Transformable balcony bench

Aug 4, 2020 | Interior | 0 comments

Furnishing a small balcony is not that easy. Furnishing a small balcony with an angled shape is even harder. Looking around for inspiration I found a lot of beautiful little tables and chairs but I also wanted something cozy. As a family of four, we don’t really fit around a table to sit down for a meal out there anymore. Even if we used tiny foldable chairs, it would be a tight fit and so they would just end up out there unused. I decided the balcony needed to be a very comfy place, one that we actually use and enjoy and also looks nice and inviting.
It also needed to be a much cleaner place. So it all started with a good scrubbing of the balcony floor as well as laying out the previously random pattern properly again. The previous owners had placed the decking tiles in random directions and after cleaning and rearranging them, most of the spiders had moved in with us, but the new look was well worth a few eight-legged roommates.
I drew up the balcony in SketchUp to see if I could move around some furniture models and find something that would fit. I didn’t. So I modeled basic shapes along the contours of our balcony. There were basically two good spots for building a bench: along the long side of the railing for a sunchair position and around the angled corner for a more social setup. And by building the angled bench in two pieces, I could turn the modules around to become one long straight bench as well. The transformable bench idea was born.

At first, I thought it would be tricky to get the angle right. How would I measure it? And how big should the sofa be anyway? Too big and it would take over the balcony, too small and it would not be the cozy couch I was going for.

But I simply made a simple surface mockup out of newspaper on the balcony floor to try out the size and get an exact pattern for the shape, measurements and angles. Easy as that!
So off to the workshop to put my plan into action. I used big, cheap decking-squares to cut out the top of the benches. This made the construction faster and easier and I wanted to spend the budget on really big comfy cushioning. For the legs and supports, I used weatherproofed construction wood and the wood that was left after cutting out the seats from the decking. I had underestimated the amount of construction wood I needed, and having no car I had to make do with the leftovers. But it turned out perfectly, better for the environment, better for my purse. I ended up with almost no waste at all 🙂
For the cushions, I ordered the foam for the seats cut to size. Luckily we have a big bike trailer for the kids, so I could transport all the material, haha.

The backrest I pieced together myself so I could adjust the stuffing to be a bit softer in the front for comfort, and a bit stiffer in the back for stability. Then I covered the foam pieces with batting to fill out the covers nicely and give the cushions a soft and rounded look.

I wanted the fabric for the sofa to be full of joy and color. But I had a hard time finding patterned furniture fabric in the nearby stores. The door and window frames around the balcony, as well as the railing, are painted in a soft green color that I love. So my first thought was to match that tone. But then my spouse had an even better idea. The house we live in is built from yellow brick that makes up the sidewalls of the balcony. He suggested a beautiful mustard tone that both reflected the joyful look I was going for and fit well into the space. And with mustard yellow being so popular now, I had no trouble finding a good and durable fabric to sew the sofa cushions from.
Since completing this custom build we have spent so much more time on our balcony and it almost feels like we have an extra room when the weather is nice. 

Also, I am really proud of the result and of having accomplished it mostly during naptime, on evenings plus one amazing workshop day I got to spend in the makerspace.

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