Wait! You don’t have to put away the cushions just because there’s a little nip in the air. You’ve enjoyed your outdoor kitchen all summer, so why not keep the good times going? With a little bit of planning, you can keep using your outdoor kitchen well into winter and even with a bit of snow on the ground.
Here are some great ways to warm bodies and enchant your guests as you entertain outside in the chilly winter weather.
Cover & Surround
One of the main factors for utilizing an outdoor kitchen during colder months is to create a contained space that cuts down on winter winds and that can be heated more efficiently. If you have a roofed area over your kitchen, you’re already well on your way.
Even if that roof is a pergola, you can purchase tarps or corrugated fiberglass roofs to keep out the chill and snow. If you’re one of those who like to let the sun in when it’s warm, a more permanent solution is to install a louvered roof that can be opened in summer and closed in winter.
As an added layer of protection and to create a cozy heatable space, there are several options for walling off your covered space. For those who prefer to maintain a view, you can install clear vinyl drop curtains that are let down from the eaves and that roll up tidily when not in use.
Or, for something more permanent, you can put in sliding lightweight glass or plexiglass doors that stack against each other when not in use. Cheaper alternatives include putting in heavy-duty weather-resistant curtains or hinged louvered blinds.
But if your area doesn’t have a roof to which you can attach coverings, don’t despair. There are still ways to cut off the cold. You can purchase free-standing windscreens made of wood, vinyl, or resin composites that will help contain heat during your outdoor gatherings.
The ideal setup for an outdoor gathering is to install a fireplace or permanent fire pit. Forego the oven and stove and roast marshmallows over the flames or set a grill grate up over the fire and throw on a cast iron pot of chili.
If you don’t have a permanent fire fixture for heating, check out the variety of outdoor heaters available that can warm up your party. For those willing to invest, there are mountable ceiling units powered by natural gas that, depending on the size you purchase, can produce 20,000 up to 75,000 BTUs.
Not in your budget? You can buy smaller versions of the umbrella stand heaters you see at malls and restaurants that run off of propane and produce up to 37,500 BTUs. Another great alternative is the free-standing, propane-driven tungsten heater that not only produces a comfy 38,500 BTUs but also comes with wheels so it can be moved to the optimal heating area.
Even on the tightest budget, there are small safe electrical units that produce 3,000-5,000 BTUs and that can often be mounted on ceilings or walls.
Accessorize For Ultimate Warmth
Here’s a final idea for warming up, whether you have a heat source or not, that makes entertaining outside in cold weather a snuggly adventure: Throw some blankets on your sofas and chairs, make a pot of cocoa or coffee or wassail, and encourage guests to snuggle up. And if you want to keep that warm glow about your party, consider investing in a blanket warmer so you can switch out blankets that feel like they’ve just come from the dryer.
While there are industrial models that cost thousands of dollars, you can purchase a much cheaper version, often used by traveling nurses and EMTs, that only weighs a few pounds and heats 4-5 blankets at a time.
So rather than closing down for winter, import the heat. String LED lights on trees or plants for that festive feeling. Fire up a hearty stew or lay out a dutch oven full of delicious soup. Winter doesn’t mean you can’t carry on warm conversations as you entertain in your outdoor kitchen while the snow falls quietly around you.