Designing for Small Outdoor Spaces

Last year at this time, we were still living in Union Hill, and even though we had purchased our new house, we wouldn’t be moving until August 11th. One of the things about the Union Hill home, was the only outdoor living space was a 17 by 8 foot balcony. It wasn’t small, but the long narrow footprint made it slightly hard to use. We weren’t going to have a big gas grill, table, chairs, and umbrella out on it. There just wasn’t enough room. While living at the old house, I was always looking for well designed, functional, space-saving ways to get more use out of the balcony.  I wanted real world solutions that would actually work, and looked good. Below are a few products I wish I had known about 5 or 6 years ago that would have made my outdoor living experience in Union Hill a bit better.

I love this table. It attaches to the deck railing and using a cantilever support system creates a temporary dining spot for two. It can support up to 50 pounds, and gives you a work surface of 35 inches by 17 inches. Plenty of space for just two people. The table costs $69.95 and can be purchased from Preferred Living.

This grill would work great if we had a metal rail, and concrete platform, but it would have been a fire waiting to happen on our wooden patio/deck. I really mean that. I wouldn’t even think of using this around any wood surfaces . In the ten years we lived in Union Hill there were three deck fires caused by grills on wooden patios and decks, and my neighbor set his deck on fire but put it out before he burned his house and mine to the ground. Now with that said, I think this is a pretty clever idea. The grill fits over the railing edge and hangs inside your balcony. The grill looks like a flower box, and has a small but effective work area. Designed by Henrik Drecker, Bruce Grill, is available at Random Good Stuff.

Speaking of flower boxes, why settle for those ugly ass, green plastic things they sell at Home Depot and Lowes, when you can have something that looks as once as German company Rephorm‘s flower boxes. These plastic boxes come in a variety of colors, and sizes. They slip over the railing on your balcony, and the weight of the soil inside them keeps them stable in the wind and rain. In addition to hanging on your railing, the flat bottom allows them to be placed on the balcony surface or brought indoors in the winter months.