How to love your outdoor entertaining space even more when the weather turns colder.
Outdoor decorating often focuses on turning decks, patios and porches into summer destinations. But some people love their outdoor entertaining space even more when the weather turns colder.
“Being outside with friends and family on a slightly chilly evening is about as good as it gets,” says Florida-based interior designer Andrew Howard. “I have a lot of great memories with drinks and good friends sitting around a fire.”
New York interior designer Young Huh agrees: “I love being outdoors as the air becomes crisp and cold,” she says. “The light seems brighter and glows more golden in the evenings.”
We’ve asked Howard, Huh and Massachusetts-based designer Kristina Crestin for tips on the perfect mix of accessories, colors, scents and firelight to make an outdoor entertaining space fall-friendly.
Crestin has decorated her patio in Massachusetts in shades of turquoise and chartreuse, which look cool in summer. Then she updates the look for fall by adding throw blankets and other accessories in plum tones.
The same concept works if you’ve got a crisp blue and white color scheme outside: It looks nautical and cooling all summer long, but with the addition of throw blankets in navy and camel-colored fleece, or woolen plaids, the space feels right for fall.
To make these transitions easier, keep a set of outdoor pillows specifically for colder weather, Huh says. Or change the pillow covers out for some warmer tones as the weather changes. Consider your current color scheme, and then get creative. Huh suggests considering patterns like a brown-and-white check, a tartan plaid, or even warm, orange polka dots.
Fall plants can also change the space. Huh loves yellow, orange and red chrysanthemums in rustic baskets, and uses hay bales at different heights to create high and low displays for dried corn, pumpkins and other items.
Another powerful transformer: scented candles. Howard recommends them year-round; they can keep mosquitoes at bay in summer, and scent the air in fall, winter and spring. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pine are great scent choices.
If you’ll be buying any new outdoor furniture at end-of-summer sales, look for pieces with thick, deep cushions. They “allow for more pillows and blankets,” Crestin says, and let you nestle deep into the cushions for warmth and comfort on cold nights.
Another consideration when buying seat cushions and pillows for use in the fall: They might get sooty if they’re close to a fire pit, so choose items that are machine washable or easily replaceable, Crestin says.
She also suggests looking for flexible seating options that are durable but also easy to move if guests want to get closer to a fire or cluster together in cooler weather. She uses ceramic stools that are “heavy enough that they’re not going to blow away” but are easy to lift.
A fire pit is often the most crucial piece of an appealing outdoor space in colder weather. Even in Florida, “I put in fire pits all the time,” says Howard.
Beyond warmth, a fire offers beauty and a focal point.
“An outdoor fire is like nature’s TV,” says Huh. “Wood fires are mesmerizing to watch, smell good, and give us a wonderful sense of coziness and well-being.”
A wide range of styles and sizes of fire pits are available. “I love a simple copper kettle fire pit. They look warm and lovely even in the daytime without a fire,” says Huh. “Having a built-in stone fire pit can fit in both modern and traditional styles.”
Fire pits don’t have to be large, says Howard. And the location can vary depending on your space and preference.
And if you’d prefer not to light a fire, “outdoor heaters are a wonderful invention,” Huh says. “Clustering a few around a seating area can really emit a warm and cozy feeling even on the chilliest fall evenings.”