A cold snap is no reason to abandon the fresh-air comforts of your outdoor living room. To the contrary, winter gives you one more excuse to embrace the joys of backyard living, so as long as you’re prepared for frosty temperatures and inconvenient precipitation.
With the right equipment, you can turn your terrace or courtyard into a cozy wonderland no matter what season is upon you. Whether you line your seating area with patio heaters or place a flaming glass fire pit in the center of your living space, there’s an outdoor living tip out there to suit your entertaining style.
So, how do you reignite your life (and your patio) for the frigid days of winter? Here are three ways to create a killer ambiance while keeping guests warm and toasty.
#1: Thaw Out with Patio Heaters
When winter rolls around, staying warm is priority number one, which is why patio heaters should top your list of essential gear. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant or coffee shop during a chilly spell, you know what a difference a good outdoor heater can make. To make your backyard living room as warm and toasty as the neighborhood hangout, you’ll need to invest in a little heating equipment.
The Options – First things first, not all patio heaters are created equal. There are at least three different types, including:
- Freestanding or commercial heaters
- Tabletop heaters
- Wall-mounted heaters
You’re probably most familiar with freestanding heaters, but the tabletop and wall-mounted varieties are also effective at thawing out an outdoor space. So, which model should you choose? That depends on the dimensions of your patio, as well as the size of your budget.
Freestanding Heaters – The floor-length models, which bear a slight resemblance to tall mushrooms, are the most common heaters in commercial settings. They certainly give off a lot of heat—their range can cover a nine-foot radius—but they can also take up a bit of space and set you back a pretty penny, depending on which model you choose.
Floor-Standing Heater Pros
- Large heat radius (up to 9 ft.)
- High heat output (up to 47,000 BTU)
- Stable and sturdy
Floor-Standing Heater Cons
- Price (up to $200-$1,000)
- Size (up to 89” high)
Tabletop Heaters – Tabletop heaters are more compact and tend to be priced accordingly. If you only need warmth for a single table, then smaller is definitely better.
Tabletop Patio Heater Pros
- Compact (up 34.65″ high and 13.4″ base)
- Affordable (as little as $150)
- Lightweight and portable
Tabletop Heater Cons
- Less heat output (up to 10,000 BTU)
- Requires table space
Wall-Mounted Heaters – Of course, wall-mounted units save the most space, as long as you have a wall or beam to which you can attach them. While floor-standing and tabletop heaters typically run on propane, the wall- and ceiling-mounted models rely on infrared heating technology. Since they plug into your home’s electrical supply and require no tank changes, they tend to be easier on your wallet in the long run.
Wall-Mounted Heater Pros
- Energy efficient (approx. 1/10 the energy cost)
- Large heat radius (up to 9 ft.)
- High heat output (1,500-watt lamp)
- Affordable (approx. $200)
Wall-Mounted Heater Cons
- Require attachment
- Slightly more expensive to buy than tabletop heaters
#2: Drive Away the Chill with Fire Pits or Fire Bowls
Fire pits are the ultimate outdoor living accessory, as their growing popularity attests. As a centerpiece for your outdoor living room, it livens up both the space and the conversation. If you want to keep your guests toasty while setting an intimate mood or creating a charming ambiance, then the open flame is your best friend.
The Options – Fire pits come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. There are stainless steel pits that feature modernist designs, large bowl-shaped fire pits that feature traditional designs, fire dome pits that feature unique designs, square fire pits that feature minimalist designs, etc., etc. No matter what your style, there’s sure to be a fire pit to match any outdoor living room. Homeowners looking for an open flame can also choose between traditional wood-burning fire pits or more contemporary gas pits. Which style you choose depends almost entirely on preference.
Wood-Burning Fire Pits – Wood-burning pits possess an undeniable charm—the crackle of the flame, the smell of burning wood, the authentic experience of throwing another log on the fire. Of course, some residential areas prohibit burning wood near homes or buildings. If you’re thinking of purchasing a wood-burning pit, check with your local zoning laws to make sure it’s permitted.
Wood-Burning Fire Pit Pros
- “Authentic” look and feel
- Larger flame
- Affordable installation
Wood-Burning Fire Pit Cons
- More time-consuming
- More cleanup required
- More smoke
Gas Fire Pits – Gas pits have a more modern charm. The typical gas pit can burn either gas logs, which are typically made of ceramic, or fire pit glass, which comes in many colors and varieties. The latter possesses an unmistakable beauty: flames dancing above a bed of beautifully cut and colored glass. It’s no wonder many of the world’s top hotels and restaurants choose fire pit glass. Nowadays, fire glass is available to the average homeowner, and its increasing popularity is a testament to its alluring charm.
Gas Fire Pit Pros
- Quick and easy to turn off and on
- No smoke or odor
- Zero to minimal cleanup
Gas Fire Pit Cons
- Expensive installation
- Smaller flames
#3: Shield Yourself from the Rain and Snow with Umbrellas
Some people prefer to close up their outdoor living rooms when autumn or winter rolls around. Other, more hearty souls like to keep the festivities going all year round. If you are one of the latter, you’ll have to prepare your patio for the odd snowfall. Even in mild climates, rain can be a nuisance, shutting down the most vibrant outdoor gathering. Nothing can ruin a mood faster than snowflakes in your hot cocoa or rainwater underneath your collar.
While some patios are covered by awnings, most are exposed to the elements, and that means you’ll need something extra if you want to keep partying through the rainy season. Patio umbrellas offer a simple solution. You can place one above every table to keep your eating area dry, or you can place them around couches and seating areas.
Options – As with every outdoor living accessory, you have plenty of options to fit any style or budget, from traditional umbrellas that provide adequate coverage for a table or couch to cantilever umbrellas that provide wider coverage and 360-degree rotation. If you prefer something a bit more interesting, there are also lighted umbrellas.
Traditional Patio Umbrellas – Conventional 9” umbrellas are perfect for most situations. They provide enough coverage for the typical table or seating area at a decent price.
Traditional Patio Umbrella Pros
- Easy cleaning
Traditional Patio Umbrella Cons
- Smaller coverage area
- Limited tilt and rotation
Cantilever Umbrellas – Large, cantilever umbrellas are primarily meant for shade, but they can provide plenty of protection in the event of a sudden drizzle. If you want maximum coverage for all seasons (and if you don’t mind the price tag) then these sturdy umbrellas should be your cup of tea.
Cantilever Umbrella Pros
- Large coverage area (up to 13” diameter)
- 360-degree rotation
- Sturdy and durable
Cantilever Umbrella Cons
- Requires more space
#ReIgniteYourLife with Starfire Direct
They say the devil is in the details, and, if you want to impress your guests, you’ll need to provide them with some basic creature comforts. Protection against the elements should be at the top of your priority list, particularly if you want to enjoy the delights of your outdoor living room all year long. Visit Starfire Direct for more ideas that will help you kindle the flame of backyard living.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The talented and knowledgeable staff of Starfire Direct pride themselves on being experts in the field of fire features, outdoor living, and beyond. Always at the forefront of upcoming trends and industry breakthroughs, the team at SD is ready and willing to help you make your dream space a reality, once piece at a time. Our business is helping you to Reignite Your Life.