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We often think of winter as the down season: hibernation time best spent cooped up in our family rooms by the fire for months. For colder states in particular, is there really a need for outdoor living during this time? Simply put, yes! More often than not, winter is a vibrant time of the year that would be a shame to miss out on. The formal living room doesn’t quite fit into today’s lifestyle, the informal living room is in our backyards! There is a great big beautiful world outside to be enjoyed! Homebuyers still value outdoor living if it is done correctly. Here are some outdoor living tips and tricks to make the season more enjoyable.
Winters tend to be dark and cold with the sun setting before you get off work – especially if you live up north. Thoughtful lighting is the first step to an inviting outdoor living space. Let’s go beyond bolted-on floodlights and incorporate landscape lighting and up-lighting. Find a feature tree in the yard to highlight, picking one that will look nice with and without leaves. Perhaps some low lights around the perimeter of a patio or walkway.
Next, let’s create a gathering space. I like this space out, away from the house to capture the sun during the day and gaze up at the stars at night. Warm the space with a fire pit; whether for evening cocktail parties or warming up with the kids after a snowball fight. Fire pits have become a popular outdoor feature that can either be site-built or purchased. Fire pits are a nice way to bring families and friends together outside as folks can sit across from each other and stay warm. I’ve also seen fire bowls that come with tops that transform into a table when the fire is not in use.
The fire pit or bowl can either be wood burning or gas fueled. I like the latter for so many reasons. It’s cleaner for the air and there’s no mess to clean up. Gas fireplaces have instant-on and more importantly, instant-off when you’re ready to call it quits, so there’s no unattended fire to worry about. A small propane tank can fuel the fire.
As you plan your space around the fire pit, ensure that there’s plenty of room for chairs and perhaps a side table for drinks, hors d’oeuvres or marshmallows to roast. Eight to ten feet around the fire pit would a comfortable distance for ease of walking behind the chairs. If you live in a snowy climate, perhaps stacking chairs with removable cushions that can be stored nearby.
If a fire pit isn’t to your liking, consider portable restaurant-style outside heaters. There are a variety of shapes and sizes in various pricing ranges. A quick online search will amaze you at how many choices are available. These too can be fueled with propane. Be thinking about where you can store these in the warmer months when making your selection as some can be quite large.
So don’t be a grizzly bear, get out and enjoy the great outdoors – even in the winter! With a little advanced planning, you can make it happen.