Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
Crisp mornings, colorful foliage and the urge to squeeze the most out of waning daylight hours add up to a bundle of good reasons to enjoy your outdoor rooms and spaces this fall. From outdoor dinner parties to s'mores around the fire pit, the following ideas are meant to inspire you to make the most of your space and, most important, savor those little found pockets of time. Email can wait -- but the fall leaves are going fast!
1. Gather round the outdoor fireplace. Fall is the perfect time for making use of an outdoor fireplace -- and even better if it's located on a covered porch. Finish your outdoor room with a natural-fiber (or natural-fiber-look) rug and outdoor couches with plenty of cushy pillows. A chandelier and pot of fresh flowers would make just-right finishing touches.
2. Host an all-out formal dinner party outdoors. Even if it's chilly, folks can cozy up in tightly spaced seats around a long table. By the time your guests have been seated, candles and lanterns have been lit, and wine has been poured, the mood is sure to be festive. Drape a throw over the back of each chair and encourage guests to cozy up if they feel chilly.
3. Cozy up seats with sheepskins. Real or faux; it doesn't matter. The point is to put something deliciously thick and fluffy between you and that cold, hard seat. Faux-fur throws, folded lengthwise, would work well, too.
4. Start with a brisk walk in the fresh air. There is no better way to appreciate a crisp day than with a refreshing walk, preferably in a scenic locale. Try planning your walking route to pass by a horse farm or an apple orchard, or simply walk in your own neighborhood, noticing things you usually zip by in the car. Once your cheeks are rosy, retire to your porch or back deck with a mug of hot apple cider and put your feet up.
5. Keep a well-lit porch. There is something so inviting about a porch lit with warm, glowing light; you almost can't help but sit down and relax for a spell. Aim to have at least three sources of light -- a pair of sconces plus an overhead fixture, for instance. But you can also borrow light from inside your house by way of transom windows over the door, and by keeping indoor shades up while you are out sitting.
6. Create a warm glow with candles. Use real pillar candles or the battery-operated kind -- the main thing is to use them in abundance. They won't provide the same kind of warmth as a fire, but you may be surprised at how just looking at flickering candlelight can make you feel warmer.
7. Embrace the semioutdoors. An indoor-outdoor room with sliding barn doors to help control the temperature would be a dream place to entertain and hang out in.
8. Create your own camp experience. A built-in fire pit is the perfect gathering space for late-night chats, family campouts and post-dinner-party drinks. For a more rustic look, chop your own old logs into DIY seats and set them up in a ring around the fire pit in a remote corner of your yard. Of course, s'mores are mandatory.
9. Build outdoor time into your daily routine. Whether you have an outdoor fireplace, a fire pit, a back deck or a cozy little porch, the important thing is that it's well used and loved. So if you find you haven't been getting out there as much as you would like, think about when during your day you could sneak in a bit of outdoor R&R. Take your mug of coffee out to the porch each morning, or catch up with your partner over a glass of wine by the fire after work ... just get out there and enjoy!