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Winter Uses for Outdoor Space

By Cathy Hobbs, ASID Created: January 1, 2013 Last Updated: January 3, 2013
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A fire pit may sound like a medieval contraption, but is actually a warming touch to any outdoor space, as well as a conversation starter for entertaining crowds both large and small. (photos.com)

A fire pit may sound like a medieval contraption, but is actually a warming touch to any outdoor space, as well as a conversation starter for entertaining crowds both large and small. (photos.com)

From dramatic fireplaces and radiant flooring to heated outdoor entertainment spaces, with winter upon us, how does one enjoy outdoor living space? Bringing the indoors out has long been desirable for those looking to enjoy their outdoor spaces year-round.

An outdoor living space can be just that: a living space that serves as an additional room. Because of this, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces have always been desired luxury items, and the fire pit is also quickly gaining popularity as an immensely desirable alternative to a traditional outdoor fireplace.

Outdoor Kitchens

From outdoor grilling to full-blown kitchens, who doesn’t like to cook outside and dine alfresco? Outdoor kitchens, while often the standard in many luxury homes on the West Coast where warm nights are more plentiful, can truly be an extension of any home, no matter the geographic location.

Outdoor kitchens have a lure and appeal all their own. Outdoor kitchens, just like indoor ones, can truly serve as the “heart” of any outdoor living environment. Some of the must-haves for an outdoor kitchen include a grilling surface and small refrigerator. Want to splurge? Why not add an oven, and a fixed seating area like an elevated bar or built-in bench seating.

Outdoor Fireplaces

From residential homes in popular vacation and entertaining destinations like The Hamptons to outdoor nightclubs in destinations such as Ibiza and Mykonos, I have experienced and appreciated outdoor fireplaces as a key décor element as it relates to creating a luxury environment and a seductive mood.

There is something desirable about an outdoor fire. Whether it is for warmth or for aesthetic reasons, there is simply a certain amount of romanticism associated with fire. These days, especially as people want to maximize space and enjoy their homes year-round, people are often looking for ways to create a sense of coziness and purpose with their outdoor space. An outdoor fireplace can serve as both the center of a dramatic and luxurious space for entertaining and as a more subdued and rustic experience, perfect for quiet nights spent around the fire with loved ones.

Fire Pits

The fire pit, unlike other outdoor projects, is relatively affordable; and depending on the desired size and look, it can be a relatively straightforward outdoor project. Additionally, a fire pit can be transportable and mobile, if desired, meaning it does not have to be a permanent structure and can be moved around one’s property.

Even so, fire pits can be quite elaborate, ranging from the rustic to ultramodern, and can be executed as built-in stone or concrete structures, sunk into the ground, or even built above ground to include dining surfaces and even bowls.

Whether it’s a modern or rustic setting, I love the integration of stone and concrete into a fire pit. As an interior designer, one of my favorite companies for fire pits is Concrete Works (www.concreteworks.com). Their Diablo Fire bowl is simply spectacular.

Whether you are looking to purchase a fire pit or have one custom-made by a professional mason, I believe the integration of stone, concrete, and wood is one of the most desirable combinations. Concrete is a great choice for those looking to achieve a sleek modern look, while the use of stone and wood lends itself seamlessly to a more rustic and natural environment.

Five-time Emmy Award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs is the founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes, a New York City-based firm specializing in interior design, home staging, and home staging training. Go to www.cathyhobbs.com to learn more about Cathy, or to ask her a home staging or design question, send a tweet to @cathyhobbs.

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