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Ideas for an appealing winter outdoor area

From the Resene decorating blog

There’s nothing like a good indoor/outdoor flow to give your home a sense of scale, space and freedom. But it can get tricky when the chilly, wet and windy weather strikes. A damp, cold outdoor seating area isn’t going to be very inviting on a cold day or evening.

Here are some simple areas to pay attention to that will help you transform your outdoor living areas so they’re usable all year round.

An appealing outdoor area

Lighting and accessories are easy ways to make an outdoor area appealing. Wall painted in Resene Triple Merino, floor in Resene Woodsman Tiri, screen in Resene Kashmir Blue, breeze blocks and benchtop in Resene Triple Merino, trolley and rattan tray table in Resene Indian Ink, planter boxes in Resene Smokescreen with decoration in Resene Indian Ink, large planter pot is Resene Alabaster and small plant pot in Resene Kashmir Blue. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

One very popular concept to embrace is the Danish hygge (pronounced hue-ga) which describes a blissful state of cosiness. The Danes certainly understand cold weather, but they have turned enjoying it into an art-form. Picture cosy outdoor spaces, with warm, flickering light and friends gathered to chat over hot drinks.


Like moths to the flame nothing draws us outside, whatever the temperature, than inviting light.

Approach your outdoor lighting similarly to how you would indoors. Some will be functional to make sure people don’t trip or bump into things – or allow you to read, elsewhere it might be ambient to create intimate spaces and some lighting might be purely to surprise and delight, like quirky strings of fairy lights or sculptural torch stakes lit by either candles or soft bulbs.


Heat and light go hand in hand when it comes to luring people outdoors to gather in cooler weather.

A good outdoor fire, whether it’s via a built-in fireplace, or – safety permitting – a fire pit, lends a gentle flickering light to night-time gatherings as well as essential heat, and even cooking facilities, even if it’s just to melt a few marshmallows with the kids.

There are plenty of other outdoor heating options that don’t involve an open flame if you want safe, immediate heat. Gas braziers and the new generation of electric infrared heaters are other options you might want to consider.

An outdoor area with natural wood tones

Plants, natural wood tones, and soft furnishings and textured walls add warmth at any time of the year.

Back wall painted in Resene Aspiring with paint effect in Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Moon Mist, right wall, breeze blocks and vase in Resene Moon Mist, bench seat in Resene Aspiring, table and large plant pot are Resene Teak, tray in Resene Flax, small plant pot in Resene Siam and deck in Resene Woodsman Uluru. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Wendy Fenwick, cushions from Allium Interiors and Shut the Front Door.

An outdoor area with an upcycled ottoman

An old car tyre is transformed into a talking point after being upcycled into an outdoor ottoman, painted in Resene Double Pravda.

Walls painted in Resene Half Villa White, desk in Resene Woodsman Mid Greywash, side table in Resene Double Pravda, tray in Resene Peace, vase and small pot are Resene Bi Hoki and larger plant pot in Resene Kandinsky. Chair from Johnston Imports, cushion (with painted plus in Resene Kandinsky) from The Warehouse. Image by Bryce Carleton.


Soft furnishings such as cushions, bean bags and throws add an essential layer of comfort and, of course, warmth.

The upholstery on your outdoor furniture will need to be weatherproof unless you’re able and willing to pack it away when not in use, but you can add another layer of comfort with softer plush fabrics that are simpler to store.

Wools, fake fur, chenilles and velvets are especially inviting in the chill, as are deep jewel colours accented with pops of bright contrast. Think dark pinks, blues and greens, with accents in bronze or deep gold.

These all add a ‘winter layer’ to your outdoor space that doesn’t require a full seasonal colour change.

That said you may want to consider freshening up the paintwork on your outdoor furniture for the new season. Use Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel or Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel to recoat it in a new colour.

If your new colour is on the dark side, choose a Resene CoolColour version of your paint to keep the surface cooler once summer returns.

An outdoor area with warm accents

Warm accents help shift the seasons in outdoor spaces. Wall painted in Resene Triple Merino, deck in Resene Woodsman Tiri, screen frame in Resene Bounty with the rest in Resene Big Stone, large ombre plant pot in Resene Gull Grey and Resene Balderdash, medium plant pot and pendant lampshade in Resene Alabaster and small plant pot in Resene Bounty. Sofa and table from Outside Space. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.


Protection from the elements is essential to successful outdoor entertaining and activities in winter. A shelter overhead to protect from the rain is one to think about, but side protection from the wind will also make being outdoors more pleasant.

If building a pergola, or drop down wind shelters are beyond your budget, a temporary solution for a special event could be a pull out awning or even a cosy yurt-style tent to keep the elements at bay.

Moveable wooden or fabric screens and planters can also offer great protection from breezes and can be painted or stained any colour to suit your wintry mood, and the rest of your decor.

They can easily be decorated to match your decor and stand up to the conditions. Most Resene testpots are made with Resene Lumbersider, designed to be durable for outdoor use without the need for a clear coat.


Stained wood features using the Resene Woodsman range for outdoors allow you to keep the appealing and comforting features of the natural wood grain, while allowing you to complement your decor colour choices.

For a warmer wood finish for example, instead of a whitewash think about Resene Woodsman Tiri or Resene Woodsman Driftwood to keep things natural. They will also work if you want to switch out your furnishings for brighter shades when summer rolls back around.

It’s tempting to think only dark wall or screen colours will create inviting winter spaces, but lighter shades add a bright, airiness than can be just as appealing as the days get shorter and greyer. You can still bring a layer of warmth into the space with accent furniture or plant pots in warmer tones such as Resene New Denim Blue or Resene Pohutukawa. It’s much simpler and cost-effective to swap out colours on small furnishings and fittings instead of doing a full colour change between seasons!

If you have lighter, summer-toned neutral exterior walls in shades like Resene Alabaster or Resene Emerge, try warm accents such as Resene Permanent Green, Resene Red Berry or Resene Bondi Blue.


One way to make an outdoor area more appealing in colder temperatures is to shrink it in size.

Instead of trying to winter-proof the whole back yard, or even the whole deck, it might be simpler to select a smaller sheltered area that you can divide off from the rest of the garden.

Moveable planters and slatted or solid wooden screens work well here. You can create a new snug part of your yard or deck that’s temporary and set up especially for winter garden reads or entertaining.

It’s easier to go bolder and darker with your colour choices on these smaller, moveable features, which will bring an immediate cosiness to your small space. Try a screen or divider in Resene Blue Night or Resene Indian Ink then hang it with fairy lights to mimic the clear night sky. For desert-themed visual warmth try graduated brick tones in Resene Shabby Chic, Resene Just Dance and Resene Sunbaked.

Making the most of your outdoor spaces all year round is a great way to make your home feel bigger without having to move any walls.

Resene Peace

Resene Woodsman Mid Greywash

Resene Shabby Chic

Resene Just Dance

Resene Sunbaked

Resene Bi Hoki

May 15, 2021

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