Posted on May 19th, 2017 by Artisan Stone
If you have an inviting outdoor area, you probably make the most of it in the summer months. But if you’d like to enjoy your outdoor spaces in winter, you’ll need a few extra comforts to make it warm and inviting for your guests. Here are 5 simple ways to improve your outdoor entertaining experience when the temperature cools and the sun umbrella gets packed away.
Originally an American trend, outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are now popular here in Australia. Unlike a barbeque, they provide a comforting warmth and mesmerising focus that only an open fire can deliver.
You can build your own fire pit relatively cheaply by digging a hole and lining it with stone pebbles or repurposing an old cut-down drum or metal container. If that’s not your speed, you can also purchase a kit from a hardware store. Alternatively, have a custom fire pit designed and built for you.
Whichever option you choose however, make sure you check your local council’s regulations regarding open fires, as each can have different requirements and some won’t allow you to have a fire in your backyard at all.
Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, from copper, stainless steel and cast iron bowls to fire tables, chimney style options and gas fuelled units. Regardless of which style you opt for, be sure it is made from appropriate materials that can withstand heat and will properly contain the fire.
Some handy tips to keep in mind when installing a fire pit include;
The Australian climate, particularly near the coast, can be harsh on outdoor furniture, so purchasing good quality pieces that can withstand the elements will stand you in good stead for outdoor entertaining in winter.
Wood is often the favoured material for outdoor furniture as it’s easy style, not to mention wood has natural good looks. Unfortunately, it is also the material that requires the most upkeep and maintenance, so check with your supplier when purchasing timber furniture and be prepared to do any oiling, re-sanding, waterproofing and staining needed to keep it looking good all year round.
Other options include stainless steel, which should be marine grade especially near the coast, anodised aluminium, which has a high resistance to salt and humidity and plastic, which can withstand UV exposure providing you choose the right grade.
Because outdoor furniture is designed to be rugged and durable, it can tend to be a little less supportive than indoor furniture, so matching it with the right cushions and pillows will ensure your winter entertaining is as comfortable as possible. Outdoor lumbar support pillows are a good idea when your guests are sitting on unforgiving timber for any length of time and memory foam pillows are everyone’s favourite, although they may have to be brought indoors when not in use to avoid attracting mould and mildew.
A high quality outdoor cushion or pillow is made using special fabrics designed to stand up to heat, rain and cold and if you find ones with the right properties but find your design choices limited, remember you can always cover them with the fabrics you want to match your décor and taste and simply remove and wash the covers periodically to keep them fresh and clean.
Warmth underfoot is also important and an area rug can add an extra element of comfort and style to your outdoor entertainment area. Because it will be exposed to the elements though, you’ll need to look for rugs that offer a combination of durability and aesthetic appeal.
An outdoor rug will endure a fair amount of foot traffic, so it’s best to look for one that will maintain its shape and appearance. Flat weave rugs are a good choice, as they tend to shed less, minimising wear and their tight weave provides stability underfoot. They are also easy to spot clean with mild detergent and water and can even be treated with fabric protector to prevent stains being absorbed into the fibres.
If your rug is to be left outside all year round, it should ideally be weather-resistant. It should be moisture proof with a backing that prevents rainwater from pooling and UV and mildew and mould resistant if you live in a warmer climate.
Gripping power is also important and woven outdoor rugs made from jute or sisal are particularly good, as they are highly durable and cling to debris on shoes and feet, preventing dirt from being tracked into the house.
So now that your outdoor entertaining area is decked out with all the comforts of home, it only remains to serve up a few winter recipes to keep your guests warm on the inside as well. While considering ingredients to fill your belly, remember to use sustainable products in your meals. Feather and Bone, a Marrickville-based butcher, has a lot of great information on how to eat better quality meat while not wasting any animal product. With that in mind, here are six of the most popular dishes when dining outdoors during winter;