Many think of outdoor living as a summer thing – lounging in the shade of a parasol as you drink fresh iced tea – but it needn’t be. You should be able to enjoy your garden and get some fresh air all year round, and being able to sit out with a mug of hot cocoa on a snowy afternoon is just as lovely as sunbathing in the summer. That is, if you have the right area to do it in!
Here’s how to create an outdoor living area that you can use even in the depths of winter.
Pick a spot close to the house
Although a gazebo in the middle of your garden may look lovely, picking an area near to your house means you’ll have already raised the temperature a little. No matter how well-insulated your home may be, you will still lose heat so make the most of it! A nook shielded on three sides by your home could be the perfect area for your outdoor living space.
Raise the floor
A raised wooden deck can be a lot warmer underfoot than simply creating your area on a pre-existing patio. It also means that your outdoor living area will be a lot more resistant to snowdrifts!
Add a roof
By building a roof to your outdoor living space, you can shield the area from the worst of the weather. Make sure to make this sturdy, and if you’re using wood ensure it’s properly treated to avoid it warping or becoming damp – it’s also a very good idea to make the roof sloped to avoid snow piling up on it or rainwater pooling.
Close it up
If the area you’ve picked is affected by winds or drafts, enclosing it may be a good idea. Screens made from wood or wicker can shield you to some degree, though glass panelling provides the best shelter.
Although heating the area won’t mean you can sit out there in just a t-shirt, it can make a huge difference. An electric patio heater is good for smaller spaces, though they can be expensive to run and are not especially good for the environment.
Fire pits are great if you have an open space, though outdoor fireplaces tend to encompass the best of all worlds, with heat, that lovely wood-burning smell, and a chimney to whisk away the smoke so you don’t have to venture out from under your patio roof. They also create a great place to centre your furniture around, and can even be modified for winter grill-out purposes.
Brighten it up
Lighting can make one of the biggest differences to your outdoor space, as the sun is getting lower in the sky now and we seem to spend most of the day in darkness. Low-energy outdoor string lights look lovely wound around the eaves of your patio roof, and can be turned on and off easily.
Think about your furniture
Metal, plastic and wood furniture tend to stand up to the elements best, though they’re not the nicest to sit on. Keep a dedicated box of cushions and blankets inside the house to use outdoors, and simply put them out when you want to use your garden space, and then take them back inside with you. This way you don’t have to put up with damp cushions or waterproofed fabrics, which aren’t especially warm.
Arrange your furniture as you would your living room – you want to create a space where people can sit and chat easily. Think coffee tables and a mix of benches and individual chairs for a real indoors-outdoors feel.
Have you created an outdoor living area you use in winter?
Estelle Page is an interior designer who loves her garden – even when it’s snowing! She blogs for Great Furniture Trading Company when she’s not prepping her home for the upcoming winter.