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This Feature Was Never One of My Apartment Must-Haves, But It's a Total Game Changer

Outdoor balcony with table.

Heather Bien

There are many features I prioritized when searching for apartments over the years. A washer and dryer in the building, a kitchen that isn’t too cramped, and architectural details topped my list. But having lived in my current unit for slightly over a year now, there’s one additional characteristic that I’ll be sure to add to my list moving forward: and that’s a screened-in balcony. 

In Washington, D.C. where I currently live, balconies are fairly common when living in larger apartment buildings. However, most of the ones that I’ve seen don’t also feature a screen, a feature that I’ve found to be especially critical during my extended time at home this past year.

Because of the screen, I’ve been able to deck out my balcony with furniture meant for indoor spaces and haven’t run into any issues with pieces showing wear from the elements. Last fall, I purchased a super cozy rattan cocoon chair from World Market that I love to sit in while I read on lazy afternoons. I also set up a small bistro table and two chairs, which has become the perfect spot to work, sip a cup of coffee, or enjoy a meal.

Cocoon chair on balcony.

Heather Bien

Even though the view outside my window isn’t anything to write home about, I’ll admit that there’s something about sipping wine outside at my little round marble table that makes me feel slightly Parisian (the wanderlust is hitting me hard these days). Plus, as someone who loves to decorate, the balcony serves as an extra room of sorts for me to design, which has brought me all kinds of joy. 

But better yet, my balcony has provided a little escape during those moments when I was tired of being cooped up in my apartment, yet haven’t been able to go anywhere. I don't have a car, so making a quick getaway is challenging and has only gotten less feasible over the past few months. But it’s true what they say: sometimes even the most simple change of scenery can make a difference in making the day feel a little less monotonous.

Being able to shift my perspective without having to put on shoes has been a game changer, and I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’ve noticed many of my friends prioritizing balconies and patio spaces when apartment hunting, simply because having a little outdoor (or in my case, outdoor-ish) oasis can be so valuable during current times. 

Close-up of cocoon chair.

Heather Bien

And if you have a screened-in balcony but are struggling to decorate it, look no further. A small table and two chairs will serve many purposes, but there are many ways to get creative with additional décor. Place a bar cart outside and use it to hold drinks and appetizers when entertaining, or add plants (faux may be your best bet) to add some green to your space. Install globe lights or hang lanterns for extra coziness. Last but not least, a petite indoor/outdoor rug is an excellent way to add color and texture and will feel good on your feet. Your space will be the envy of your neighbors in no time.