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Conference calls on the porch, high-intensity workouts in the garage, family dinner on the patio: For many people, home is much more than where the heart is. Thanks to the digital era, we’re using our domestic domains in ways we never imagined—especially when nice weather feels like it’s just begging you to live your best life.
But as colder temps begin to creep in, you don’t have to give up on these converted spaces. In the same way your at-home uniform might go from shorts and tees to wool and fleece, your porch can keep being used with some seasonal additions.
To help power up your outdoor action plan, here’s how to keep on chilling—or working—in these areas without breaking your back, or your budget.
Sure, we all know about spring cleaning—it’s the way we wake up our inner neat-freak after months of hibernation. But fall is also a great time to burn some energy with a deep-dive into the world of disinfectants. After all of the summertime activities these multi-functional spaces were treated to, they deserve a good scrub.
Start by sweeping. Pull out all of the furniture or anything else that might be in your way of tackling every square inch. Shake out any floor rugs and while you’re at it, give your lounge chair or wicker sofa some tough love by removing stains with a fabric-friendly cleaner, like Scotts® Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean™ Ready to Use. The bleach-free formula works on a variety of surfaces, so use it to wipe down window sills or potted plant containers, too. Enclosed areas like 3-season porches and sunrooms can collect a bunch of dust, so as you put any decorative objects back in their spots, shine them up with a feather duster or an old rag (like that college t-shirt you outgrew).
For larger areas, like the floors of your deck, garage, or patio, mix Scotts® Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean™ Concentrate with water to scrub away mold, or mop up dirt that may have built up over time. So it’s sweep, dust, scrub, and boom! You can call it a day.
Clear out any storage bins that might have been filled with summer stuff and swap it for cold-weather needs. Put knitted beanies and gloves where your wide-brimmed hat once was, add a thermos instead of bottles of sunscreen, and replace beach towels with warm blankets—lots of blankets! On-hand layers and supplies will keep everyone comfortable for longer stints outside the warmth of your house.
There’s still time in late fall and winter, depending on your location, to plant a fence of wind-breaking evergreens in your backyards, such as spruce, fir, or juniper trees. For a lower commitment level, add a dense row of hardy container plants around your patio. Boxwoods, cypress, or hollies can provide a barrier between you and the elements. Just be sure to check out your planting zone, and follow any tag or packaging instructions on how to take care of the plants you’ve chosen. For more info about what could work best for your region, contact your local extension service, a network of educators who can offer a lot of solid advice.
Consider heating your space the way restaurants do, and add a heat lamp to your own home venue. There are plenty of options, from temporary to permanent fixtures. Low-key choices include electric tabletop units or a portable space heater (check that you have an exterior electrical outlet). For more intense heat, try a propane-powered freestanding unit. And if space is limited, consider adding a wall- or ceiling-mounted heater.
When daylight disappears earlier on, additional lighting can help extend the timeframe for outdoor activities. Large, slow-burning candles create a warm glow, while string lights are a pragmatic way to add a festive vibe. For functional illumination, place a rechargeable LED lamp on a side table, floor, or window sill.
Whether you’re taking advantage of working from home with a post-lunch snooze on the porch or your secluded deck is the only quiet place to catch some Zs on the weekend, keep those power naps going. They really do help! All you need on cooler days are weather-resistant pillows and heavy blankets. More active than sleepy? Warm up a cold garage floor with gym mats if that’s your preferred place to train, or add outdoor rugs to a sunroom for morning stretches.
Consider screening in your porch if it isn’t already. Install retractable sunshades to cut down on winter glare, or canvas to keep out wind, rain, and falling leaves. For rooms that aren’t heated like the rest of your house but have some built-in protection, insulate them further with plastic sheeting around the windows or heavy-duty curtains. You’ll keep warm while kicking back to watch the leaves fall, or heck, even witness the first snowfall. Call in the fam and cue the hot cider.
These are just a few of the ways you can continue using your outdoor space for beating deadlines, brunching with your brood, or just enjoying some downtime. Don’t let cold weather drive you back inside—the simple pleasures of outdoor living are just too stellar to give up.