We’re all going to be meeting our family and friends outdoors over the next few months.
So, as we prepare for a winter of garden gatherings once lockdown restrictions are lifted, keeping guests warm will be as much of a priority as providing delicious food.
The hospitality industry says outdoor heater will be vital to its fortunes once bars, pubs and restaurants are allowed to reopen.
Cosy: Drinks around a firepit. Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, keeping guests warm will be as much of a priority as providing delicious food
Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, said that the pubs group had decided to press ahead with a £1.5million investment in heated and covered outside spaces.
Log-burners, freestanding chimineas, fireplaces and firepits have been flying off the shelves.
According to the John Lewis Flexible Living report, sales of outdoor heaters have risen by 331 per cent this year, while firepits are up by 140 per cent.
So, if you want to provide warmth and a great ornamental garden centrepiece this winter, here’s the low-down on heating options and where to find them.
HUDDLE AROUND A FIREPIT
Research by the University of Alabama has shown that watching the flickering flames of a firepit in the garden can lower your blood pressure, helping you relax — something most of us are in need of at the moment.
Firepits are typically cast-iron and sleek in design, with the heat source in a raised bowl. Basic firepits are available from Gardeco for £54.99.
Pay a little more and you can find some far more eye-catching designs. The Industrial Style firepit at Cox & Cox has a slatted basket brazier which comes in two sizes (£150 to £175).
Even better you can get 20 per cent off your first order using a discount code on the website homepage. This type of firepit is for burning wood (not coal) and shouldn’t be used on decking.
For one that could pass as a piece of art, try the Andes square design on a geometric stand or the stainless steel Phoenix Flower Brazier (£320 and £440).
Stainless steel is easy to clean and is rain and rust-resistant, though pricier than steel.
You can burn wood or charcoal in Arpe Studio’s designs, and you can have it personalised with a message engraved into the metalwork.
Budget choice B&Q’s La Hacienda Arlington clay chiminea outdoor burner at £33 (diy.com)
ADD IN A TABLE
For the ultimate in outdoor heating, try a firepit table, where the pit is sunk into the middle of a dining or coffee table.
The fire is gas-powered and behind a fire‑proof screen so no need to tend to the flames.
Moda’s gas firepits are made from marine grade stainless steel and can be converted into tabletop BBQs with the addition of griddles. But you’ll need deep pockets as prices for table and firepit start at £1,395.
Elsewhere, the Bramblecrest Oakridge set offers a square table with ceramic top, firepit, attachable griddle plate and seating, for £3,071.
Freestanding woodburners and chimineas come with a flue to direct the smoke up and away from your guests.
Originating in Mexico in the 1600s, the traditional chiminea design is hand-decorated terracotta, though you can get cast-iron versions.
The Aztec pattern on the Plumas Clay Chiminea by Gardeco (£149.99) makes it a beautiful garden centrepiece. For a budget version, try La Hacienda Arlington Clay Chiminea B&Q for £33.
If you prefer the sleeker look of metal, there are cast-iron versions, such as B&Q’s Hidalgo burner (£199.99) or the Blooma Diogo steel burner (£40).
But bear in mind that clay chimineas do not get as hot to the touch, so are better if you have pets or small children to consider.
Not only will a wood-burner or chiminea keep you warm, they can also be used to cook with.
The Sierra burner from Primrose comes with a chrome grill (£154.99).
If you’D prefer to steer clear of real fire, there are plenty of outdoor heaters ideal for smaller groups.
Some are mains connected, such as the Quartz bulb patio heater (£199.99), which costs less than 10p an hour to run. Ensure you get a weather-proof extension lead.
Other versions run on bottled gas. Moda’s outdoor heater is designed to look like a smart floorlamp and comes in four colours (£475).
OR THE REAL DEAL
A built-in garden wall fire captures the trend of bringing the inside out. You just need a brick wall and to be able to create a flue (a hollow chamber) to allow smoke to pass through.
At fireplace specialist Renaissance London, stone outdoor fireplace surrounds start at £2,000.
Best coffee machines for WFH
Nespresso machines, such as the Essenza (pictured), £89.99 available at John Lewis (johnlewis.com), rely on capsules which are not always eco-friendly
The British did not get the coffee drinking habit until the 17th century. But the craze swiftly took hold.
By 1675, Britain had 3,000 coffee houses, with Samuel Pepys a particular caffeine fan.
If the coffee shop close to your work is one of the things you most miss during lockdown, your home really needs a dedicated coffee machine.
The gadget you choose depends on your budget, and your favourite brew.
The Beko CEP5152B (£80) uses coffee grounds to deliver espressos. Thanks to the milk frother, you can also make cappuccinos and lattes.
Pod machines, such as George Clooney’s favourite Nespresso, rely on capsules, not always eco-friendly.
This brand’s models, available at John Lewis, range from the simple Essenza (pictured, £89.99) to the Creatista (£379).
The Sage bean-to-cup machines, available at Lakeland, will suit those who long to be a barista and can invest from £549.99 to £1,999.
For this you get an integrated grinder and temperature control. The costliest Sage machine works out at £5.47 a day over a year (excluding beans). But remember that, like the others, someone will have to clean it.