Al Fresco Dining, Four Seasons OLS Style

Outdoor dining is trending this year, even in autumn and winter for many areas of the U.S. Outdoor accessories such as kitchens, pizza ovens, heaters, furniture, fire pits, and lighting set the stage for memorable gatherings in the great outdoors...under a patio cover awning from FSOLS of course.

1) Kitchens--from small utilitarian sizes to full scale L-shaped kitchens that bake, roast, air fry, refrigerate and more, there are many styes and brands to choose from. Your best bet is to understand the scale of your gatherings and how much you want to invest in outdoor food prep. If you're the type with a big family and lots of friends, outdoor kitchens give you the convenience of not running back and forth indoors to get dinner on the table. If you plan on one to two big events per year such as birthdays or holidays, then something smaller scale is better. Some of the best options can be found at big box stores as well as online retailers--just search for outdoor kitchens and a plethora of choices will appear.

2) Pizza Ovens--as America's unofficial favorite food, outdoor pizza ovens are gaining popularity, especially because they cook at very high heat, which produces a quality crust unattainable in conventional indoor ovens. Nothing beats fresh pizza with all the toppings, cooked and served outside in your own backyard. Italian brands as well as American made ovens are plentiful from a variety of online sites. It's up to you on the amount you want to spend, but you will get the money back in enjoyment for sure. You will need a pizza peel to get that baby out of the piping hot oven so make sure to pick that up too. Most cook between 500 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit so an oven mitt is just not enough.

3) Heaters--if you are not lucky enough to live in a warm year-round climate, and you want to dine outdoors, then a patio heater is essential. There are tons to choose from. Some are small, table top versions while others are the tall type that restaurants in Europe use. Make your backyard patio cover your backyard patio bistro by installing an outdoor heater. Not all need to be plugged into an electrical outlet; some run on wood pellets or kerosene. Setting it up in a discreet corner of the dining area will ensure no one feels chilly this winter.

4) Furniture--if you invest in nothing else, seating is essential for comfy outdoor living. From chairs, couches and sectionals to dining tables, outdoor living is all about a place to hang out. Think about your routine first. Are you going to sit outside every evening to watch the sunset? Or are you going to have frequent large gatherings, even if it is just for a large family that wants to enjoy the backyard? With the space you have, you will need to determine your needs first, then budget. Outdoor fabrics that can withstand wear and tear from Mother Nature are recommended for cushions. Wood such as teak or budget friendly plastic are perfect for outdoor environments. Metals such as aluminum that do not rust are also a good middle-of-the-road choice. Accessories such as rugs, throws and pillows help doll up the outdoor area, too.

5) Fire Pits--gaining popularity as the ubiquitous backyard focal point of choice, firepits are essential for ambiance and warmth in chilly climes. From smokeless to portable, there are hundreds of choices, many of which are not only sold online but also available from many retail stores that you can pick-up and set-up the same day. And hey, if you are handy, you can even build a custom one yourself.

6) Lighting--nothing adds to a room like lighting. And for those who enjoy evenings outdoors, it is pretty essential. FSOLS patio cover kits with utility beams for lighting are coming soon; check this blog for the launch date. But you can also get solar lights to function pretty well outdoors, providing the ambient lighting to host dinner parties or simply read a book outside. String solar lights can be added around the perimeter of the patio cover as well as festooned under the roof panels for a festive look. And as the holidays approach, don't forget to decorate your awning too or it will feel left out. Seriously folks, options abound with lighting, so don't skip this important feature. Chances are good that a lighting solution exists for your needs, so don't be afraid to explore all options.

One caveat, do not install heating elements under your Contempra Patio Cover. It is not fire resistant like our Optima or TWV Series patio covers. All heating appliances for a Contempra customer should be adjacent to the awning, not situated underneath.


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