Brooklyn Patio Makeover
See how one New York couple enlarged their living space by turning a small underused patio into a beautiful lounge area.
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In the fall of 2011 I visited my friends Sarah Raskin and John Kerl at their Brooklyn, N.Y., home, a fifth-floor two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a six-story building built in 2009. After cocktails over cheese and crackers, the couple gave me a glimpse of one of the property's biggest selling points: a 9-by-10-foot covered patio with a stellar view of Manhattan. Although the extra 90 square feet of living space was a major plus, neither Sarah nor John knew how to make the most of it.
Sarah notes, "We love being outside, and we loved the idea of spending time on our patio, but we felt pretty limited by the space. Building code prohibited us from having a grill. We don't exactly sunbathe. So we set up a small metal bistro table and chairs and would sometimes have dinner while looking at Lower Manhattan. But the setup wasn't really comfortable, and we knew that we weren't taking full advantage of the space. We wondered if there was a way to make it function more as a living room, where we could hang out in addition to dining al fresco when the weather was nice."
Determined to give them an outdoor area for lounging, reading, hosting guests and hanging out with newborn daughter, Orly, and John's tween daughter, Emily, I decided to design the space just like an indoor living room, except strictly incorporate materials meant for indoor-outdoor use. Although I was excited to turn the lackluster space into something fresh, fun and functional, dealing with the stucco building's flesh-toned exterior and the beige, tan and peach tile flooring made the process much trickier.
The first step in the transformation was to introduce a bright, new cheery palette. Since the majority of the space's existing beige and tan color scheme comes from its dated flooring, it was important to cover it and then introduce brand-new colors with an indoor/outdoor area rug. Sarah was especially happy to say farewell to the patio's lackluster tile and overall lack of color, stating, "On the one hand, the tan stucco exterior is just awful. So blah! On the other hand, it was a good neutral base that wouldn't clash with whatever design we pursued, which is great because we wanted to liven up the environment with color and John's newfound love of container gardening."
After searching online, my team and I came across a graphic transitional 8-by-10-foot acrylic rug (which is mildew- and moisture-resistant) featuring shades of citrus green and deep blue. Since the interior of the couple's apartment is decorated in green, it was an excellent way to unite the interior and exterior. Once laid in place, the tile was hidden almost completely from view, turning focus to the rug's color and pattern.
Next on the list: space planning. Since the interiors were lacking in entertaining space, the best use of the covered outdoor patio was for lounging -- with a strong emphasis on comfort. "Our bistro table and chairs were fine for just us and just dinner, but they weren't comfortable enough for extended lounging. And they were too bulky to have enough of them to have other people over. We thought about an outdoor sofa but weren't really sure how to make it work with the sliding glass doors and air conditioning vent," Sarah adds.
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