The chillier months are here, yet many homeowners want to know how to extend the life of their outdoor spaces. With a few special touches, family and guests can be encouraged to step outside and warm up by the fire. Two area shops, The Schaefer House and Hy-Vee Floral, give ideas about warming up outdoor areas. We say, serve up the hot cocoa, step outside and enjoy!

Holiday Connections

Holiday Connections  - Outdoor Fire PlaceA grand-sized stone fireplace with ample area for guests and an active family of five was the decorating challenge given to Devan Westcott, floral designer and home décor consultant with Hy-Vee Floral. “This massive fireplace lends itself to largescale decorations,” Netcott says. “I chose the largest wreath we had available, and because this is a family with three small children, I made everything whimsical.” Netcott encourages families, especially with small children, to keep decorations simple and fun yet, at the same time, stylish enough for adults.

“We simply hung the wreath, framed evergreens on each side of the fireplace to add warmth and brought a train large enough for children to sit in,” Netcott says. “The kids immediately lit up, and yet it still provides an appealing backdrop for adult gatherings. The oversized white snowflakes on the wreath will look especially elegant in evening light.”

Autumn Outings

Autumn Outings- Outdoor Fire PlaceAccording to Susie Schaefer, owner of The Schaefer House, fall is one of the best times to decorate both inside and out. Vivid colors and interesting textures can bring added depth not available during summer months. “I take inspiration from the multitude of colors and textures that surround us along the river bluffs and country roads in our surrounding communities,” Schaefer says.

“Warm hues of crimson, persimmon and gold complemented with varied shades of green and brown make for a cozy decorating palette.”

Practicality and versatile usage are keys when choosing outdoor pieces. Schaefer helps homeowners expand their living areas by making the outdoors an extension of the indoors.

“Many homeowners can double their living space by adding an outdoor area,” Schaefer says. “I recommend filling the space with pieces that suit your lifestyle and design preferences as an extension of your home. Remember to choose fabrics and materials that are UV protected to prevent fading or damage due to the weather. Many of our vendors offer indoor/outdoor rugs, pillows and accents that are tailor-made for all-weather areas. I prefer to select pieces that are multifunctional and can be used in a variety of areas both inside and out. If you’re worried about a piece holding up to excessive sun and moisture, give it a few coats of exterior polyurethane spray with UV protection.”

When accessorizing your outdoor room, it’s important to keep the scale of the space in mind. Such is the case with this striking brick and stone fireplace; the height is a strength and should be complemented with pieces that reflect its scale.

“Large iron candlesticks can act as a pillar for outdoor candles like the ones we have featured,” Schaefer says, “but they can also become a pedestal to showcase other accessories or seasonal accents such as plump and colorful pumpkins for fall. We have added a signature monogram initial in the large lantern for a unique personal touch.”

To top off your gathering with panache, stock an attractive tray with drinks or snacks, and be sure to write a clever chalkboard message welcoming your guests.