13 Cozy Winter Patio Ideas

Winter patio

You know what they say: winter is coming. And if you love being outdoors on your patio, one thing that can be a bit annoying is that when winter hits, you can’t be as outdoorsy as you usually are. Let’s change that. It’s time to get your hands dirty and create a cozy winter patio for your home.

Whether your patio needs a total makeover or just a few decorating ideas, we have you covered. In this article, we will give you 13 ideas to help improve your home decor when it gets colder. 

Create a space to gather loved ones

The colder months can be a great time to get together with friends and family and enjoy a glass of wine or hot apple cider on your patio. But if your patio isn’t prepared to protect you from the cold, outdoor gatherings can sour like the milk in your hot chocolate. 

Here are a few ways you can bring cozy warmth to an outdoor patio perfect for eating sweets and making memories:  

1. Create a comfy outdoor seating area

The first step is creating an outdoor living space where you can huddle with your loved ones after a chilly day. Choose a casual or modern outdoor sofa where you can share the warmth, or give everyone their own comfy armchairs. Just remember the furniture needs to be waterproof.

Need a place to store extra cozy throw blankets and pillows? A cushioned bench with built-in storage space is an excellent option, and it’s great for storing kid toys and pet toys, too.  

Pro Tip: Top off your seating area with a coffee or side table so people can set down their tea or hot chocolates.

2. Install a fire pit 

fire pit
Tom Swinnen | Pexels

A crackling fire pit is an excellent way to bring people together in a cozy setting, even in the cold weather. The warm flickering flakes create the perfect campfire atmosphere for socializing and sharing stories. 

When planning your winter patio, here are some fire pit tips to keep in mind:

  • Place the fire pit in the middle of your seating area for cooking and roasting marshmallows. 
  • You can find many options at home improvement stores that will fit any budget, whether a small tabletop model or a larger one that will take up more space.
  • Interested in a luxurious fire pit that fits seamlessly into your patio’s design? Consider hiring a hardscaping professional to design and install your fire pit. 

3. Get an outdoor fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace
Media Director | CC BY-ND 2.0

Don’t want smoke to disrupt your evenings outdoors? You might prefer an outdoor fireplace instead of an outdoor fire pit. An outdoor fireplace has a chimney and vents that prevent the smoke from escaping into your home and to your face (unlike fire pits).

If you’re looking for something more permanent, an outdoor fireplace is also a great idea to create a focal point for your patio and incorporate it into your home’s architecture.  

4. Get a propane heater

If you live in an area that doesn’t get too chilly in winter, patio heaters that use propane may be all you need to stay warm outdoors. 

Propane heaters use gas to create heat that radiates outwards toward people sitting nearby. They are also a cheaper and low-maintenance option compared to fire pits or fireplaces. 

If you live in areas with harsh winters, propane heaters might not be for you. Why? Because when temperatures drop too low, the quantity of propane decreases significantly inside the tanks, and so does the pressure within them. That results in reduced efficiency and wasted resources. 

Note: Do not use your propane heater indoors, as propane heaters pose a carbon monoxide hazard. 

5. Install a roof

If you want to keep the sun out of your eyes and the snow off your face, you might want to invest in something to cover your patio and prevent ice from developing. Here are a few ideas:

  • You can choose between different types of roofs, including a translucid one that lets sunlight shine through or an opaque one that lets no light in. 
  • If you prefer to keep it open and airy, consider installing a retractable cover. The best part is that these covers can be opened and closed whenever you want, which makes them perfect for people who want an outside patio they can enjoy all year round.
  • Another option is an aluminum roof. Aluminum roofs are lightweight and easy to install— they’re also very durable and long-lasting. In addition, they won’t rust or corrode like other metals, which means they’ll last longer under harsh circumstances (like high winds or heavy rains).

Warning: Watch out for falling icicles! Ensure that your roof has a passage for water runoff to prevent icicles from forming. 

6. Install a pergola

Randy Fath | Unsplash

A pergola is perfect if you want a more romantic look during winter and a place where you can hang your holiday lights and winter plants such as snapdragon vine, winter jasmine, or honeysuckle.  A pergola will also let in light during the gray winter months and provide shade in the summer. 

There are tons of high-end modern pergolas with automated louvered roofs, in case you want a pergola and shelter for when it snows or rains. Or you can get a waterproof protective cover as a more affordable option.

7. Invest in a cooking area

Outdoor kitchen
Media Director | CC BY-ND 2.0

Everyone loves breathing fresh air outside, under the stars, with friends and family. You can make these nights possible during winter by installing an outdoor kitchen and throwing amazing holiday dinner parties. 

Take your grill out of the garage or get a brand new pizza oven and get your family ready for some sensational pepperoni pizzas. 

Place your outdoor dining table near a heat source so you can enjoy the warmth of the fire while eating. 

Tip: Don’t forget to winterize your outdoor kitchen by shutting off drain water lines and covering up your appliances when not in use. 

8. Get toasty in a personal spa

Outdoor spa covered in snow
Gleb Albovsky | Unsplash

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not invest in your own spa with a hot tub? Imagine how refreshing the hot water would feel against your bare skin in the thick of winter. As fun as it is to stream holiday movies and play video games indoors, it’s always nice to stretch those limbs outdoors. And a hot tub certainly makes getting off the couch that much easier. 

Use your patio space in the best way possible and have a place where you can unwind after a long day at work, or invite your friends for some aromatherapy or water aerobics. You could even top off the patio design with an outdoor sauna. What a dream!

Add character to your patio

There’s no point in investing in outdoor furniture, a roof, or a fireplace if your patio still has that bone-chilling look and doesn’t feel like part of your home. Add elements that match your indoor style, play with different textures, and add other unique touches that will make it stand out and give it a cozy feel. 

Here are a few tips:

9. Get festive with string lights

string lights
Magda Ehlers | Pexels

String lights are easy to install and affordable. They add a beautiful glow and ambiance to your seating area, perfect for those cold winter nights.

If you have a pergola, then it’s easy enough to hang string lights directly on it. All you need is some hooks and wire, available at most hardware stores. If you don’t have a pergola, you can hang the lights in your trees. 

Pro Tip: You’ll want to choose lights that are waterproof and weatherproof, as well as energy efficient. Consider using LED lights instead of regular ones so they don’t overheat if left on all night.

10. Warm things up with blankets 

Vlada Karpovich | Pexels

Whether you have a balcony or a small patio, you can make it feel cozier during winter by adding blankets with different textures to your existing furniture. 

If you’re looking for inspiration for some cozy textures that can warm up any patio furniture this winter, here are some ideas:

  • Woolen blankets are soft, fluffy, and warm but durable enough to last through winter. They insulate well and don’t attract dust mites or mold like other fabrics.
  • Fleece blankets are soft like wool but warmer than cotton and polyester fabrics, so they’ll keep you warm without overheating.
  • Velvety blankets feel smooth like suede but are warmer than suede because they don’t breathe as much as suede (so they won’t let cold air through).
  • Chenille blankets are casual, soft, and warm but don’t have as much insulation as wool. So if you have a fire pit on your patio, this would fit perfectly.

11. Add throw pillows

Pillows are also a great way to keep out the cold and make your patio feel more comfortable. They add a touch of color and comfort to any outdoor space. 

They’re also easy to replace when they get dirty or old—take them inside, throw them in the washer, and bring them back out.

Add pillows to your chairs and couches so that everyone has one they can cuddle up to when it gets chilly. We recommend picking warm shades like red, orange, and terracotta that go with your outdoor decor and furniture; and choosing a pattern that fits in with your interior design. You don’t want anything too busy or loud. 

Don’t be afraid to play with textiles, such as faux fur, wool, or tassels, as long as the fabric feels nice against your skin. 

12. Roll out a comfy rug

comfy rug
wkn | Pexels

A comfy outdoor rug is key to keeping your patio dry and cozy during the winter months (and it doubles as an excellent place for kids to play). It can make the space seem way more inviting, keep your feet warm, and provide a bit of cushioning and style to your patio.

Tip: Consider a weather-resistant rug that you can leave on your patio when there’s light rain or snow. 

13. Grow evergreens

Winter can be a challenging time for the plants surrounding your patio. The perennials have died, the air is getting colder and drier, and the sun isn’t out as much. As a result, your patio can feel a bit gray and lifeless, so why not get some evergreens to brighten things up?

Evergreens keep their leaves through cold weather, adding greenery to your winter patio during those chilly days. You can also hang pine cones around the patio or as a centerpiece to give your outdoor area more life.

Some popular evergreens and cold-weather flowers include:

  • False cypress
  • American arborvitae
  • Boxwood
  • Blue star juniper
  • Holly
  • Dwarf Alberta spruce
  • Blue holly
  • Peonies
  • Daffodils
  • Violas

Are you ready for winter?

Winter is almost here, but you can avoid the Stark family’s fate by getting your patio ready and cozy. The Game of Thrones references won’t aid you in your decorating endeavor, but a local lawn care professional can help you squeeze in one last mow of the season.

Main photo credit: Matheus Bertelli | Pexels

Maria Isabela Reis

Maria Isabela Reis is a writer, psychologist, and plant enthusiast. She is currently doing a PhD in Social Psychology; and can't help but play with every dog she sees walking down the street.