The Washington Post

House Calls: A balcony makeover

This Arlington balcony had some daunting design limitations


Ruthie and Rudi Peksens' balcony. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Arlington couple Ruthie and Rudi Peksens have a sixth-floor balcony with some daunting design limitations: Nothing can be attached to the walls except to replace what’s already there; the narrow space doesn’t fit much furniture; and wind gusts tend to knock things over. The Peksenses want seating to entertain guests, along with space to relax, but they need suggestions for a functional layout.


The solution. (Julius Goyanko for The Washington Post)

Designer Shannon Bieter finds solutions to the wind and condo restrictions with paint, color and space-appropriate furniture.Bieter, of Shannon Bieter Interiors, (202-904-1037,, is based in the District.

An outdoor sectional in the corner gives the Peksenses a spot to gather with guests that doesn’t block doors.

Painted stripes along the railing wall add contrast and depth to the narrow balcony. Try Benjamin Moore’s Dove White.

A small bistro table and chairs can be folded up and moved inside on a particularly windy day.

Another windy weather solution: Use seating cushions that can be tied down.

Two outdoor rugs ground and define the seating areas.

Tall trellis planters bring privacy and greenery to the outdoor space.


Furniture: Chesapeake armless chair ($294), armless sectional cushion in Ink Blue canvas ($104), Chesapeake corner chair ($424) and sectional cushion in Ink Blue canvas ($125), all from; Amalfi bench in Pesto ($199) and bench cushion in geometric blue ($59 for 44-by-18-inch cushion), both from; La Palma end table ($100,; Eucalyptus chaise longue ($143,; Carmody chaise longue cushion ($75,

Accessories: Cayman outdoor rug ($99 for 5-by-8-foot rug), geometric pillow in blue ($25 for 16-inch square pillow) and Suzani pillow in Honeysuckle ($35 for 20-inch square pillow), all from; Western red cedar wood planter and trellis set ($280,


Sunburst Mirror. (Wayfair)

All-Weather Wicker Bistro Round Table Set. (Hayneedle)

Wicker bistro round table set in brown ($334, www.

Sunburst mirror in gold ($447.50,

. . . OR SAVE

Metal Sunburst Mirror. (Target)

Folding All-Weather Wicker 3-Piece Bistro Table and Chairs Set. (Rakuten)

Wicker bistro round table set ($168,

Metal sunburst mirror in aged gold ($35,

More from The Washington Post

See past room makeovers by local designers here

Tell us about your design challenge: Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to

Margaret Ely is a digital editor for Lifestyle. Previously, she was an intern for the Post’s Metro section.
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