I’m not traditionally into cane or rattan or wicker but I love how functional and light and fun it is for an outdoor space, especially when paired with some cabana stripes.

image source

Ah yes, we’re clocking in on a definite theme here. Gimme some banana palm printed cushions, gimme some outdoor curtains with fun tiebacks, and gimme some fun hits of pink and stripes! I’M READY. I’m ready to share my early plan (with notice that things will probably change or shift a little, since finished is better than perfect!).

Boxwood | Striped Outdoor Curtains | Chairs | Bistro Table | Runner | Semi-Flush Mount | Leaf Pillow | Pink Pillow | Planter | Hanging Chair | Drink Table

My jumping-off point here was the cabana stripe curtains – they’re made of Sunbrella which means they’ll be really easy to maintain, which is key for me since I live off a major road and everything is constantly covered with a layer of black soot – and I love that I’ll be able to manage the amount of privacy on the balcony. My apartment gets REALLY hot and it takes a long time for it to cool down in the evenings, so I love sitting out on the balcony at night – I can’t wait to draw these shut, flip on the light, and lounge on an egg chair in a sports bra with my book and my $11 Sauv Blanc from Walgreens without a million folks seeing me.

Everything else fell into place pretty organically after that – like, if you’re doing a cabana stripe, you may as well lean into the rattan…and the brass…and the fun prints. I HAD TO. For what it’s worth, I had never been a big bistro table set fan and would have never thought of putting one out here buuuuut a few weeks ago, a gentleman caller came over to make me dinner and he wanted to sit outside (because again, hot apartment) and I was MORTIFIED, so that table and those chairs have already been acquired. #iboughtthis #problemsolver #fasterthanJess

I know that once the “big” pieces are installed, I’ll pepper in a ton of pink & green accessories in terms of pillows, dinnerware, candles, flowers, etc. TBH I would have loved to go for a true Beverly Hills hotel vibe (a little bit of a lighter palate – white chairs, a white drink table, a baby pink rug) but I’m trying to balance out the imposing prison bars while picking pieces that won’t look disgusting after a week of soot exposure. And while my middle door placement drives me crazy, I am pretty excited about the natural separation it makes between a “lil spicy date night” side and a “relaxing like a fetus in my sweatpants” side. In any case, I’m VERY EXCITED to have a new and usable space that I won’t scream about in case a boy ever comes to my house again. Passing it back to Jess, but I’m excited to hear any feedback from you!!! See ya!!

very intense shopping faces

Hi again! Our codependent relationship has become one of my most treasured gifts of 2020 and I am 100% that horrible coworker/friend that facetimes without asking permission but she graciously answers almost always (I have gotten A LOT better about asking before I call even though she’s never complained). And she is also correct that our Libra indecisiveness makes it near impossible to make a quick decision so last week was an exciting but anxiety-inducing roller coaster. Normally, I spend weeks making sure I am making the “most perfect” decision I can for a room. Hence why my projects take…a minute. But not this time! Exhibit A: I searched for maybe two hours and decided to buy a 10950s vintage lounge chair without the “but what if there’s something better” thoughts taking over. I didn’t even sleep on it! Well, I kinda did because it was off of Craigslist and I couldn’t get it for 2 days but you get the point.

HOT DESIGN TIP: Create a friendly design race with a friend to hold your overthinking butt accountable so you both can enjoy each other’s spaces in the actual near future!

And being held accountable is what I needed (well, we both needed). Remember in my “I Moved” post where I talked about my long list of what I had to have in my next apartment (talking about this one)? An outdoor space was probably #2 on the list of importance. #1 being it had to be bigger:) But the embarrassing truth is I’ve never used it. Sure, I’ve used the building’s community patio with my neighbor friend for some drinks but that’s it. Honestly, it’s un-freaking-acceptable. Walk the walk, Bunge.

Ok, I’m walking here (!), let’s talk about my little slice (literally) of heaven.

Here is maybe the longest and skinniest balcony in the Los Angeles Area. But I don’t care because she is all mine… as I mentioned, there’s a larger communal patio for the building to use when I have more than just Caitlin over for some alfresco drinks and snacks. Can you believe that that statement is a reality?!?! Having more than one person in my apartment feels like rave-level excitement. Not that I’ve actually been to a rave but you get the point.

As you can see from these photos the layout is my number one issue but I have a plan that I think is going to work great for me and having those four doors is crucial.

This puppy’s usable dimensions are 30″ x 20′ and below is my current layout that likely can’t change if I want all of the elements I have planned. Essentially the two inner doors will always stay closed because they all swing out towards the balcony. I can then access each chair and side with the two outer doors. It’s for sure going to be tight but totally doable. Then my awesome new lounge chair, which you will see in a minute, can be off to the side so I can more comfortably read, bask in the sun, or drink some wine with my legs up. Oh and I really want a small tomato plant because after eating fresh tomatoes from my dad’s garden last summer, I’m forever changed (and they are apparently very easy to grow which is necessary for my skill level).

Ok, let’s take design. You are probably not surprised that I am going for a vintage European/Parisian look. Predictable, yes. But I love what I love and it’s the right vibe for the exterior of my building.

design by athena calderone | styled by colin king | photo by gieves anderson | via architectural digest

My main inspiration is Athena Calderone‘s Brooklyn terrace. I have been drooling over this patio the moment I first saw it a few years ago and knew that if I ever had an outdoor space this would be one of the top inspirations. The blue and off-white tiles, the unique iron furniture, the pop of colorful greenery. All a total Jessica dream.

photo by tessa neustadt | from: the finished patio (with the tile!)

And so is Emily’s old patio! Beautiful, bold patterns, colorful, and fresh yet soulful. Also I just I really love special metal outdoor furniture.

Another issue is going to be greenery. I want to have a good amount but also know my limitations in my plant care abilities. I really want to get better though!

left: design and photo by anita yokota | right: design by seamus dinnigan, via homes to love

I sadly can’t do vines up the walls like Anita’s wonderful side yard or Seamus’s stunning outdoor dining nook. But do you see those plant stands in the back of Anita’s space? Well, I was pursuing World Market I grabbed myself something similar! Not sure if I will use it for a plant or a lantern holder but love that it’s going to giving me some levels. Since having a vintage look is paramount, I found a DIY how to quickly age (aka rust) metal quickly which I think would give it that feel I want.

Now let’s see my full plan before I go into more specifics…

Floor Lantern Hook | Lantern | Faux Flowers | Solar String Lights | Vintage Outdoor Bistro Set | Floor Tiles (going paint blue and white) | Vintage Lounge Chair | White Planter | Terracotta Planter | Clear Glass Lanterns

Do you see the vision?? The floor tiles are going to be the biggest transformation and the biggest project. I’M SO PUMPED. So they are actually the IKEA outdoor click-together tiles that I am planning to spray paint to make that blue and off-white checkered pattern. I was thinking of trying to create a diamond pattern but it’s really going to be sooooooo much harder and the check is going to be great. I’ve already consulted with DIY expert Rashida about the painting process so fingers crossed it lasts. I should mention that they have been purchased and are awaiting paint and some cutting! I told you we are MOVING QUICK.

That bistro set was about to be in my cart from Chairish until I realized it needed to be shipped from across the country and made it way too expensive (I really thought I had clicked the “local” feature!). I was bummed. But then my spirits were lifted when I found that INCREDIBLE lounge chair on Craigslist for $125 which was a lot more affordable than most of the new stuff on the market. It’s a special piece I plan on keeping and loving for a long time. Plus the extra great part is that it’s only 22″ wide which is perfect for the very narrow space. I could maybe get a drink table y’all! Pillows and a throw will be added for extra comfort, color, and style:)

So the hunt for the bistro set continues which might be the one thing threatening my victory because I really want something vintage. I probably will also want something a little less curvy than what is on the moodboard since the lounge chair has that detail handled. But aside from that, the solar lights and clear glass lanterns have been purchased as well. So now I just need to fill in the decor. Oh and get on those DIYS because I want to WIN!!!

So that’s the deal! Are you ready to take bets? Should there be a prize like “the loser” cooks dinner for the winner that they can enjoy on the winner’s patio together?? Hopefully, you are as excited as we are!!

Opening Image Credits: Left From: Design and Photo by Gray Malin | Right From: Design by Athena Calderone | Styled by Colin King | Photo by Gieves Anderson | via Architectural Digest

The post Race to 7/20: Jess and Caitlin Are Racing To Decorate Their, Let’s Say, Challenging Balconies… Here are The Plans appeared first on Emily Henderson.