“I turned my balcony into an oasis”


Ola Tereshenko, 41

HR professional, North York

I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my fiancé and my 10-year-old son. I always had plans for the balcony but never found the time.

During the pandemic, we were stuck inside except for the occasional walk and trip to the grocery store. The grey landscape out my window plunged me into an existential crisis, and looking at my balcony didn’t help: I’d seen mausoleums with more appeal.

I had a vision for what it could be: warm, natural colours and a Moroccan-style rug with interesting shapes. In terms of feel, I wanted to evoke a serene forest, like walking into A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I bought some bright yellow pillows from IKEA. I took a side table I already had and painted it dark brown. I wanted some lavender as well as maiden grass and basil, but nurseries near me had lineups around the block. So off to Barrie I went, and I loaded up on flowers. I also found some string lights on Amazon and terracotta pots at the thrift store. Then I put everything together. All told, I spent $400.

Now, in the mornings, I enjoy a cup of tea on the balcony, and I pop out occasionally around lunch to pluck some basil for a salad. My favourite time is the evening, when the air cools and I can have a glass of wine and watch the sunset, with the string lights twinkling in the dark.

The new space makes our small apartment feel that much bigger and gives me a place to escape to when I need some time to myself.

Lately, I’ve noticed that people in the building opposite ours have spruced up their balconies, too. I’m like, wait a minute—did I inadvertently start the great balcony wars of 2020?

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