Cold climate comfort
You can still enjoy your outdoor spaces, even as the temperatures begin to drop, writes Chelsea Clark
It’s no secret us Aussies love the great outdoors. In the summertime, barbecue and alfresco living areas all over the country are given a good workout on weekends and for weekday family dinners.
Sometimes it feels like we’re spending more time outside than in.
But come June we all retreat indoors as the cooler months take hold and we’re forced in front of heaters and fires to stay warm.
Our outdoor living areas go unused but it doesn’t have to be the case with options for making your alfresco place winter-friendly.
“We ask a lot of our outdoor spaces in Australia,” says landscape designer Dean Herald from Rolling Stone Landscapes.
“They need to be a living, dining room and kitchen space all in one but a truly effective outdoor space should also be able to be used year round.”
A combination of effective heating and lighting, versatile furniture and seasonal furnishings can all help make your outdoor space more serviceable outside the traditional times of the year.
It’s also important that your outdoor space is properly protected from the elements.
“When winter really rolls in, those cool Antarctic winds can be pretty off-putting,” says Alex Kuchel from Australian Outdoor Living. “But with clear cafe blinds you can create a heavenly outdoor space insulated from the chill in your own backyard.”
If your space isn’t conducive to hanging blinds, Kirsten Beer from Bunnings suggests investing in a pergola to shelter the outdoor space from wind and rain and create an entertainment area for family and friends that can be used all year-round.
HEAT IT UP
An outdoor heater is a must if you want to make use of your alfresco area during winter.
“A patio heater will provide radiant heat to keep a large space warm or alternatively a chimenea or fire pit will also add extra ambience,” says Kristen.
“Another option is to use overhead electric heaters which can be mounted to the ceiling and angled to suit the area.”
Gas is the most cost-effective way of heating an outdoor space and Eric Hahn from Elgas suggests radiant heaters will provide the best type of heat.
“Convection heaters will warm the air in a space which is virtually useless in an outdoor room just because there are no walls or doors to keep the heat in,” explains Eric.
“Radiant heaters are based on the line of sight — if you’re standing in front of heater, you’ll get warm.
“If you have a large space — or you’re planning a large gathering — it’s best to position them around the perimeter.”
Another plus is that gas heaters don’t require a power lead, allowing them to be placed anywhere in the garden and moved around as desired.
“Remember not to move gas heaters while they are on or still warm, so make sure to
place them in your desired position prior to starting,” says Kristen.
If you’re after something more rustic, fire pits are gaining popularity, with both fixed and portable models available.
“Adding a fire pit will provide an immediate feature for the garden and become a natural gathering spot for socialising and entertaining and provides warmth as well as a great cooking source,” says landscaper and spokesman for Adbri Masonry Jason Hodges.
“Building your own fire pit can be a simple weekend DIY job.
“For those who love the outdoors, entertaining or star gazing on a cool night, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.”
Hard timber furniture just isn’t going to cut it on chilly winter nights when you want to rug up in front of the fire, so don’t be afraid to add plenty of soft furnishings to your outdoor room for those cooler nights.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make when furnishing an outdoor area is to add too much clutter,” says Dean.
“Allow plenty of space around the lounge and table for people to walk around and — if you have a fire — allow plenty of space between that and the furniture.”
From there, Dean says you can begin “winterfying” the space by layering cushions, throw rugs and blankets so everyone has a cosy place to sit.
“Multi-use furniture always works well in an outdoor space, especially in smaller areas,” says Dean.
“A bench seat that might double as a coffee table is a good idea, just add a comfortable cushion when you need to use it as a seat.”
Don’t forget to bring your cushions and blankets indoors though at the end of the evening or find a suitable storage place where they’ll be protected from the elements.
Kristen suggests mood lighting to really make your alfresco area feel warm and cosy.
“Line a pathway with solar lights, hang fairy lights from trees or use heat emitting lights to keep the area extra cosy,” she says.
The rise and rise of the outdoor kitchen makes perfect sense when you consider our climate. And with some careful planning, they can also be used year round.
“Outdoor kitchens have come a long way from just a barbecue in the backyard,” says Dean. “Inclusions seem to now only be limited by your imagination.”
To get the most from your outdoor kitchen during the cooler months of the year, it’s best to protect it from the elements with a roof either extended from the main house or built separately for kitchens located further away in the backyard.
Pizza ovens are a great option to consider — especially if you plan to cook a variety of food in your outdoor kitchen.
“A pizza oven doesn’t only do pizza,” says Dean. “You can also use it to bake or roast — it’s basically a way of having an oven outside.” And a secondary bonus? A pizza oven can also be an effective heater in a smaller outdoor area functioning as a mini fireplace.
The effectiveness of this
pitfire by Real Flame is increased thanks to solid
brick and stone walls.
A firepit becomes the social focus on cold nights in this Trex Transcend deck.
This outdoor room by Rolling Stone Landscapes covers all the bases with built-in fireplace and comfy seating.