Monday, July 17, 2017

Balcony Upgrade - Lighting & Storage + Coasters & Rules

Your darn tootin' I can't just do a quick clean-up and then move on! The addenda and details just keep comin'! I am Tara. These are projects. It is the order of things.

Annnnnnyway, while working on tuning up the balcony I remembered pinning some kind of solar outdoor lamp projects and I had pinned some kinds of solar outdoor lamps. You see, there is no porch light out there. No electric light whatsoever. So I made these for the tables out there. I looked at a couple different tutorials for both chandeliers (here and here) and table lamps (here) to figure out how to do wall-mounted fixtures.

The search for some used, inexpensive fixtures began! Luckily, I only had to try two stores before finding something suitable. Thank you Home ReSource! Sure, I would've liked to have gotten them for less than $10/each, but they're actually pretty high quality - cast brass bases and the like.

They were in pretty good shape! I feel lucky that the finish was already suitable for our space - I was resigned to the idea that I'd be painting over brass or brushed nickel. All I had to do was remove a little latex paint & those irritating labels using rubbing alcohol, remove the wiring, and figure out how to keep it all together.

I understand many or maybe all the reasons we need to have these wattage labels on electric light fixtures, why they need to be where anyone changing the bulbs will see them, and why the adhesive needs to keep them on there under extreme conditions. That said, C'MON! We're spending money and time to get the fixture that LOOKS nice! It CANNOT look nice with this ugly label on there. Figure out a better place! Geez.

It seems like a lot of the tutorials found online use dollar store solar lights - the kind with stakes for lining paths and driveways. I hope that using something a little spendier means they will last longer, be brighter, stay on longer. Mine were just under $5.00 each at a home center and claim to be about 5 lumens.

I just detached the stakes, wrapped a little double-sided foam tape around the part of the light that had stuck into the stake, and stuck them into the sockets of my fixtures.

Here's the deal: because there is no electricity involved and the lights themselves are meant to be outdoors, I could turn the fixtures upside down. The upside to that is that it made it easy to find a fixture that allows the solar cells to point up and be uncovered. The downside is that because the tops of the glass covers are not the bottom, they will collect dead bugs, dust, and pollen.

It was a struggle, but I was able to stay awake until they turned on.

Overall the lighting aspect of this balcony upgrade cost: $20 + 9.96 = $29.96!


It also seemed like a good idea to have a little spot to store a few items that are specifically for the balcony, but maybe are best not left out all the time. A little on-house mailbox seemed like a quick and easy solution for this and luckily I found one at the Habitat ReStore for $5! But of course, it needed a little tuning up.

I removed the newspaper holder underneath, scraped off the dried glue, sanded, then spray painted it. It's brown primer covered with matte clear on the outside and copper on the inside. All paints I had on hand! Which keeps the cost of this project at $5, because I already had screws to hang it with, too.

I haven't found something to cover the holes that held the missing emblem or nameplate that was on the mailbox originally, yet...

What is stored in there now is a rag for wiping dust and pollen off the table and chairs should they need it, coasters (see below), and a bottle opener.

Because the bistro table has a glass top and I went to all the trouble to refinish that side table (there's 8 layers of stuff on there, folks!), I decided to make coasters for them. I even had all the materials on hand for these, too. YEY! Free coasters!

Perfect spot for an iced latte of a July morning.

Sealed scrapbook paper on top, copper Lustre Stone on the sides, and...

... cork on the bottom.

Oh! And I decided that the rejuvenated balcony would be the perfect spot for this piece that I inherited from Sol a few years back. I had a full set of the medium-sized letters that I scored on Ebay at a screaming deal shortly after he gave it to me and now Jo-Ann has those big ones (and a few other sizes) in several colors for a WAY better price than the office supply places, so I got a set of the 2" white ones.

I found several variations of a sign such as this on pinterest and selected the phrases that best fit us and our intended uses of our "new" spot. Oh, yeah. And if figured out how to cover those holes in the mailbox where there had originally been a plaque of some sort.

It's shrink plastic for ink jet printers! I made up a sign in a photo editing software, printed it on the plastic, then shrunk it in the oven as per the instructions. I added some glossy "triple-thick" glaze, glued a magnet on the back, et voila! I already had all the supplies, so I still have only spent $5 on re-purposing this! WOO!


  1. That is super creative and looks amazing!! I love repurposing things, I'm currently sprucing up a little dog house given to me by my sister-in-law. I'm excited about it and will post pics on Facebook when I'm done. What's your next project?

    1. Thank you! I can't wait to see your doghouse project! I have always wanted to build a dog house - like a mini people house - but at first I didn't have a dog and now I have a dog who wouldn't use a dog house.

      Next up: lots of sewing. But hopefully working on modifying some screen doors and getting them installed.

  2. I love your brain. This makeover is magnificent. Now I want to make solar lights.

    1. Aw, shucks. THANK YOU! You should make solar lights - the hardest part was finding fixtures suitable to modifying for it in a style that fit us.

  3. Those lights are great. While I love how pitch dark it is in the evenings there, a little light is nice. No one wants to step on a pinecone that a cute dog decided to bring onto the porch because it was too dark to see.


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