Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Bigger Balcony

Filling the newly created alcove
One thing you can rarely do when you live in an apartment is to build an extension onto your living space.

In Israel there have been and still are, a number of programmes whereby the whole building is encouraged to get together and build an extra room and/or a balcony for every apartment. There are a number of reasons for this: they want every home to have a reinforced-concrete room rather than the communal bomb shelters of old, every building should be up to date with earthquake regulations, and they want to create more housing by building additional floors on top.

In my building we got in early and reinforced the building according to earthquake regulations whilst acquiring an extra bedroom and a balcony. We were too early to get the bomb shelters or for the building-up programme, so in emergency situations we're still running down to the communal shelter and we didn't get it for free by selling the building rights to the roof.

When they plan these extensions they have to work with the space available. Thus, we ended up with three big bedrooms but one accessed through one of the other bedrooms, and a balcony that was just slightly too narrow for four people to sit around a big enough table and dine comfortably. The bedroom problem was easily solved by building a wall to create a corridor to the third bedroom. Luckily the doors to both bedrooms were aligned.

Starting work
The balcony situation was irritating. Had I been more savvy about things back when we did that building work almost 20 years ago, I would have fought for less bedroom and more balcony at the front. Back then I might have lost because there were strict laws about how near the property boundary one could build. Now it seems that other buildings are renovating right up to the pavement in front of them. Who knows. It was what it was and I was stuck with it. Or was I?

I needed new balcony doors. I'd decluttered so much over the past two years that I have minimal furniture in the living/dining room. I'd got rid of an enormous sofa and replaced it with two smaller love seats. By building one wall 50 cm into the room on one side of the balcony doors, I could increase the balcony space by a whole square metre (0.5 x 2 sq m). There's no getting away from the fact that that the room would be smaller. You can't have both. I chose a slightly smaller living room and a more usable balcony.

A bigger balcony (before the cabinet arrived for the alcove)
Whilst I was at it, I had the electric blinds removed. They blocked a lot of light from the room and I'd rather just have fabric roller blinds inside. You can get very thin roller blinds that take up almost no space when closed.

The newly created alcove in the corner is the perfect size for a white Billy bookcase with Oxberg glass doors from IKEA. This was by far the cheapest option for a display cabinet to fill that space and as you can only see the doors, there was no reason not to buy a cheap IKEA unit.

Obviously everyone has their own considerations and preferences. For me outside space is paramount and it was very satisfying to find a way to increase our capacity for a mini-garden, eating alfresco, and a place for drying the laundry in the sun.


  1. I love it! It's amazing that you were able to do this - and given all the other rooms that you and DD have in the apt., I agree that more outdoor space was the star choice! Enjoy.

    1. Thanks Margie. I'm already enjoying the space to manoeuvre when hanging out the washing. Sitting in the sun will have to wait a bit. It's sunny outside today but still too cold.

    2. If it's any consolation - with the windchill factor - it was minus -30C when I left for work this morning! :-)

    3. Wow, I can't even imagine being out in that cold. I think though, that there is a certain amount of preparedness involved. We suffer in 2 deg, C because we're not used it, the homes are not built to withstand this cold, we don't know how to dress for it and don't have suitable clothes for it. If it snows even 1mm all the schools are closed for the day.