winter outdoor space

Homeowners

Fall has officially arrived, which means cold weather is just around the corner. It goes without saying that this year, we’re going to experience a winter unlike any other.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we’re all relying on the outdoors for safe spaces to spend time with our friends and extended family. While frigid temperatures are bound to make that more challenging, it’s far from impossible. The key is making our yards, decks, and patios cozy—and winter-ready!

Here are five tips for creating a more enjoyable outdoor space this winter…

1) Add shelter

Let’s face it: Toronto winters can be pretty intense. If you don’t already have shelter built into your outdoor space, now is the time to add it. Unfortunately, retractable awnings aren’t really meant for ice and snow—so building a roof over your patio may be your best bet. Unless you’re very handy, you’ll want to consider hiring a professional.

Another option is a pergola. I’m a big fan of these freestanding structures, which are held up by beams. If you use an assembly kit from your local home improvement store, you can create something relatively easily—without spending a fortune.

2) Purchase hearty patio furniture

Once you have your shelter in place, it’s time to think about seating. Your existing patio furniture may or may not be suitable for winter use, so it’s best to check the manufacturer’s information before leaving it outdoors.

Plastic can become fragile and snap in the cold, but synthetic wicker, cast aluminum, and wrought iron are good all-weather options (for the latter, you can remove rust spots with a wire brush). No matter the material, you’ll want to bring your furniture into storage when it’s not in use—or at least cover it up with a waterproof tarp.

3) Invest in heaters

While you and your guests will want to layer up before heading outside, you’re going to need some additional warmth. That’s where heaters come in. Before you buy anything, be aware that some models are appropriate for covered patios and others aren’t.

Propane heaters are easy to use and capable of warming up an area quickly. Unfortunately, they’re not ideal for enclosed spaces. Luckily, electric options can be just as effective, and they work well on patios. They also come in a variety of sizes, and the smaller ones can sit on your tabletop. Just be sure you have an electrical outlet nearby.

4) Opt for outdoor lighting

The right lighting will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space even after the sun sets—which is a major bonus as the days get shorter. It can make your yard both safer and more beautiful.

To start with, pathway lighting is almost always a good idea—especially when it’s icy. Landscape lights will provide overall illumination, while stylish lanterns and sleek wall sconces can add a touch of sophistication to your patio. If whimsy is more your thing, consider string lights. No matter the atmosphere you want to create, LED bulbs are likely your best bet (since they can be far more energy-efficient).

5) Include some warm touches

Of course, plugging in a heater isn’t the only thing you can do to warm up your patio or pergola. By adding the right touches, you can create an atmosphere that rivals the comfort of your living room.

From throw pillows to candles to electric blankets, equip your outdoor space with cozy amenities. Decorative details like fresh welcome mats and tasteful winter wreaths can also add a touch of warmth—and encourage your guests to feel at home.

There’s no denying that need for social distancing will make this a challenging winter for many. Fortunately, you can improve your quality of life by creating a place to catch up with loved ones safely. All it takes is a little effort and a desire to make your outdoor space beautiful!

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