There are so many other ways to enjoy your home’s outdoor space into the colder months ahead. Here are just a few ideas we’ve seen our clients create and enjoy – year round.

At James River Construction (JRC)

When the weather in Richmond turns from hot to warm to cool, your outdoor adventures are just beginning. While it is probably too chilly for a dip in the pool (for most people) there are so many other ways to enjoy your home’s outdoor space into the colder months ahead. Here are just a few ideas we’ve seen our clients create and enjoy – year round.


This dreamy, sunken fire pit creates a cozy and intimate atmosphere, but with loads of built-in seating.

A built-in, open-air fire pit is a beautiful and practical way to extend your yard’s usability. Long, low seating is key to fit in plenty of people and to be at about the same height as the flames, making it easier to roast marshmallows or just gaze into a festive bonfire.

This fire pit uses propane as its heat source, a convenient alternative to burning wood.

Slate, stone, concrete and brick are common materials for outdoor fire pit surrounds. You’ll also need to decide whether you’d like a wood burning fire pit, or one fueled by propane. Some people love the crackle and experience of a wood fire, while others prefer the convenience of propane.

An outdoor fire pit is a great place to enjoy with every member of the family!

Consider how large a fire you want to create – the larger the seating area, the larger the fire pit itself should be to ensure enough heat is created for everyone. Take time to consider where to place the fire pit – away from trees, siding or other flammable materials, but also in an area of the yard that flows nicely with other outdoor living spaces, to ensure it’s seen and used often.

In this home, the fireplace overlooks an elegant pool, helping combine the two gathering areas functionally and visually.


You barely remember you’re outside in this client’s covered living space.

If you don’t have space for a fire pit, or it’s just not your style, you might consider adding an outdoor fireplace to your covered deck or patio. An outdoor fireplace allows you to enjoy a cool fall evening from the comfort of your patio or porch. Because the flames are more contained than a fire pit, you don’t have to worry about it being too close to the house, so you can truly make the indoors flow to the outdoor area.

Who needs the indoors when you’ve got a gas fireplace, a cozy couch and a TV?

Again, outdoor fireplaces can be either wood burning or propane, but if you go the wood burning route, you will need to make sure there is space to build out a chimney. In either case, a wide hearth is an excellent place for extra firewood, candles, or even additional seating. Adding a mantle can make a space feel like a true living room in the great outdoors. Hang an outdoor TV above it and you may never go inside again!


Adding a spa to your outdoor space is a great way to enjoy it year-round. If you have a pool or are planning to have one put in, there are various ways to include a connected or adjacent spa.

This client had their pool contractor and landscape architect add a sizable spa to the design, making it a true oasis.

If you’re looking at a stand-alone spa, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid, level place for it that is rated to bear the weight of it once it’s filled with water. A concrete patio works well, and so can a deck, as long as it was built to withstand the weight of the tub and the amount of people you expect to be in it on a regular basis. A licensed contractor will be able to calculate and design a deck around the weight you plan to put on it. 

If you want to be able to use it during any type of weather, a covered or screened in porch may be the perfect place. Just make sure there is plenty of ventilation for steam and moisture to escape. 


Having a functional kitchen area outside will also help encourage you to make the most of your yard through every season. The key is to make sure the kitchen is located in a place that is convenient to the house, dining or lounging area. If it’s out of sight, it will likely be out of mind.

This extensive outdoor kitchen set up is located right off the home’s covered porch, a main living area for the family, ensuring it’s used as much as possible.

Putting your outdoor kitchen on a covered patio makes it more likely that you’ll use it regardless of the weather conditions. But keep in mind that if you’re building an outdoor kitchen on a covered patio, you’ll need to plan for proper ventilation above your cooking surfaces. You’ll also want to make sure that the design takes into account the cooking areas being close to the sides of the house or deck. A good stone or metal backsplash can solve this problem.

This stone wall protects the house from the heat of the grill. An industrial hood ensures proper ventilation.

There are many ways to extend the life of your outdoor space into the fall and winter. The key is to find the solution that makes the most sense for your family and lifestyle and that will encourage you to get outside and enjoy every season.