Gone are the long days of summer and being able to relax outside into the night. With the cold months beginning, we would all love to continue using our outdoor living spaces, comfortably, for leisurely evenings, early morning coffee and weekend gatherings. This is possible by making a few small — or large — tweaks to the space.
Outdoor living spaces range from backyards, pavilions and patios to gazebos, decks, pergolas and screened-in porches. Just because the warm months seem to be a distant memory doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy good times outside through the fall and winter.
Here are some ideas on how to prolong the use of these beloved parts of your home.
Turn up the Heat
Enjoying your backyard or outdoor living space in the winter can sometimes be as simple as turning up the heat. If you add heated areas to patios, decks or screened-in porches you can extend their use. Heat sources should be located near seating areas to ensure you and guests are comfortable in the space. Heat source options include outdoor space heaters, an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit for the backyard. You could even go as far as installing heated floors on a patio or heated seats for guests to enjoy.
Indoor Comforts – Outdoors
When entertaining in your outdoor space during the cold months, you want to be sure that you and your guests are as comfortable as possible. Put out some blankets and throw pillows to make your seating area is warm and inviting. Your guests will feel more inclined to continue enjoying their time at your home if they can be warm and cozy. Adding curtains to screened-in porches can also be another indoor comfort that helps warm up the space. Dark colored curtains can help pull in the sunlight and warm the space, as well as act as a safeguard against cold air. An accent rug can also do wonders for making the space that much warmer.
Lighting is Key
Adding the right lighting can help to set the mood for a winter wonderland vibe during an outdoor gathering. One popular way to do this is by stringing sets of lights along different areas of your patio, gazebo or deck. You can also use accent lights to draw attention to the outdoor space’s ambiance. Accent lights can be lamps or lanterns, which also double as a source of heat. Other outdoor lighting options could include pendant lighting, track lighting, wall fixtures and of course, candles.
Another option to help you enjoy your outdoor living space in the winter is to install a hot tub. What better way to seemingly prolong summer and to stay warm at the same time? When it begins to get cold, hot tubs can be especially enjoyable for a relaxing, warm evening in your backyard or an after-dinner soak with friends on your back deck or patio. Your hot tub should have a good cover to keep out any inclement weather. It may also be a good idea to invest in a towel warmer to keep beside the hot tub with warm towels for guests as they exit the warm water into the cold air.
If you are going to continue to use furniture and outdoor seating during more inclement months, you must ensure that you have the right type of furniture … and take the right precautions to protect it. Furniture materials that are the most resilient include certain types of wood, including pine and teak, synthetic wicker and metal. Protecting your furniture with covers, protectants and by taking pillows and cushions inside can help prolong the life of your furniture and decor. Also remember that anything water resistant is a good option for your winter weather outdoor furniture.
If you really want to invest even more in your outdoor space (so that you can really get the best use out of it in the cooler months), it may be useful to make a few renovations. One idea is to completely enclose your patio or screened-in porch. You can install a glass wall around the perimeter of the space to provide a view of the outdoors without the chilly temperature.
Another idea could be to build a roof or cover over your outdoor space. A patio cover would shield this space from snow or rain and give you the ability to enjoy being outdoors without getting wet. This renovation could also be useful in the warmer months to block any incoming sunlight and help keep you cool, if you add a ceiling fan.
Lastly, as the kitchen is the main gathering place in most homes, consider adding an outdoor kitchen on your patio or deck. The kitchen could be close to the other heated areas of your outdoor space to ensure that the cook is warm. You could include things like a grill, an outdoor refrigerator and a bar to make warm libations for your guests. The outdoor kitchen ensures that all of your guests enjoy the full spectrum of your outdoor space and the warmth you have successfully created.