Canada

Karl Lohnes: Take the heat outside for cooking and entertaining

Whether you are looking for ways to keep warm or want to heat things up in an outdoor kitchen, here are a few ideas to keep summer sizzling.

Vancouver's Sherwood Outdoor Kitchens utilize flame- and scratch-resistant Dekton Entzo on its backsplashes to ensure durability and style. www.cosentino.com.

In the heat of the summer, sweltering temps can be uncomfortable, but in early (or late) summer months, a little rise in the local temperature is a welcome thing. This week, I’m checking out some ways to heat up your summer nights and make outdoor living more enjoyable.

Early and late in the season, nights can be chilly after sundown, so staying warm is essential to extending our short-lived summers. That said, warm days heat up the house, and who wants to cook in an already toasty kitchen? That explains why, more and more, outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity, even in our short four-month summer. So whether you are looking for ways to keep your shoulders warm on a cool night or wanting to heat things up in an outdoor kitchen, here are a few ideas to keep summer sizzling — in a good way.

Entertaining

There’s nothing cozier (or more romantic) than a safe evening campfire. A modern fire pit emulates that vibe even in the city. Urban/modern fire pits are fuelled by propane or natural gas, which enables instant flames without chopping wood or cleaning up ashes.

A fire pit usually requires furniture placement of a socially distanced circle of chairs, but I like to flank two long sofas on each side (similar to a formal, symmetrical living room setting with two sofas and a coffee table), creating a place to lie down under the stars while staying warm and watching the dancing flames. Tip: Fire pit finishes inspired from nature are your best bet: metal, stone or concrete will mesh well with natural outdoor surroundings.

A fire pit creates a warm focal point in outdoor seating arrangements. Concrete Gas Fire Pit, $700, homesense.ca
A fire pit creates a warm focal point in outdoor seating arrangements. Concrete Gas Fire Pit, $700, homesense.ca

Cooking

The outdoor kitchen is a lifestyle trend that has grown in Canada over the past few years. Not only does outdoor cooking help you take the heat out of the kitchen during the hot summer months, it also creates a new way of using the backyard for outdoor dining and entertaining.

The biggest concern with outdoor kitchens are the natural elements it has to withstand throughout the year. Outdoor designers and landscape architects look to quality outdoor stainless-steel built-in BBQs and appliances, and surfaces that can withstand the freezing winter and sizzling temperatures from cooking and from summer weather.

A popular surfacing material for countertops, barbecue surrounds and backsplashes is Dekton by Cosentino, a scratch- and heat resistant all-weather surface that is superior to granite or stone. Many of Dekton’s looks emulate the look of natural stone, blending it seamlessly into the great outdoors.

Spot heating helps utilize your outdoor environment on chilly summer nights. EnerG+ infrared 1,500-watt electric hanging heater, $170, Wayfair.ca
Spot heating helps utilize your outdoor environment on chilly summer nights. EnerG+ infrared 1,500-watt electric hanging heater, $170, Wayfair.ca

Heating

A patio heater is your best friend for keeping shoulders warm when cool evening breezes blow. It can help you extend your season from late spring to early fall, so can really be cost-effective when amortized over a longer outdoor season.

For safety, place a heater in the corners of a terrace or hang in a porch overhang to take the chill off of outdoor entertaining. While many heaters are fuelled by propane or natural gas, I especially like the electric infrared heaters that require no fussing with gas lines or tanks, and no real flames.

EnerG+’s infrared electric hanging patio heater is a great contender as it is lightweight for hanging, radiates a soft heat, and has a vintage mid-century-modern vibe — a super-hot outdoor style trend this summer.

Warming Trends

Here are a few more ways to create sizzle outside on a cool summer nights.

— Add a tabletop electric barbecue and host an interactive evening (COVID-19 restrictions respected) sipping wine and grilling a variety of meats, breads and veggies — it’s like a fondue, but grill-style.

— Small tabletop torch pots are a great way to add a small amount of heat to a sitting area while creating the ambiance of a flame.

— Drape lightweight throws over the back of each chair so they’re waiting and ready in case guests feel a nighttime chill.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl on Instagram at Karl Lohnes.

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