I don’t know about where you live but here in North Georgia, we had a cool front hit that past weekend and while a lot of rain came with it, it is glorious! I don’t like summer, so I’ve been ready for fall since March; and while I know we’ll be seeing higher temps return any day now, I love knowing that autumn is on the horizon. Even though we actually spend more time on our back deck when the cooler temps start to creep in, it’s usually when our deck looks a bit battered and well… dead. We prep the outdoors each spring but inevitably, even our heartiest plants look like they’ve seen better days by the time August arrives — the greenest leaves are filled with holes from bugs and of course, there’s those dead heads we never bothered to prune. All that said, this year, we decided to be proactive. We’ve already taken steps to make our outdoor living space a place that is revived and equipped with everything we need to comfortably enjoy the outdoors this fall. In the process, I noted three key items to bring out as fall heads in.
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Easy Summer to Fall Outdoor Living Transitions
Before we started bringing in and setting up, we first eliminated some of the “sadness”; we dug through our roughest looking planters, pulling out deep roots and discarding plants that were at their peak three months ago and replaced them with some hearty foliage (that were giving off major fall vibes). Sweet potato vines are one of my go-to’s for ease and minimal maintenance but I’ve never tried the purple variety. I think they look like overflowing Japanese maple leaves so I’m already a big fan. *See four plants that thrive in the hot Georgia sun HERE.
The mat at our back door was faded and… well, the only fitting word I can think of is crusty. THIS $11 find couldn’t have been a better fit; our pups go in and out of this door no fewer than 597 times a day haha. Having our deck re-stained is on our list for next year.
Also pretty “crusty”? Our metal lanterns that have been sitting in this space for the past five years. THESE were an inexpensive replacement and here’s a hack — I actually shared this in my Instagram stories a while back and all the credit goes to Dave. That larger lantern in the back — well, it actually houses an outdoor speaker. If you have any gaps/notches in an enclosed lantern for a tiny cord to run through, you can do the same. We leave ours out here all the time but as a caveat, there’s a chance it won’t shield the outdoor elements in their entirety forever. Our speaker wasn’t a big investment so if we eventually have to replace, we are ok with that. We’ve been going strong though, for the past few years. The venting up top even lets “her” hear your voice command without taking “her” out of the lantern. Obviously, set it out when you are wanting to hear it clearly and loudly 😉
The outdoor curtain will also be coming down soon for the remainder of the year. But, since we’re not yet to those cool months, we’re keeping them out a bit longer. So, now that we’ve run through a few of our change-up and clean-out items, let’s talk about the three fall additions we’re pumped about. Aesthetics and maintenance are great but what I’m most excited about are those things that will actually encourage us to use and enjoy our outdoor spaces (ie: heat and comfort.)
1. Table Top Fire Pit
**I need to preface this section with a safety reminder. When it comes to best practices, fire, gas, safety, etc., always do your homework. Our space is open air and while a wood-burning fire pit would be a major no-no here, the propane fueled flames in this firebox don’t spark. They are controlled. Read on for more considerations I had before opting for a gas fire pit table. As an FYI – we will be removing our curtains before using any open flame on the porch; in the meantime — before summer ends and before we start using our heat tools — I tied them up to prevent any fire hazards.
A fire pit in some form has been on “our list” for years. But, I knew something wood burning would likely be out of the question for us as I didn’t see us making the effort to go sit in the yard, away from the house, to enjoy it. I loved the idea (and look) of a table top fire pit but didn’t know enough to establish if it was “okay” in our outdoor space. After researching and confirming what Dave had already explained, I ordered THIS table. It holds a propane tank underneath and has a flip-up panel with an ignition switch and dial. Think gas grill style. I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank for our first venture, stored a tank underneath, and was small enough to fit in our sectional area; the reviews convinced me.
I’ll admit, with the narrow fire box channel, we didn’t have high hopes for major heat-ability but after Dave put it together (which took right at an hour) and started it up, we were more than pleasantly surprised. Granted, we haven’t been able to test in the actual cool weather months but I’m more than confident that it’s going to do more than its share of helping us stay toasty when the sun goes down. I don’t know how the semantics work but somehow, the small controlled flames put off this warm, radiating heat but the surface of the table — especially along the periphery — don’t get too warm. As a matter of fact, the copper mug handles that were sitting on the table stayed cool to the touch. Again, no idea how that happens but we are stoked. Along with dinners, snacks, and drinks, it’s perfect for s’mores. I hate s’mores charred in a wood burning fire and after sampling a few, these are perfect.
And of course, now that we have our very own s’mores station, I upgraded our makeshift metal skewers to these retractable pronged forks. (If you do make s’mores by a campfire, these give a lot of length to keep you further back from the fire.)
Instead of the typical volcano rock that comes in a lot of fire pit tables, I love that this one came with clear/white glass fire rocks. You can change the color scheme with one of the below, too 😉
Scroll & Tap to Shop/Browse Fire Pit Glass
And as a major perk (like I mentioned, we don’t plan to have the fire going all the time), it has a cover with a handle that is flush to the table. Perfect for a food spread or, in our house, game nights 😉 FYI- I am currently the undefeated, reigning Scrabble champ in this family.
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Again, don’t set it too close to the flame where it would scorch but this rattan tray, corralling the s’mores makings, is a new favorite; you can find it HERE.
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2. Heat Lamp
So, heat lamps are not new to us; we actually bring them out every fall. That is, until last year when Dave wasn’t able to make the one we had had for several years start. It wasn’t a huge loss because 1. it was on the smaller side and didn’t put off as much heat as we’d like, and 2. it didn’t have wheels (not fun to relocate). So, a new heat lamp was on our list for this year and upon first impression, it’s taller and more substantial than our last, puts off more heat than our former, has great reviews and has wheels! Like the fire pit table, it is also fueled by a propane tank.
We use a monitor and Roku stick outside to watch football games (and even movies) and having a heat lamp has been key. Ours (you can find it HERE) comes in three finishes — we have the Ash & Stainless. *Not to beat a dead horse (I don’t know that I’ve ever used that expression? haha) but just to punctuate my earlier caveat, we will not have the heat lamp lit around curtains where they could blow into it 😉
3. Deck Storage Box
Honestly, I don’t know how we ever got along without one of these. We have actually had THIS large one (122 gallon) for a few years but recently purchased THIS 99 gallon version so Dave could add one to the basement. From summer cushions (or pillows to weather a storm), camping chairs, and lawn tools to sports equipment/games, lanterns, and throw blankets for chilly nights, these deck boxes are all-weather and are awesome for keeping things stored, in place, during the cooler months.
This is the 99 gallon version and what I don’t think you can accurately tell is how much more this cabinet can hold (it’s maybe at 1/3 capacity here). The two notable differences between the sizes were 1. the 122 gallon has shocks for easy-open that will keep it open as well as a clench-able handle; the 99 gallon has straps and a handle that clicks down. Both work great, can take a padlock, and are similarly sized but I definitely prefer the extras on the 122 gallon version 😉
This seasonal transition was easy in that I didn’t have to start my outdoor space from scratch; I took how it was set for spring and summer, pared it down, and added in the comforts, heat, and storage that would help us maximize usage on our back deck this fall. One of the most daunting, procrastination-enabling things about bringing in larger pieces is the idea of having to drive to a store, hunt them down, figure out how to haul them home, etc. Everything (the tabletop fire pit, heat lamp, and deck box) all shipped from Walmart — for free — and arrived within a few days of when I placed my order. I’m sure my delivery people weren’t too fond of me but it sure beats trying to drag and haul any single one of these items myself haha. Then again, if you’re in a super hurry, some of these are available for store pick-up and some large home items even come with an in-store pick-up discount incentive. You can find more from the seasonal, outdoor, and home ‘DIY & Done’ collections HERE.
I’m sure I’ll be sharing our heat and ambiance solutions, this fall, during football season in my Instagram stories so to see them in action, be sure to follow me over in the app @kelleynan.
Have fall essentials that you bring to the outdoors as summer comes to a close? Let me know in the comment section below!