Mak­ing out­door spa­ces work dur­ing fall

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Rayworth

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. Of­ten I don’t re­mem­ber the weather, but more that we en­joyed each other’s com­pany.”

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 Mas­sachusetts­based de­signer Kristina Crestin for tips on the per­fect mix of ac­ces­sories, colors, scents and fire­light to make an out­door en­ter­tain­ing space fall-friendly.

Small Ad­di­tions

Crestin has dec­o­rated her pa­tio in Mas­sachusetts in shades of turquoise and char­treuse, which look cool in sum­mer. Then she eas­ily 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 camel­col­ored 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 in shades of brown, or­ange and cream, 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 dahlias and chrysan­the­mums, 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 choices.

Ta­ble ac­ces­sories can also sig­nal the tran­si­tion of sea­sons: “Fall is the ul­ti­mate ‘eat out­side’ sea­son,” says Howard. Opt for ta­ble linens and dish­ware in fall colors that com­ple­ment your out­door ta­ble and chairs. Huh says touches like bowls of ap­ples with wal­nuts and pecans can fin­ish the look.


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 re­lo­cate if guests want to move 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. “I would rather have a fire and a great con­ver­sa­tion than worry about pil­lows and chang­ing them by sea­son,” says Howard. Even in Florida, “I put in fire pits all the time.”

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 well­be­ing.”

A wide range of styles and sizes of fire pits are avail­able. “I love a sim­ple cop­per ket­tle fire pit,” says Huh. “They look warm and lovely even in the day­time with­out a fire. Of course, if you can man­age it, hav­ing a builtin 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.

“Ours is sunk into the pa­tio” along the edge of the grass, says Crestin. Guests sit in chairs or stand nearby, or they can spread out a blan­ket on the grass nearby.

Crestin rec­om­mends us­ing color bricks that you can throw in the fire to add color to the flames. “They’re al­most like a gra­ham-cracker size,” she says. “It isn’t to­tally sea­sonal, but I find that we’re us­ing those more in the fall.”

And if you’d pre­fer not to light a fire or you’re seek­ing even more warmth, “out­door heaters are a won­der­ful new in­ven­tion,” Huh says. “Clus­ter­ing a few around a seat­ing area can re­ally emit a warm and cozy feel­ing even on the chill­i­est fall evenings.”


This un­dated photo pro­vided by Kristina Crestin shows an out­door space in Es­sex, Mass., de­signed by Crestin. This sum­mer en­ter­tain­ing space can eas­ily be used dur­ing colder fall weather with the help of a large fire pit. Crestin strate­gi­cally lo­cated the fire pit so that some guests could en­joy it while re­lax­ing in chairs while others can clus­ter around it while stand­ing on the lawn.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by Kristina Crestin shows an out­door space in Es­sex, Mass., de­signed by Crestin. One key to en­joy­ing your out­door liv­ing space in chilly fall weather: So­fas and chairs with deep, padded seats. In this back­yard pa­tio deep up­hol­stered seat­ing and thick pil­lows cre­ate a space where guests can nes­tle com­fort­ably while en­joy­ing a fall evening.

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