9 Hot Items for Outdoor Living

In regions where mild weather beckons nearly all year, outdoor living spaces are a natural complement to your lifestyle. Take advantage of the great outdoors and convert your patio, deck or porch into an outdoor living room.

Outdoor Fire Pits & Fireplaces

Outdoor fire pits make an attractive addition to any backyard, and many come with a grill to convert your fire pit into a barbeque pit. You can cook those steaks first, and then sit around the fire afterwards! Fire pits are available in a variety of styles, ranging from wood fire pits to ones that are fueled by propane. Wood fire pits that have the “wok-shaped” bowl in the center can be converted into large beverage coolers or planters in the warmer months.

One of the most popular styles of an outdoor “fireplace” is the clay chimenea.  Be sure to keep the bottom of the clay models insulated with sand or volcano rock to keep the clay from cracking. Chimeneas are designed for a small, ambient flame—low heat, but great look! If you want more of a campfire style fire, consider a grated cylinder style. They’re great for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows!

If you really want to make a statement in your outdoor room, you can install a wood or gas fireplace with a full firebox opening, stainless steel construction and classic stone and masonry designs. This look will turn any deck or patio into a stunningly beautiful retreat. There’s even a gas fireplace model for go-anywhere installation on city rooftops or terraces.

Cantilever Umbrella

Sometimes called a reaching or side-arm umbrella, a cantilever umbrella hangs to the side of the frame with its curving arm only supported at one end. This type of construction has several advantages. To begin with, you can place a dining setting underneath the umbrella without having to worry about the center pole. Also, many cantilever umbrellas can be rotated 360 degrees, allowing you to position the shade wherever it is needed. Cantilever umbrellas are also a great solution for shade over a hot tub or areas where the installation of an awning is not possible.

Alternative Tabletops

Most casual furniture manufacturers offer a variety of table top choices over the traditional glass and wrought iron mesh options. This year’s styles include faux and natural stone, tile, granite, marble, mosaic tile, patterned aluminum/iron and composite tops made to look like natural products.

Alternative tops add a touch of elegance to any outdoor setting. In addition, they are less prone to breakage and easier to clean than glass.

Outdoor Rugs

For color and style outside the home, outdoor rugs offer the ultimate in durability. Outdoor rugs are perfect for porches, entryways, kitchens – wherever you have high traffic, or high maintenance areas. They are also a great solution to use under outdoor rockers used on uneven brick pavers or tile. In addition, outdoor rugs are easy to clean–just hose them down, and let them dry!

Outdoor Kitchen

For the serious backyard cook, a professional, fully stocked outdoor kitchen is the ultimate dream. Fortunately there is an option that doesn’t require you know anything about plumbing, masonry or basic construction. Prefabricated grill islands come in all sizes and can offer a whole host of amenities. You can go as far as to add cabinets, refrigerators and dishwashers to your grill island and as much counter space as you want! Grill islands are almost completely customizable—you choose the enclosure you want and then pick out the charcoal or gas grill and additional appliances you want.

Remember…you’ll need to have the water, electric and gas lines in place to plug everything in!

An outdoor kitchen can help you slow down and spend more time with family and friends by putting all the ingredients for outdoor dining close at hand. It can be as simple as a storage cabinet for cooking gear or as ambitious as a full kitchen with grill, refrigerator, sink and eating area. Either way, your yard will gain an outside “room” that’s a natural gathering spot.

Conversation Groups

If you’re thinking about buying or replacing the furniture on your deck, patio, porch or sunroom, you may want to consider a “conversation group” setting. Conversation groups can be found in almost every casual furniture style including cushion, vinyl strap or sling. For a cushioned wicker group you could use four chairs circling an 18” high cocktail table. In this setup, everyone is facing the center of the table, making for a great “conversation” setup. Many of the aluminum sling manufacturers offer a lower sitting chair with a round or square cocktail table. This idea also works well if you’re using a fire pit. For any new furniture purchase, decide first on the use of the space. Will it be used for extra living space, entertaining, dining, a relaxation or reading area? The answer to this question will help you best decide on the furniture you buy!

Patio Heaters

Stay toasty on your deck or patio during even the coldest evenings with a patio heater. Patio heaters come in a variety of styles ranging from free-standing, tabletop and mounted models. Standing heaters can be quite convenient – many styles can burn a variety of fuels, such as gas, propane, and electricity, and many are designed to provide light, as well as heat. Table heaters are portable and great for your patio and the outdoors. Some of the mounted electric models use quartz infrared technology that provides a new, unique means of instant and directional radiant heat.

All heaters should have an area of several feet clear around them to lower the risk of fire.  Other things to consider when looking into patio heaters include how much heat they produce, how large an area they heat, and safety features.

Decorative Accessories

The use of accessories on your deck, patio and screened porch can turn these areas into “outdoor living rooms.” Consider adding an outdoor lamp to add a dash of color, as well as light. Many outdoor lamp styles use removable Sunbrella™ fabric shades that can be washed as needed. This same outdoor fabric is used to make great throws pillow to brighten up an old bench or chair on your patio. Baker’s racks and console tables made from aluminum, wrought iron and all-weather wicker make great entertaining and storage pieces. You’ll find an endless variety of oil lamps, candleholders and acrylic serving pieces to dress up your tables for even the most elegant dinner parties. And…don’t forget the outdoor rugs!

Weatherproof Art

Weatherproof paintings are one example of this creative expression that consumers are seeking to jazz up their outdoor rooms. It is only logical that weatherproof art is now part of the decor found on patios, decks and porches, and poolside. Just as casual furniture caught on, weatherproof art is the next big step in accessorizing the outdoor room.

Beautiful artwork can now be displayed outdoors through the combination of high tech materials and state-of-the-art processes, creating art specifically designed with the outdoor elements in mind. Although there are several manufacturers of outdoor art, the better quality consists of a special composite aluminum, perfectly suited for exterior use, and since there’s no glass, there’s no possibility for breakage! Your artwork can be placed in direct sunlight and can be left outdoors all year long.