Win­ter-proof your out­door en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas and keep the party go­ing all year round.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Make a win­ter won­der­land in your gar­den with these clever ideas.

WARM UP First of all, turn up the heat. There’s only a few de­grees be­tween “crisp and in­vig­o­rat­ing” and “cold and mis­er­able” – and your guests won’t linger if they can’t feel their feet.

Gas is the go-to op­tion for heat­ing ve­ran­dahs, pa­tios and out­door din­ing ar­eas. High-mounted strip heaters cre­ate an even heat zone over a long ta­ble and are par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in a cov­ered area, or fixed be­neath eaves. Tall cafe heaters work bet­ter in an open court­yard space, as their hoods help spread the heat. Elec­tric heaters will also do the job, but for am­bi­ence you can’t beat the flicker of flames.

Fire pits are per­fect for an open or semi-en­closed area. If you have small chil­dren, you might want to avoid a low-set open bowl and go for some­thing built-in and guarded.

Size is sim­ple: the big­ger the area, the big­ger the pit. Chimineas are a great al­ter­na­tive for small or awk­ward spa­ces – they sit in the cor­ner and ra­di­ate heat like a pot-belly stove.


Fab­rics and soft fur­nish­ings bring colour, warmth and com­fort to the scene. Cush­ions, blan­kets and throws help push back the chill and re­tain heat from the fire. Tex­ture plays a big role: look for rich, tac­tile fab­rics, such as vel­vets, chunky yarns and soft, fluffy faux fur, to cre­ate a luxe look that is ac­ces­si­ble right now and af­ford­able.

Wa­ter­proof ma­te­ri­als are the sen­si­ble out­door op­tion, but they can’t pro­vide the warmth of fab­ric and wool. Pro­tect non-wa­ter­proof items out­doors with easy and prac­ti­cal stor­age like a lid­ded plas­tic tub or zip-up wa­ter­proof bag tucked in­side a bench seat. Knit­ted pieces are best stored in­doors.


In­crease the win­ter won­der­land look by string­ing fairy lights around the perime­ter. Warm me­tals, such as brass, cop­per and bronze, add depth and lus­tre, con­jur­ing up an en­chanted gar­den in the flicker and gleam of lanterns and can­dles. Keep the at­mos­phere in­ti­mate by avoid­ing spot­lights. In­stead, use a com­bi­na­tion of up­lights, gar­den stake lights, fairy lights and hur­ri­cane lamps to cre­ate a strong but dif­fused light. Al­ways make sure there’s enough light for guests to see their food and eas­ily move around the area. Use stair, stake and ground lights to clearly mark edges and obstacles.


Bare tree branches stark against the win­ter sky have a gaunt beauty all of their own. You can soften their edges with win­ter flow­er­ing plants. Helle­bores, snow­drops and laven­der add an el­e­gant flour­ish and have fra­grant sea­sonal blooms. Win­ter is also citrus sea­son – dwarf and or­na­men­tal va­ri­eties grown in large pots add struc­ture and def­i­ni­tion to the space. You can also use trees, pot plants, screens, shut­ters and blinds to ini­ti­ate a very sim­ple form of cli­mate con­trol by block­ing cold draughts and trap­ping pock­ets of warmth around your fire pit or heater. Bam­boo blinds and shut­ters work best to en­close pa­tios and ve­ran­dahs, while screens and ver­ti­cal plant walls are your friend in the gar­den proper.

Nat­u­ral warmth Wood-burn­ing fire pits can give the am­bi­ence of a real camp­fire set­ting. Warm up sum­mer rat­tan fur­ni­ture with soft cush­ions and throws. A ta­ble-style fire pit pro­vides a handy ledge for your drinks. Even if you don’t usu­ally have a sit­ting area, why not cre­ate a cosy cor­ner just for win­ter? Give your guests a chunky knit blan­ket to wrap up in.

Win­ter shop­ping See page 94 for the best buys in out­door heaters and fire pits. LED string lights in Grey, $8 for 10, from Bun­nings. Faux fur cush­ion cover, $24.99, from H&M. Archie Geo throw, $39, from Ez­ibuy. Primus lantern, from $11.99, from Ana­conda.

North­cote Pot­tery Glow Vivo fire pit in Rust, $59, from Bun­nings. Om­bre Home floor rug, 133cm x 180cm, $29.99, from Spot­light.

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