Since the winters are so terrible in Chicago, being outside in the nice weather is a huge deal. Once the weather hits 70, nearly every restaurant opens an outdoor seating area where Chicagoans are content drinking and dining even next to the busiest of streets.
We are lucky enough to have a nice-sized balcony which becomes our all-purpose lounging and dining area during the warmer weather; it's like adding a whole extra room.
We bought an "outdoor sectional" from Ikea's Arhoma line. We spend a lot of time out here reading, grading, and it's even E's new place to take naps with the pooches. We kept it covered with a tarp during the winter, and we were just able to set it up again. Notice the "before" photo with the little face in the corner anxious to help out:
We also picked up an outdoor dining table from Ikea and we started having our nightly dinners, and our weekend brunches, outdoors. People spend a lot of money to eat at outdoor restaurants, so we thought it was a good investment to start eating outside too.
And to make it more like a real room, we even picked up an all-weather mat to function as a rug. Plus, it's more comfortable for the pooches. We bought an inexpensive one from World Market, but I also saw some fun options here. We bring out another mat for the pooches. Of course, if Mr. B is already lying on it, Miss M. has to get on too:
Once the weather gets warmer, we're planning on adding more flowers and growing some herbs. Right now we just have the little pointy plant in the corner that we like because it reminds us of our view from the balcony in Tulum. We have some LED lights on it, and it looks really nice at night.
Though I know the pooches would probably love to have a real yard to run around, they still enjoy hanging out on the deck and laying in the sun. The best part for them is they are so high up they can see other pooches on balconies or walking by. How does everyone else utilize the outdoors once the weather gets warmer?