The harshness of the Calgary winters seems to force people either indoors or out to the mountains for skiing. No one thinks that their beautiful patio could be used in such cold weather, but they’re the ones ignoring the perfect winter escape when you’ve feel that you’ve only ever lived inside. Don’t run away and hibernate from your patio just because it is wintertime! There are lots of ways you can have a functional patio in the middle of February. All you need is some preparation work in the fall before the white starts to fly, a trusty shovel to clear the snow and plenty of layers and hot chocolate to keep you outside for as long as possible!
Whether your desire is to hang out with your loved ones in the evenings or on a quiet Saturday afternoon with tea, the following ideas will ensure you make the most of your patio all season long:
Add a Wind Breaker Wall
Have you ever thought about installing a windbreak wall? With this type of wall, you can still enjoy the view of your surroundings while it shields you from wind gusts. This will also help transform the overall look of your patio providing space to display décor, outdoor thermometers or add storage hooks and shelves. They are easy to install, either drilled down into your deck or buried into the dirt on the edge of the patio. You can go for a simple post and panel fence design for maximum shielding, or a series of thinner pieces that will give you greater flexibility with the shape.
In either case, make sure your foundations are deep and strong, and that the placement of the wind breaker wall is correct in relation to the direction of the most common winds on your patio. You can measure these with a simple wind sock during the summer and fall to get an idea of where to install the wall.
Add Throw Pillows and Warm Blankets
There is nothing more comforting than having blankets and throw pillows to keep you and your guests warm while you enjoy the evening on your patio. The overall decor also gets a boost when you add the throw pillows to the decor, especially if the upholstery in the patio furniture is pale. An extra special investment is an electric blanket that you can heat up before heading outside; your friends and family will be fighting to get outside to sit under this. Just make sure that your outlets are covered and you bring the blanket inside afterward to avoid damage to the electronics.
You will need to factor in storage places for these soft furnishing when you’re outside as the very fabrics that make them so warm and cozy are the ones least resistant to rain, ice and snow. An ottoman with inside storage is a great purchase as it doubles up as a footrest and a handy place to pack up pillows and blankets into once you’re done.
Here are some of our favorite throw pillows and blankets
Winthome Luxury Extra Soft Wool Blanket Throw
Modern Simple Geometric Style Soft Linen Burlap Square
Northpoint Cashmere Velvet
Deconovo Corduroy Tufted Home Decorative Pillow
Add an Outdoor Heater or Fireplace
To enjoy a quiet relaxing evening on your patio, it is necessary that you have optimum heating to keep you warm as well as lighting throughout the night. You can opt for a permanent fireplace, but a portable fireplace will give you more flexibility and allow for rearranging of your patio down the road.
A fireplace is a truly all year investment for your patio – think about campfire marshmallows in the summer time as well as the heat source during the winter. If you have a smaller patio, a chimnea could be a great solution as they are tall and thin, as well as being more decorative and aesthetically pleasing. If you’re not wild on the idea of having burning wood or charcoal near younger children or your wooden deck, you can buy electric fireplace that simulate real flames and heat, but either run through electricity or propane. These give you much more control over the size and location of the flames, as well as the amount of heat and smoke being produces.
If installing a fireplace is not your thing, you can become more creative with the addition of an outdoor heater. Most of the heaters come as propane-powered. So, while you sit with your loved ones, sipping hot chocolate, tea and telling stories, the outdoor heater will keep everyone warm and toasty.
Add Carpet and Lighting
Outdoor carpet is perfect for adding comfort and warmth to a patio area. It holds up incredibly well, with a potential life of up to 20 years and is very easy to clean. When you’re shopping, you’re looking for a tight weave that feels almost scratchy to the touch. This will help you avoid debris and snow from falling in down into the carpet bed, which is where all the long term damage gets done. The added bonus is that this style of carpet is way easier to vacuum after a messy snack or a shedding dog!
Liven up your patio with outdoor table lamps, string lights or help your family enjoy a game of Monopoly with good patio lighting. Outdoor lighting adds elegance and functionality to any space. String lighting in particular will make your patio feel cozy and inviting when it’s dark and cold in the garden, as well as lending a soft, more natural light to your entertainment.
Add Skylights and Let the Sunshine In
Everyone loves skylights. They bring light in and turn a dark patio into a bright and sunny escape. Especially this time of year, having that extra light brighten even the darkest days of winter. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and can’t spend a lot of time outdoors, being in well-lit interior space can make all the difference. There is also the added benefit of solar heating from a skylight. To do so, you’ll need to make sure you get one with a high solar heat gain coefficient.
Enjoying an ambient and dry patio during winter is achievable. With the use of outdoor heaters, throw pillows and blankets, enclosed patios and wind breaking walls, you will be able to enjoy yourself in the winter instead of spending the winter hibernating inside.
Tell us: What are some of your favourite ways to keep warm on your patio during the cold winter months? Do you have a special hot chocolate or soup recipe you enjoy?