In the five years I’ve lived in my apartment, I’ve rearranged furniture, painted walls, installed shelves and rigged lighting to make the space feel like home. But there’s something I haven’t done yet that’s long overdue: turn my fire escape into a place I’d want to spend time.
On a hot summer day, there’s just about nothing worse than being stuck inside with nowhere to enjoy the beautiful weather but this year, I decided to change that.
My fire escape is pretty small, only 5′ by 6′, but it’s 100% mine, with no other tenants sharing the stairs. Last summer, I was given a small barbecue that attached to the metal railing and I loved cooking dinner outside – I just didn’t want to eat it out there thanks to the cold metal grate underfoot and uninviting ambience. But I knew the space had potential.
So in anticipation of this summer ahead, I decided it was time to turn the industrial space into an inviting outdoor patio and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Read on to see how I pulled it all together.
The wide gaps and uncomfortable metal of a fire escape floor are an unpleasant surface and I figured the first step to fixing up my deck would be to cover it. I originally considered those easy-to-install wooden tiles from IKEA, but reviews said that they weathered poorly.
Instead, I opted for a woven PVC outdoor rug from Canadian Tire for $80. It took only a couple minutes to install and its cheerful green pattern instantly revitalized the space. Plus, I love that the colour reminds me of a freshly cut lawn. Things were off to a great start.
The next pieces I added were a few tropical plants: one that I already had inside, and a couple I bought for the deck. With their large size and fun foliage, they added life and colour into the space.
The fire escape has a light that only turns on at sunset, but I’d removed the bulb since it made my room too bright at night. Since there’s no outdoor electrical outlet, I found a light socket adaptor at Canadian Tire that turns it into an electrical outlet, and it conveniently has a pull switch to turn it on and off.
After experimenting with a couple faulty sets of LED string lights, I landed on an incandescent set I found at Homesense for $30. They were the perfect length, meant for outdoor use and I loved how the metal cages around the bulbs added an industrial touch, as well as protects the bulbs.
As a trial run, I hauled out some furniture from inside to make sure the deck would be a place I’d want to sit and boy, was it ever. But I didn’t love the idea of dragging chairs in and out every time I wanted to use the deck so I decided to get some outdoor seating.
Initially, I was going to get this cheap IKEA set but when I saw it person, it was big, heavy, and difficult to fold. After a lengthy in-store deliberation, I decided to get one folding chair ($40) and a matching stool ($20) that can double as a small table. Perfect.
If I do have a guest, it won’t be any trouble to bring out a chair from inside. And with only two pieces of furniture, they tuck away nicely when folded.
5. The Finishing Touches
With all the basics in place, it was time to pull it all together with some decor. I found a couple seat cushions and an adorable starburst mirror at H&M Home and used leftover pinecone Christmas decorations for a natural touch. With cozy textiles like a sheepskin throw and candles for ambience, my fire escape was finally transformed into the outdoor retreat I’ve always wanted.
Now that it’s ready, I can’t wait for a hot summer day to sit outside, eat my breakfast and read, or have company over for a cold cocktail.
Safety First: Of course, when I’m not using the space, everything is put away to not block it in the event of an actual fire.
I hope this has inspired you to make the most of whatever outdoor space you have access to! Have you ever transformed a small deck?