Our Patio Makeover

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds

When you live in Vancouver, space comes at a premium and you learn to enjoy each square foot of your city condo to its fullest. The boy and I have done a pretty good job making the interior of our home cozy, but when it comes to our balcony we've been ambivalent at best. All that changed a couple weeks ago when I suddenly became obsessed with turning the patio into a little urban oasis. Visions of myself leisurely drinking my morning coffee, flipping through magazines, colouring, or finishing up wedding tasks outside danced in my head. But, where to start?

Truthfully, our patio has a lot going for it. We have a view, for one. It's east-facing so we get a lot of direct sun in the mornings, followed by shady and breezy afternoons and evenings. The shape is a bit awkward—long and skinny—but as far as condo patios go it's spacious enough to be comfortable.

However, it wasn't the homiest, most welcoming place. Everything was dirty and dingy from neglect, including the bench (never re-stained) and side tables given to us by the boy's brother and sister-in-law, and the cushions I bought on clearance at West Elm a few years ago. The painted concrete was scratchy and dirt was embedded in the little dents and divots. Oh, and that random flip-flop in the bottom right corner? The boy forgot them on the patio for two years and they'd started to petrify in the sun.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds - before shot

We started by giving everything a good scrub: the bench and tables, the windows and patio door, the glass panes, the floor, even the railing. Just cleaning made a huge difference. I wish I could say I was clever enough to purposely take the "before" and "after" photos during cloudy and sunny periods, respectively, but that was all pure coincidence.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds - before shot

The patio came together over two weekends and a couple trips to IKEA. First, we laid down wood tiling and stained that, as well as the newly cleaned bench. In the process we discovered that if we rotated the bench and put it against the far end of the patio, it freed up enough space to seat four.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds: Runnen brown wood tiling for decks and Applaro bench

At the boy's urging, we bought two narrow folding bistro chairs so we could entertain guests on the patio on hot summer nights. We also picked up two solar-powered LED lanterns for ambient evening lighting, sans the hassle of wires or batteries. (They recharge really well as long as you get lots of light.)

Here's the after shot, one more time:

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds: Runnen wood tiling, Applaro bench, Askholmen folding wooden chairs, white Solvinden LED solar-powered table lamp

The cushions were as good as new after a good wash.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover: IKEA Applaro bench and Solvinden white LED solar-powered table lamp, West Elm orange lumbar support cushions

I rinsed out the anchor doormat that had been on the patio before, and moved the extra side table beside the door to create walkway space and flow in the seating area. If needed, we can always move the side table to the seating area for extra space for drinks, appies, etc.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds: Runnen wood outdoor deck tiles, watering can, Solvinden LED solar-powered table lamp in white

My favourite spot is definitely the herb garden. After studying countless patio photos on Pinterest for inspiration, I concluded that we definitely needed a bit of greenery to make the patio feel more homey; choosing edible herbs was just killing two birds with one stone. The plant stand, hanging planters, and white planters are all IKEA. We picked up the terra cotta and plastic liner pots and potting soil from Canadian Tire. The herbs themselves (cilantro, parsley, rosemary, lavender, basil, mint, dill) are a mix of Canadian Tire and Whole Foods.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds: Herb garden using PS 2014 white plant stand, Socker planters. Terra cotta planters from Canadian Tire.

To say I'm excited about the herb garden is an understatement: I've been wanting to do this for a couple years and never taken the plunge. Every morning I check on their progress and give them a little water, and I can't wait to watch the seedlings grow. I'm already fantasizing about fresh mint muddled into summer cocktails, basil sprinkled on caprese salads, cilantro in guacamole, sprigs of dill on baked salmon with lemon. Yum.

Vancouver city condo apartment small space patio makeover using IKEA finds: Herb garden using PS 2014 white plant stand, Socker planters. Terra cotta planters from Canadian Tire.

Sources

6 comments

  1. This looks great Lisa! I'm very envious that you have outdoor space at all, it's something I'm definitely lacking. Plants do so much to bring a space together and they're so soothing to care for :)

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    1. They really are! Before this we just had the low-maintenance, hard-to-kill succulents and jade plant, so the herb garden is a step forward. Transplanting the seedlings into larger pots was surprisingly relaxing.

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  2. Lisa, this looks soooo beautiful! It makes me wish we had a patio at our flat too.
    You guys did an amazing job! I especially love the wooden tiles you guys got. And your herb garden is perfection!
    I hope you are having perfect weather right so you can enjoy it this weekend!
    xoxox,
    Lar

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    1. Thanks, Lar! The weather has been gorgeous here. We actually harvested a few basil, mint and parsley pinchings this evening and used them in an Italian-inspired summer on the patio. It was such a smug Martha Stewart moment haha.

      Hope you're enjoying equally gorgeous weather in Seattle!

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  3. Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for the inspiration. We are new to Van and have a similar area to work with. Love the post. Would love a source list, similar to the source list that you get on apartment therapy.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mark, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the feedback re. a source list.

      If you scroll back through the post, I've hyperlinked to all the items as I've talked about them; just click the link to find out where to purchase. For the most part, as I mentioned in the post, everything comes from IKEA or Canadian Tire.

      Welcome to Vancouver!

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