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.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.