outdoor spaces

How to Make a Yard Out of Nothing

Illustration: Luis Mazón

Most city-dwellers are not in possession of palatial backyards, let alone any proper outdoor space to call their own. As temperatures rise and it becomes more difficult to find a socially distanced spot in the park, many are looking for ways to put their rusty fire escapes and unfinished roofs to use. Here, ideas on how to transform even the bleakest of spaces. [Editor’s note: Before getting started on your own setup, be sure to consult your local fire, safety, and building regulations.]

If You Have a Stoop:

Create a Backrest out of Plywood

“My family wanted to be able to sit on our stoop without the iron rail digging into our backs. So we cut some plywood with a saw into 24-by-9-inch boards to use as backrests. We call it the Stoop Sit.” —Chris Mitchell, former chief business officer and publisher at Vanity Fair

Turn the Handrail Into a Trellis

“Plant trumpet vine or climbing hydrangea in a large planter (at least a foot high), then tie a piece of the vine to the handrail with twine to get it to grow around the rail.” —Krissie Nagy, owner of BK Bumpkin

Put Out a Picnic Table — and Suggest Your Neighbors Do the Same

Illustration: Luis Mazón

“Years ago, we got a pine picnic table and have used it for meals on our front stoop since. Recently, four of the houses next to us did as well; now, we often eat at the same time.” —Dan Pelosi, creative director

If You Have a Fire Escape:

Design a Deep-Fryer Station

Illustration: Luis Mazón

“A friend put a deep fryer out on the fire escape with an extension cord so she could make fried chicken without it stinking up the house. A tiny hibachi is great too — you can barbecue right outside your window.” —Young Huh, interior designer