To begin, think a bit about how you’ll use your space. When Shai DeLuca, a Toronto-based designer and TV personality, works with clients with larger patios, he divides up the square footage, much the way a house with an open floor plan is divided into various living arrangements. Split your patio into zones, creating intimate, small spaces that offer a refuge when you’ve had enough togetherness.
Of course, how you design and outfit your patio may come down to what you can still get. At the online retailer Wayfair, searches for patio heaters over the past five weeks were up more than 70 percent from this time last year. Dan Crepps, the general manager of Interior Design for Wayfair Professional, said that the site was already seeing increased sales on heaters, fire pits, layered textiles (think pillows and blankets) and outdoor lighting.
John Merris, the chief executive of Solo Stove, which makes smokeless backyard fire pits, said his company had finally restocked its inventory after an unusually lucrative summer. In a typical year, Solo Stove moves a lot of product in early spring, but things taper in July and August. That lull never happened.
Fire pits have been big for a while. What is new, however, is how people are using their outdoor living spaces. Joe Raboine, who has spent 25 years in the patio industry, most recently with the paver company Belgard, says that previously clients wanted patio spaces that would work for entertaining. Now families are focused on building spaces that bring them comfort and improve everyday quality of life.
If you’re looking for comfort this fall, start by looking for warmth, Mr. DeLucasaid. Fire pits are an obvious choice, but that’s hardly your only option. In fact, many condo and city dwellers may find that homeowners associations or local municipalities do not allow wood-burning products, though some condos may allow small gas fire tables. While not as warm, Mr. Raboine said, they can serve as a stunning centerpiece.