My Great Outdoors: Art and Chel's Modern Balcony Kitchen

cooking on the balcony outdoors in the city2009greatoutdoorsbadge.gifName: Art and Chel
Location: Chicago
Type of space: Balcony
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: My balcony is an extension of my kitchen and home. I have experimented with all kinds of furniture arrangement, surfaces and growing over the past two seasons, and this season I am finally satisfied with the layout and look. Chelsea and I (and Porkchop) enjoy our balcony in the warm months by cooking and relaxing on it as much as we can. When the sliding door is open it as if we have an open air living room and kitchen. It's a great place to share food and drinks with family and friends.

How did you create it?
Chelsea and I envisioned a clean and modern look for the balcony. Most of the plant pots and boxes are from IKEA. We really like the design of the white pots and the way they look all lined up. We are really proud of the floor surface which is a composite landscaping tile that transforms the look of the basic brushed concrete. The plants are a combination of herbs, domestic and wild ornamentals, a Patio tomato, Sweet 100 tomato, lettuce and kale seedlings, piquillo and Padron pepper seedlings.

The ornamental flowers are geraniums and petunias which can stand up to the intense sunlight which hits the western exposed balcony in the afternoon. Other ornamentals are a hanging fuschia and "wild" plants such as milkweed, black-eyed susan, honey suckle and prairie grass.

Herbs consist of anise hysopp, parsley, thyme, chervil, rosemary dill, lavender, spearmint and basil.

For cooking, we have a simple off-brand propane grill. I purchased the grill based on its actual grill surface which is fairly heavy duty and also because of its lack of accessories which I don't need. I chose propane because we are on a balcony but simply throw handfuls of wood chips on the grates while grilling to produce smoke flavor. I also have a small plug-in fryer and an outlet on the balcony to incorporate some deep-fried fun while keeping the greasy mess outside.

The balcony furniture so far is Ikea. I have sawed off the two ends of the table so that it is custom-fit to our balcony.

Recommended store, site, product or resource?
• I would highly recommend VAST for the floor pavers. This product looks really cool, it feels nice under your feet, it's lightweight and drains and it's made out of recycled material.
• IKEA is a great place for cool plant pots — you may have to drill drainage holes though.
• Your local farmer's market is a great source for herbs, vegetable plants and flowers.
• Of course I have to recommend Apartment Therapy for all kinds of inspiration when it comes to getting ideas for creating a great outdoor space!

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