Falling for Fall

September 28, 2012
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By Michele J. Kuhn


Fire pits, lanterns, throws and wraps help extend the outdoor season



The cooler temperatures, changing color of leaves and earlier nightfall doesn’t have to mean the end to outdoor living.

“People are coming off the beach and are using their patios more now than for just grilling,” said Donna Bain, owner of Bain’s Outdoor Living at 125 East River Road, Rumson.

“It’s a time to look at your home’s exterior,” she said. “We find spring and fall are the times to enhance your property.”

Customers come into Bain’s shop nowadays and are looking at such items as birdhouses, weathervanes and lanterns and soft items like cushions and pillows.

Bain sees the economic downturn four years ago as something that sparked people’s interest in using their outdoor space more consistently and for a longer time period.

“In 2008 people realized that they owned this great home and saw it as a great place to entertain. They could ask people over for a glass of wine on the patio or start an evening out, finish it or start and finish it on their patio,” she said.

And, if the coming seasons are anything like last year’s with considerably warmer temperatures and a dearth of snow (except in October!), this could be another banner year for outdoor living well into the fall and even through the winter months.

One thing that can help extend the outdoor season is a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. There are a variety of types of fire elements for yards, including those that burn logs, natural gas or propane. Some outlets sell chimineas. The wood-burning open-sided chimneys, originally from Mexico, can now be found in a variety of materials including clay, cast iron and cast aluminum.

“It’s ambiance. People like to sit around a fire and have a glass of wine or make s’mores with the kids,” Bain said. “It’s like having a campfire without having to be in the woods.”

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Bain’s is selling two round, wood-burning models: One with an open design featuring a brightly polished copper apron and half sphere-shaped fire screen for $369; the other a copper bowl-shaped pit with screen for $349. Both are made by Walpole.

Special lighting can also help create a mood conducive to spending time in a backyard during fall and winter. Lanterns are popular this fall, either lit by wax candles or by battery-operated candles. Bain’s is selling the battery candles – complete with a remote control for ease of lighting – that feel and even smell like the wax variety, in three sizes. Made by Spruce Garden and Home, they sell for $18.75, $20 and $25.

Bain’s has classic lanterns in a variety of finishes and sizes. One of the most popular types is made by Riado in stainless steel that can withstand the elements without damaging the finish. It comes in sizes from a small, tabletop model with a tealight candle ($13.95), to the largest size ($240). The most popular model is the 16-inch lantern ($60), which comes with a pillar candle.

Bain’s also stocks a variety of accessories to increase comfort and help enhance the outdoor experience. Pillows of natural fiber fabrics (about $42), toasty throws (about $75) for outdoor furniture and ViVi Designs woven, patterned scarves ($20) and soft, knitted wraps ($38) in rich, deep colors to wear while lounging on patio furniture are some of the items that help extend the use of outdoor space.


Fire Pits and Outdoor Fire Safety


Outdoor fire pits have become all the rage in the last few years. A fire pit is perfect for roasting marshmallows in the backyard, warming up a cool evening on the patio or adding a decorative touch to your outdoor living room.

For all their coziness, however, a fire pit’s main ingredient is fire – and it must be handled with care. In a recent study by Under­writers Laboratories (UL), many parents reported that they consider fire pits, candles and tiki torches to be the most hazardous outdoor items, but they don’t make safety a top priority in outdoor living.

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Here are some tips to avoid the dangers of outdoor fire.

Don’t Play with Fire Pits!

Fire pits are generally open; some models are nothing more than metal bowls filled with charcoal or wood. Fancier models burn natural or propane gas and come with cooking grills and other accessories. No matter which model you go for, be sure the whole family knows these fire pit safety rules before you light the first flame:

Position it Safely. Place or build your fire pit at least 10 feet from structures and flammable items.

Put it on Solid Ground. Place a fire pit on a solid surface and in an open area, avoiding overhanging trees or rooflines.

Keep an Extinguisher Handy. Always keep a fire extinguisher near your fire pit and know how to use it correctly.

Man the flame. Never leave any fire unattended, especially if children are nearby.

Stay 3 feet from the heat. Establish a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around your fire pit. Teach your children and their friends the rule and always watch children who are near a fire.

Avoid the Lighter Fluid. The National Fire Protection Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission say pourable gel fuel can cause flash fires and burns when added to an already burning fire pit. Both organizations warn against using gel fuel.

Cool it. Throwing water in a fire pit may not be enough to extinguish the flame completely. To be safe, let coals cool and gently pour water over them. Make sure the embers are completely extinguished before going indoors.

Source: UL at www.safetyathome.com


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