Jess’ Long And Skinny Balcony Reveal!! + The DIY IKEA Floor Tile Hack That Was WELL WORTH The Blood, Sweat, And 2-6 Tears

My co-dependant relationship/design support with/from Caitlin Higgins has for the millionth time paid off. I, Jessica A. Bunge, designed and photographed a sure, “tiny” balcony, but an entire balcony nonetheless in under two months. Does that sound impressive? Not really. Did I finish by the 7/20 deadline?? Almost. But as someone who has a history of overthinking every last detail of every design decision in her life (because isn’t there always a way to make it cooler?), potentially prolonging the design process, this is nothing short of the beautiful, Parisian-inspired miracle.

But let’s start at the beginning dun, dun, dunnnnn…

So much potential but also VERY daunting at first sight. How was I going to make this functional and beautiful? Could I even have a table and chairs with that comical width? How was I going to cover that flooring? Well, I was determined and came up with a plan…man.

I wanted to show these photos to remind you of how wildly skinny my balcony is. And what is even WILDER is that it’s not original to the building. I KNOW. They couldn’t have spared a couple more feet???? Maybe they felt it in their bones that I would live here one day and thought, “You know what Jess needs? A real hard design challenge. A long 30″ x 20′ balcony it is! “Well, balcony builders, challenge accepted.

Welcome to Paris-adena, France:)

My love for these windows only rivals my love for my living room turret window. In typical Jess/Libra fashion I simply can’t choose a favorite so won’t. However, waking up to these beautiful gals may or may not make me feel like a princess every day. Something I never thought I needed… I’d like to think I’m not very “princessy” but dammit it feels good.

Side note: These are my old IKEA curtains and while I love a romantic “puddle” I might go for more of a “kiss” when I finally design my bedroom. So another stay tuned. 2022 is going to be exciting because I’m going to finish my entire apartment if it kills me:) But fear not, the living room will happen this year. These covid delays are just still very real.

Oof I love this view and everything in it. Having a ton of texture out there was really important to me. I wanted lots of plants, patterns, and materials. To get that I just used all the knowledge I learned from Em. I chose a color palette, made sure I varied the tones of those colors, mixed up pattern scales, chose different but complementary materials, and added in some very delicious wine. That’s the actual key to any great design. Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Woven Planter (with sweet lavender)

While I hate choosing favorites, this planter is easily top three…or two…or one. The woven texture is so good, the simple lines of the black wire adds quiet contrast, and then those sweet little legs with the ball feet really modernize it. Basically, it’s perfect and fun fact, it’s also pretty affordable. Also how stunning is that sweet lavender?? Heart, be still.

Another fun fact: After Caitlin and I bought not one but TWO sets of “friendship chairs,” she found this PERFECT patio set on her Nextdoor app area for $150. I nearly blacked out when I saw it. Messages were sent and off I was to the west side for my perfect patio match.

In case you were wondering what “friendship chairs” or “friendship furniture” are, it’s when you buy a set of say, four chairs and you split them financially and physically in half with your preferred friend. My preferred friendship furniture friend will forever and always be Caitlin. To date, we’ve split two sets of four chairs. Only time will tell how many more are in our future. Maybe for our next and hopefully slightly larger homes, we will move up to a set of eight.

So not only would I have given her my firstborn for finding this set had she asked, but this tip was also 3 days before our 7/20 deadline. She was practically handing me the win! FYI no one actually won but we were both super close. O and as a thank you, I gave her my two chairs from our first set of friendship chairs since she loved them so much and I not longer had a place for them. Fair is fair.

Seat Cushion Cover + Cushion Insert | Throw Blanket

THOSE ARMS! And that floor might I add:) But no, we are still talking about the patio set. Now while this is the set of my dreams, it needed some cushion for long warm nights of talking with friends about important stuff like vintage patio furniture. So I ordered two sets of cushions like a normal person. One I ordered from Etsy with the hopeful promise of maaaybe getting here by the shoot date. No dice. The others are from IKEA. And honestly, after I cut off the black bungee straps that are supposed to secure the cushions to the seat, they turned out pretty darn chic. Both sets were super affordable.

But butts weren’t my only concern. These chairs are iron (can you tell?) and the backs are also hard. So I headed over to Target and found these perfectly patterned throw blankets to drape over the backs. Instant comfort that packs a lot of style. What’s also great is that I can easily take them off when I’m not using them (they aren’t meant for outdoors sadly) and marvel at the perfect ironwork of the chairs through my windows.

Plastic Wine Glasses | Striped Marble Board (similar) | Wine | Bullet Planter (vintage with twinklebells red) | Lantern

Now let’s drink. I’m a real wine lover so naturally, I wanted a great (and cool looking) bottle of natural wine. I know this is area-specific (Pasadena, CA) but I want to shout out my new local natural wine shop, Good Luck Wine Shop. It’s owned by such a sweet couple who are super knowledgeable and super fun. My favorite kind of people.

So with a cool bottle of sparkling natural wine, I wanted to add in a fun platter to display it on. This striped marble board is from Target back when I did my kitchen reveal. I freaking love it and think the pattern against the tabletop is the perfect contrast. Then I added in a couple of plastic wine glasses (YES, they won’t beak… but also don’t try) and a mint plant for good smells, and I was set, baby.

Black Urn Planter (not available but with mentha suaveolens pineapple) | Blue Vase (vintage with pink angelonia | White Vase (with sweet potato vine) | Terracotta Bowl Planter (unavailable but with dichondra silver falls)

Can you tell I was a server for 6 years in my 20s?? Probably not with all those bubbles! I clearly think it’s funny that I’ve lost my delicate touch.

Ready to see the other side??

Lounge Chair (vintage) | Metal Globe (vintage but with tradescantia zebrina) | Lantern Hook | Lantern | Flameless Tea Candles | Terracotta Pot (unavailable but with yellow buttons)

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m not 100% happy with this side. Don’t tell anyone by I might have jumped the gun a little on buying this particular vintage lounge chair. It’s still awesome and I love it as an individual piece but had I gotten the patio set first I might have gone in a wood direction for warmth. But it’s clearly totally fine and comfortable and is where I spend most of my time when I’m out there. Plus what can’t a couple of throw pillows and a blanket solve? Well, a lot actually but in this case, it solved my “problem” enough.

ANOTHER FUN FACT: That is the only AC unit in my apartment and it’s in the bathroom. None of my other windows are AC compatible.

I was going to try and conceal it with a wooden half wall DIY but then I would have been to have enough space for the lounger and my beloved globe:)

Aged Planter (unavailable but with white angelonia) | White Planter | Yellow Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Throw Blanket

I love my metal globe. I was down in my hometown visiting my cousin and thought I would pop into the local antique mall and there it was. The lady at the front desk told me twice that I chose “weird” things (this included an oversized handled woven basket and a woven lampshade…get with the time’s lady, these things are cool!). So instead of hanging a lantern on my lantern hook, I hung my globe with a contrasting beautiful plant so not everything on that side of the balcony was white.

I also wanted to keep the pattern and texture party going on this side so I chose that mustard yellow pillow for the fun pattern and to go with the yellow plants I purchased. Then I wanted a “quiet” and different shaped pillow so I got that great lumbar and to finish it off purchased that two-toned throw. It’s so so soft and perfect to cozy up with. 10/10

Just wanted to show you more details on that table. How pretty are the main stand and ball feet on the table??? Oh, and I guess I’ll finally write my love letter to my IKEA DIY floors:)

But this is where I started. Simple enough right? WRONG.

My balcony isn’t perfectly rectangular so I had to layout, mark, cut with a jigsaw, and then paint. It took alllllll day. It was a beast of a project but then…

a lot more work but getting VERY worth it.

Floor Tiles | Cream Paint (heirloom white in satin) | Blue Paint (midnight blue in satin)

I don’t think I could have imagined them to turn out so perfect. But let me tell you (again) that after I had finished measuring the space (not equally rectangle), organizing them, painting them (with SO MUCH help from my friend Emily. No not Boss Emily and not Bowser Emily:)), and then installing them, I said, “this is why I don’t do DIYs like this”. They are so much work. HOWEVER, once they were finally done I was over the actual moon and thought it was totally worth it. It’s funny how that works. Also, hats off to the real DIYers out there. You are incredible.

I do want to say a few things on this particular DIY though. I don’t recommend it for high-traffic areas. Despite using a double primer spray paint, they chip so so easily. The tiles are plastic so there’s only so much you can do. Wood ones are available in this larger scale (not at IKEA) but they’re just pretty pricey and I couldn’t swing it. So since I only have room to take about two steps on each side, it works for me. Just wanted to give you the real deal, especially since it’s not necessarily a quick project.

Solar String Lights

From this angle, you can actually see my solar string lights! They have to be pretty high up so I can open my tall doors but they give off a really nice soft glow (not super bright FYI) which I like for this space and the neighborhood. I also added in a few lanterns for added light when I’m out there.

Before and after time? You bet…

So there is it. Au revoir, my sweet friends. I hope that you get to enjoy every last second of this warm (maybe too warm) weather while we have it. My communal patio reveal is next but likely before that you get to set your eyeballs on Caitlin’s amazing balcony!! We couldn’t shoot the same day and she’s now out east for a few weeks so that’s the only reason why there will be a slight hold up. WE BOTH WON THE RACE! Friendship furniture forever:)

Love you, mean it.

*Design by Jess Bunge (Me!)
**Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
***Emotional Design Support by Caitlin Higgins