Perhaps it is the romance behind the design. After all, it is where Juliet urged her Romeo to “deny thy father and refuse thy name.” Or perhaps it is the European charm it adds to a building’s facade. More likely, it is because it’s an inexpensive version of that amenity that everyone seems to want when apartment searching … a balcony … but without the major renovation, building codes, and high price tag.
Yes, I’m talking about the Juliet balcony.
A Juliet balcony is actually a false balcony – an outside railing across sliding or French doors, or even oversized windows. If they have a ledge at all, it is barely wide enough for a person to stand on and putting a table and chair on your balcony is impossible. So, while they look nice from outside the building and they may make you feel as though you are living in a charming apartment in Venice, what exactly can you do with a Juliet balcony?
If you have the floor space and you want that bistro table, create your own indoor “balcony.” Place the table near the windows/doors that open to the Juliet balcony and then add low plant shelves, bookcases, privacy screens, etc. around the area to create a sense of privacy and separation from the rest of your apartment. When you open your balcony doors/windows, you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as though you were outdoors.
Scale it down. If you have a small ledge – large enough for small planters – consider yourself lucky! Many Juliet balconies don’t even have that. Since you have it, use it! Think small – an herb garden planted in teacups, a tabletop fountain, a trellis and a climbing vine, or a repurposed shoe rack as a plant shelf. When planning the space, try to picture one of those office-desk Zen gardens – the ones with the sand and tiny rake. You can create something similar on your balcony. Picture a tiny water feature surrounded by river rocks and painted wood planks separating the spaces. Add a few candles and some planters holding succulents and when you open the doors to your balcony, you’ll have a (small) private oasis.
If you have enough space to step fully outside, then you can add seating – even if it isn’t the traditional patio table and chairs. A scaled-back wood bench (either make one yourself or measure the space and have one made for you), a floor pillow, a beanbag chair, a club chair, or an antique step stool will give you a place to relax and enjoy the cool evenings.
When looking for ideas to create an outdoor space on a very-narrow-to-barely-there balcony, try looking at stores that cater to RV owners and boaters – these items are scaled down to fit in small spaces and can easily be incorporated into your balcony space. Look for tiny folding tables and chairs, trays that hook on the railing, and pillows covered in water-resistant fabric.
No matter how small, you can find use for your Juliet balcony – fill it with fragrant plants and when you open the doors/windows, the scent will fill your apartment. Or, just stand out there and scan the horizon …watch the sunset … and perhaps quote Shakespeare … “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”