7 Ideas to Help You Squeeze a Few More Weeks Out of Your Outdoor Space

published Oct 27, 2021
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View of fall porch with seating, blankets, and potted plants
Credit: stock_studio/Shutterstock

We may be well into the cool days of fall, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your outdoor space just yet. After all, if you spent all summer beautifying your patio, porch, or balcony, don’t you want to get as much use out of it as possible?

While there’s not a lot you can do about some parts of fall and incoming winter — ahem, snow — there are plenty of ways to make your outdoor space usable for at least a few more weeks. Here, seven ideas that will help you get your daily dose of fresh air.

Get toasty with a fire pit.

Sabrina and Andrew Pougnet turned their backyard into a cozy boho oasis that’s ready for temperatures to drop (necessary, since they live in Ontario!). “We spend so much time in our backyard that adding a fire pit where we could cozy up at the end of the day made perfect sense! The entire project took roughly four days for the two of us.” Want to see how they did it? There’s a detailed breakdown on their TikTok account.

You can attempt the DIY route for your fire pit — or you can buy a basic one for under $100 at the hardware store. Either way, that crackling campfire smell will transport you right back to nostalgic fall nights (and a shower before you get into bed). 

Want to invest in the most of-the-moment style? Look for portable and low-smoke options like Solo Stove or the TIKI fire pit.

Build a permanent outdoor fireplace.

This is a project for the ambitious DIYers out there — or those who are willing to hire a contractor. An outdoor fireplace is the varsity version of the fire pit, perfect for those who are ready to make a permanent commitment to their outdoor heating system. Gather comfy chairs around it for a true outdoor living area. 

Create a stylish and convenient way to store firewood and fireplace accoutrements directly next to the fireplace to make the space even more functional. 

Credit: Minette Hand

Bring in a glow with string lights.

Sometimes warming up a space has nothing to do with actually physically warming it up, but instead just bringing in a glow of light. “Spending time outdoors in colder months is good for the soul,” Elaine of Modern Farmhouse Design says. “To cozy up your outdoor space, add market lights or a lamp in a covered space.” 

This works in an outdoor area of any size, from a large patio to a fire escape. Simply string an inexpensive strand of lights from one end of your space to the other, and bask in the twinkly glow.

Another glowy option: Hang an overhead lantern for an extra air of sophistication. 

Block the breeze with curtains.

Who needs heat when you can put a physical barrier between you and the cold? Hang heavy duty drapery or curtains to block the biting chill of wind or a blustery breeze. Opt for the blackout variety for the most protection from the cold. 

An added bonus: When you have friends over, the body heat is trapped within the space, which means you can keep the outdoor entertaining going well into the winter. 

Credit: Lindsey Kay Averill

Warm up with a chiminea.

If you’re not quite ready to invest in a custom, built-in outdoor fireplace, turn to the hundreds-of-years-old style called a chiminea. A portable fireplace that originated in Mexico, these hearth style fireplaces were originally used for both warmth and cooking.

Now, they make for a more intentionally styled alternative to an open fire pit. Place yours on a patio and leave it there year-round. It’s a statement piece when not earning its keep as a device to provide warmth.

Credit: ronstik/Shutterstock

Track down a once-elusive outdoor space heater.

Last year, outdoor heaters were the hot commodity. You could not find one anywhere. They were surging on the secondhand retail market. Thankfully, things have leveled out a bit (even if the supply chain hasn’t), and you can now snag a space heater for your own yard. 

You can find table-size versions if you’re outfitting a small space or go for the big guy if you plan on hosting several person dinners. You may need to get a propane tank — and refill said propane tank — so keep that in mind if you go this route.

Don’t forget to bring out some “indoor” furnishings.

Taryn Whiteaker of PNW-based Taryn Whiteaker Designs brings in lots of layers to transition her outdoor space from summer to fall. She says, “When it comes to outdoor fall decor, I focus on three things: mums, pumpkins, and blankets.”

Big, washable blankets will help keep everyone warm, especially paired with hand warmers. And underneath, seat cushions will also help icy cold metal chairs feel a little more welcoming.

Finally, think about bringing out some entertainment, like speakers or an outdoor TV.  If there’s any way to squeeze a few more weeks out of your outdoor space, it’s by giving friends a reason to come over for chili, hot cider, and an outdoor viewing of the weekend’s big game. Hand them a blanket, light up the fire pit, plug in the twinkly lights, and you’ve got a perfect fall weekend evening on the books.