Over on the HGTV blog, Design Happens, we were just talking about the importance of having an outdoor space in, or shall we say, outside of, your home. The consensus from all of us is that having an outdoor area to unwind in, from the tiniest fire escape to the most lavish landscaped backyard, is a crucial part of a happy life. 
Our last apartment, in which we lived for almost 9 years, started out with an outdoor space. When we first rented out apartment on N. 7th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in January 2005, it had a big backyard that we loved to garden and grilled. We let our dogs romp around and had friends over for dinners outdoors during the first few years there. Until they paved over it. I can’t even get into the disappointment involved in all of that, nor can I discuss when they took it away from us altogether. I can only move forward to the much more pleasant present, and discuss how in our *new* place, that we moved into almost a year ago, we have a lovely balcony overlooking a patio and garden. My landlord has cultivated a gorgeous green “English garden” over the last several years, and with him being away quite a bit, Will and I absolutely love being tasked with taking care of it.
The balcony off the kitchen is a dream. Nearly every day I begin with coffee and a book out there. It’s the most peaceful way to start a day, and it makes it easy to resist the urge to check my phone or email until I’ve read a couple of chapters and had a nice cup of coffee. Is it too much to say that this little outdoor room of zen has changed my life? Because it most definitely has. To have a beautiful space like this that is filled with trees, flowers, plants, squirrels, birds, and other wildlife, it’s a little slice of nature in our New York City backyard that brings tranquility through the sliding door with every backyard breeze. The space is exclusively dedicated to quiet, peaceful moments, and having it within eyesight makes it easy to create more and more of those. Where do you find your moments of peace and zen in or around your home? I will do all I can to ensure that our next home has an outdoor space as well, because now I just can’t imagine going without. Until then, I’m going to savor every second, sip, and page outside on the balcony.