By Lance McCarthy
We love the midwest winter, don’t we?
Around Thanksgiving you were probably thinking, “Ok, another mild winter. I can do this.”
And then about a week ago you were probably saying, “Honey, where are my earmuffs?” We love it. We do. Just keep saying that over and over until March.
We had Thanksgiving on the back porch, and now my back porch has ice on it.
One of the main criticisms of outdoor living in this part of the country is the weather. People say, “why would I make a great outdoor space I can only enjoy a few months out of the year?” In my experience, that is usually said by someone who doesn’t want to spend money in general.
But let me flip the question. Since you want to enjoy your outdoor space, how can we make it more comfortable year round?
Here are some ways to make that happen.
Design the space right. $0
I am amazed by how many people skip this easy step. By facing your space to the South (when possible) and using the house or some other structure to block more than one side, you will cut down on wind chill and help the space retain heat longer in the year. By partially enclosing the space (either with walls or curtains), you will also make it easier to stay warm. There is a lot that goes into this, so talk to my architect Joel to figure out how to maximize your space.
Heat lamps $100-$2,000
The portable versions of this are affordable, give off a lot of heat for their size, and can be rolled out of the way when not in use. The built-in versions are pretty cool as well either mounted on a well or a ceiling. This requires some extra work to bring power or gas to them, but is well worth the investment. The beauty of the infra-red radiant heat is that wind doesn’t blow it away.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to create heat is a portable fireplace, or a chimenea. These are easy to use and pretty low hassle.
Outdoor Fireplace $1,000-$20,000
This can be simple or grand depending on your taste. It can be gas only, wood burning, or some combination. But there is nothing quite as sexy as a fireplace outside.
There are all kinds of versions of this. From the simple ring of rocks, to one built into the patio table. Bottom line: fire=heat=good time
Heated patio floor Allow about $15-20 psf
This is not as common, but becoming more popular. It works just like a radiant floor in your house by running a heating system in the concrete. Imagine not having to shovel the snow out there. Imagine grilling steaks without having to take your shoes off when you come in. Pretty sweet.
So give us your best shot Old Man Winter! We are ready for you. But just don’t stay too long. I hate ear muffs.
This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.