Entertaining and relaxing outdoors don’t need to be limited to the summer months – with a few smart touches, you can create a super-snuggly haven to enjoy with friends and family all year round, whatever the weather.
Wondering how to cosy up your outdoor entertaining area? Here are some easy decorating ideas to warm up the space, including practical tips from Carlisle’s Interior Design Manager, Jessica Hodges.
Turn up the heat
Shivering outside over a weekend meal with friends and family doesn’t sound terribly appealing. Keeping it warm in winter comes down to two key factors: heating and an abundance of cosy layers.
“An outdoor gas fireplace, a portable outdoor heater or a ceiling-mounted strip heater will instantly warm up your outdoor area,” says Hodges. “If you’re building a new home, be sure to plan ahead and think how spaces will be used. If an outdoor fireplace or fixed heater is something you want to include post-handover, make sure elements like power and gas points are roughed in before the walls are sealed.”
You can add extra warmth and dial up the snuggle factor with a medley of cosy blankets and throws that guests can use on chilly nights – they also look lovely draped over outdoor sofas and chairs.
Or, if your estate allows it, consider splashing out on a firepit for your alfresco. Not only will it help with keeping it warm in winter, but it’s perfect for toasting marshmallows.
Shelter from the elements
Melbourne winters often come with a lot of wind and rain. So here’s one of our top alfresco entertaining tips for winter: keep the elements at bay by adding cover to your alfresco area.
Fortunately, Carlisle homes are specially designed to deal with this – all our entertainer’s terraces are protected by a ceiling. But you may wish to add additional protection in the form of outdoor blinds, which effectively create an outdoor room, or a sturdy screen to stop sharp winds from driving you indoors.
The right furniture, lighting and home furnishings will add an essential finishing touch to your alfresco area. Consider upholstered outdoor furniture in covered areas and powder-coated metal furniture for more exposed positions and pair with soft cushions and cosy throws. Pictured here 1. M+Co Living, Outdoor Lounge, 2. The Modern Traditionalists, Outdoor Dining Table, 3. Norsu Interiors, Bata Sorrento Throw and 4. James Lane, Cushion.
Bring in fashionable furnishings
Make your alfresco living space just as appealing as your indoor one by introducing cosy winter home décor and furniture, in fashionable shapes and colours – think of them as your outdoor entertaining must-haves for winter!
“Soft accents colours are making their way back into the outdoor furniture space – think a feature dining table in a powder-coated colour like muted blue or green, and coloured dining chair frames and side tables in a tonal or contrasting shade,” says Hodges. “The trend for muted hues has shifted to décor items too, with softly coloured servingware, cushions, outdoor sofa fabrics and outdoor umbrellas.”
When it comes to the latest outdoor furniture shapes, curves are just as popular outside as they are inside in 2023; “Round outdoor tables have been on-trend for some time now, and they are great for small spaces as they allow people to easily move around,” she says.
An outdoor sofa can be a great investment, offering all the delicious comfort of an indoor sofa and providing the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail with friends or read a book on a quiet winter afternoon. Choose a style with removable, washable covers and quick-drying cushions to keep it looking good for longer.
Choose the right materials
“Classic timber outdoor furniture is always going to be in style, but if your alfresco is exposed to the elements, it’s worth considering a more durable, lower-maintenance material, such as powder-coated metal,” says Hodges. “It will increase the lifespan of your furniture and keep it looking brand new.”
Or, if you love the appearance of natural rattan, but not the upkeep, consider today’s quality synthetic rattan furniture, which is maintenance-free and designed to cope with the elements.
By including comfy outdoor sofas, heating and shelter, you can make your alfresco a cosy extension of your living space all year round. Pictured here Granada Grand at Kaduna Estate.
Make it comfortable
No inviting winter home is complete without layers of comfort – whether that’s inside or out. “Make your home cosy for winter by introducing items that put a focus on comfort and relaxation, such as outdoor sofas with generous seats that you can sink into, cosy outdoor rugs underfoot and textural throws,” says Hodges. “Comfort also extends to factors such as the size of your outdoor dining table – make sure it’s big enough for everyone to sit side by side comfortably, without bumping elbows.”
Add lovely lighting
It gets dark early in the winter months, so good outdoor lighting is a must. A few well-placed light fixtures will create a gorgeous warm, glow that draws people outside and has the added effect of freshening up your home for the new season.
“Beautiful wall lighting is a great way to dress up a plain rendered wall. From there, add a few strategically placed garden lights and feature festoon lights strung up around your dining or seating area. You could even add portable LED outdoor lighting on your dining or side tables. A layered outdoor lighting layout like this can be truly magical – you’ll never want to go back inside!” says Hodges.
Looking for ideas for your alfresco area? Fuel your design thinking with a visit to our beautifully decorated display homes, which are located right across Melbourne.