It is that time of year when we realize how grateful we are to live in a California climate. With this climate, we can have the fun of sending selfies of ourselves lunching in outdoor cafés to all of our friends trapped in a winter blizzard. Retail developers have capitalized on Californian’s love of outdoor spaces, adding outdoor amenities to increase customer dwell-time and ultimately sales. The enclosed mall of the past has transformed into main street streets and stores clustered around outdoor spaces.
During the holidays, especially well-designed outdoor spaces are a big draw. So, I started thinking about some of the elements that add to my enjoyment of outdoor spaces during winter.
My top ten favorite outdoor features:
1. Wind protected, heated outdoor dining terraces: These create cozy spaces, perfect for catching up with friends and people watching on these brisk days and cool evenings.
2. Outdoor lounge areas with fire pits: Who does not love to watch the fire dance while sipping a glass of wine or a hot cocoa. The dancing flames set a beautiful tone for the space.
3. Strings of Tivoli lights stretched over pedestrian paseos and twinkle lights in the trees : The one great thing about the shorter days are all the wonderful lighting effects. Strings of light are an excellent way to create spaces and guide pedestrians on their evening walks.
4. Light Art: Another added benefit of sunset at an early hour is being able to view the cool glow-in-the-dark paving stones and light shows. I am discovering more of this artwork in spaces previously only visited during the day.
5. Music: New outdoor speaker systems let me feel like I am staring in my own movie as I window shop.
6. Citrus trees in pots: Wonderful colorful and fragrant orange, lemon and tangerine trees are providing a winter display.
7. Our evergreen plant palette: While in other parts of the country all the trees and shrubs have lost their leaves for the winter, we enjoy a blooming landscape (Camellias are some of my favorite winter bloomers).
8. Space transformations: With proper design and some event planning, outdoor spaces transform into theaters, seasonal ice-skating rinks, art galleries, farmers’ markets and craft faires.
9. Heated Bench: Galanter & Jones make a luxurious, heated contoured bench that allows me to stay outside a bit longer than I might otherwise. Think how great that heated car seat feels on your back; warm and toasty, even on a cold night.
10. Street vendors: Some sell roasted chestnuts which offer a sweet aroma, a most welcome addition to any winter outdoor room. Other vendors sell personalized, hand-made gifts, cutting down on the amount of shopping trips.
What are yours?
Written by Linda Gates, Co-Founder