With all the time and money invested in your outdoor living space, it’s a shame to lose it to cold weather. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your outdoor entertaining area more inviting during the fall and winter. With ideas like fire pits, outdoor heating systems and warm decor ideas, you can continue using your outdoor living space in all but the worst of the cold weather!
Snuggle Up by the Fire
There are several ways you can add the warmth and beauty of fire to your entertaining space:
- Install an outdoor fireplace
- Gather around a fire pit
- Warm the area with a chiminea
If you have a covered patio, no other heating system will add the romance of an outdoor fireplace. Stone, stucco and brick designs are all very popular, although you can find metal fireplaces as well. Most people choose wood as the fuel source for the cozy snapping and crackling as it burns, but natural gas and propane are both great choices, too.
If you don’t have the space for an outdoor fireplace, or you’d prefer something that you can move around as you decorate for the seasons, fire pits are an ideal choice. Like a jazzed-up version of the traditional campfire, fire pits let you gather your friends around the warmth, roast a few hot dogs and make the best of a chilly evening.
Chimineas are the new kid on the block. Hailing from Mexico, chimineas were once used to bake bread, but now they’re a popular appliance for outdoor entertaining. Because of their enclosed design, large chimineas are a great source of radiant heat; they will usually do a better job of heating your outdoor space than either a fire pit or fireplace. You can find chimineas in an infinite variety of styles, from Mexican-inspired terra cotta to sleek modern metal creations, many of which are equipped with grills for outdoor cooking and baking.
Outdoor Heating Systems
Fireplaces and fire pits are a great way to take the chill out of an evening and add ambience. However, if you really want to warm up your outdoor entertaining area, consider investing in an outdoor heating system. Among outdoor heaters, there are two choices: patio heaters and infrared heaters.
Patio heaters are normally designed to look like a lamp, and they are usually powered by portable propane tanks—although you can find natural gas and electric versions. These heaters tend to be extremely efficient, and they are far more effective than your average fire pit or fireplace. Small tabletop versions come with BTU ratings of around 12,000, which is just enough to heat the area around the table. Larger floor models are rated for 40,000 BTUs or more, meaning that one or two patio heaters will be enough to keep a larger entertaining area warm.
Infrared heaters are usually electric, and they come in both portable and ceiling-mounted designs. Whether you choose a portable model or the installed version, most infrared heaters are rated for 3,000 BTUs. While that doesn’t sound like much compared to patio heaters, infrared heaters aren’t designed to be stand-alone appliances. Instead, you’ll want to use several infrared heaters throughout your entertaining area to provide more even heating than fires or patio heaters.
Tips for Creating a Warm Look and Feel
Sometimes adding warmth is all about setting the mood and attending to the details. For example, the color of your lighting can have a huge effect on the overall feeling of your outdoor living space. White light tends to feel bright and cold, while yellow lights, since they tend to look more natural, have a soothing, warming effect. Wherever possible, use bulbs with natural color temperatures, or use torches, candles and firepots to provide soft, warm lighting. Here are a few more ideas to help warm up your patio:
- Seat everyone in upholstered furniture rather than cold plastic, wood or metal.
- Pass out comfy throws so your guests can snuggle up.
- Hang patio shades or work a windbreak hedge into your landscape to cut the breeze.
- Use rugs over cold stone, tile and concrete to keep your guests’ feet warmer.
- If you’re serving cold beverages, hand out insulated cup holders to keep everyone’s hands warm.
You don’t need to give up on outdoor entertaining just because the days are growing cooler. Bring warmth to your patio with a fireplace or heating system, and use lighting, upholstery and other furnishings to add to the overall warm feeling. With a few small investments and upgrades to your design, it’s possible to enjoy your beautiful outdoor living space all year round!