Living in an older building has its charms. From crown mold ceilings to directly connected rooms, these apartments definitely have a certain appeal to them.
Another feature of older apartments that we absolutely love is the balcony-style fire escapes.
If you live in an older building that doesn’t have actual balconies but somewhat bigger fire escapes, don’t feel bad about the supposed loss.
A bigger fire escape is a perfect blank canvas for the balcony of your dreams. It also gives you extra living space extended outside of your apartment.
A fire escape can be designed to serve different purposes and can become a space for you to spend your free time in.
Whether you’re looking for a reading nook or a place to have your morning coffee, a balcony fire escape is a perfect space for you to make use of.
Read ahead for six ideas on how you can repurpose your fire escape and transform it into a living space that is comfortable, functional, and stylish, too!
6 Ideas for Repurposing Your Fire Escape Balcony
Before we start, however, there are a few things to consider regarding fire escape safety. The first is your area regulations.
While there aren’t any federal laws restricting you from using and decorating your fire escape as you please, there may be building rules or city and state regulations that restrict you from doing so.
So, before you get started, it would be a good idea to check out your rental agreement or housing association manual just to ensure you’re allowed to use your fire escape for any other purpose.
Next, you need to consider just how old you’re building and the fire escape structures are.
If the balcony fire escape is very old, the metal can become worn out and rusty, meaning that it likely cannot hold too much weight safely.
Before anything else, you need to keep your safety in mind. Therefore, be sure to check out the fire escape carefully and maybe call in a professional to do a safety inspection.
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started on the different ways you can decorate and use your balcony fire escape!
A Mini Garden
The biggest downside to living in an apartment for some people is the lack of garden space, especially if you love gardening and enjoy being around plants and nature.
While you can always keep a few potted plants inside, it’s really not the same, is it?
A fire escape balcony gives you the opportunity to get as close to a real garden as possible in an apartment. You can turn your fire escape into a mini garden for yourself!
You can get small planters and set them up on the balcony. Whether you choose house plants or vegetables, fruits, and herbs, that’s entirely up to you.
While you may not be able to grow enough to sustain yourself, you can definitely grow smaller plants like strawberries, chilies, and various different herbs.
In order to avoid blocking the entire fire escape with pots and planters on the floor, try to get some railing planters that can be attached to the fire escape railings, leaving the floor space free for use.
You can also find hanging planters that can be hung along the fire escape stairs and on the outside of the railings as well.
A Small Smoking Area
Do you enjoy smoking a cigarette or two after a long, tiring day? You should be able to do that in peace without worrying about the smell settling into your entire apartment or having to awkwardly bend out of a window to exhale.
A fire escape can be the perfect smoking area where you can smoke in peace and not worry about the smell seeping into your home.
You don’t really need much to set up a smoking area. A small chair and table to keep your ashtray on can be the bare minimum required.
If you don’t have enough space for furniture, even some floor cushions to sit on would be good enough.
You can add some décor to make the space seem more welcoming, however. Consider adding some fairy lights or maybe a few posters and photos on the walls.
A small portable fan would also come in handy to help blow away any extra smoke and to keep you cool.
A Reading Nook
If you’re an avid reader, you’ll know just how easy it can be to get lost in a book for hours on end. However, this comes with a downside.
You can often end up spending the whole day holed away in your bed or get a backache from sitting and reading on the couch for too long.
In such a case, it can be good to have a designated reading nook that you can sit and read in, and then when you’re tired, you can switch back to your bed or the couch.
If you want to transform your fire escape balcony into a cozy reading nook, you don’t even necessarily need furniture.
If your fire escape has stairs rather than a ladder, they can be the perfect place to sit.
You can bring out some cushions and blankets to make the space more comfortable, or maybe even a bean bag.
When you’re done reading, you can easily pick everything up and take it back inside with you.
If you want to read at night, you might want to consider some different lighting options.
String lights, a small lamp, or a lantern can all work well for you.
If you’re looking for some silence to read in, you could even invest in some sound-canceling headphones or maybe an ambient sound machine.
A Morning Coffee Spot
Sitting outside on your fire escape balcony to enjoy your morning coffee and the fresh air can be a wonderful way to start the day.
You can watch the city come alive as you wake up and get ready for whatever needs to be done that day.
Setting up a coffee spot on your fire escape is actually quite easy. You can get a small folding table to keep your coffee on or even invest in a railing shelve.
Have you heard of railing shelves before? They’re a super convenient shelve for places with railings and not enough space for a table.
They’re just big enough to hold your cup of coffee or a couple of glasses of wine, but they’re super functional and perfect for a small space like a fire escape.
A Temporary Dinner Date Spot
If your fire escape balcony is big enough – and strong enough – for some outdoor seating, then it can be the perfect place for a temporary dinner date spot.
What could be more romantic than having dinner under the moonlight and with the sounds of the city playing in the background?
You can bring out some folding chairs and tables, maybe a tablecloth to make the scene look a bit more put together, and a scented candle to finish up the setup.
Once you place dinner plates and wine glasses on the table, you’re sure to have a perfectly romantic and intimate little space.
If you want to go one step further, you can even get a nice outdoor rug to place down on the metal floor. This can make the fire escape seem more homely and comfortable.
A Yoga/Meditation Spot
And finally, you should consider using your fire escape balcony as a spot for yoga or meditation.
While some people prefer to meditate or do yoga in a completely silent spot, others prefer to have a bit of background noise and find it to be grounding.
All you really need is a yoga mat and maybe a few candles or a scent diffuser.
An additional step you could take is to put up a privacy screen or maybe a fence made of bamboo or reeds.
The privacy can be great for when you want to do yoga or meditate.
Especially if your fire escape faces another building or you feel uncomfortable with anyone seeing you in your yoga clothes.
Just be sure that your privacy screen can easily be moved and doesn’t permanently block the fire escape exit route.
If you’ve been thinking about making your fire escape balcony more functional and stylish, we hope that this article was the final push you needed.
Try out some of the ideas we have mentioned, and you can have your very own personalized, cozy, and functional space right outside your apartment.
Whether you decide on setting up a reading nook or a mini garden, there are endless options for you to take into consideration.
A fire escape balcony is a wonderful part of older apartments, and it would be a shame not to take full advantage of the extra space.
So, be sure to do so and keep in mind everything we’ve mentioned above.