Central Oregonians love spending time outdoors, especially during the long days of summer. When those hot summer days turn to cool, dim evenings, there’s no reason to end the enjoyment. Unless, of course, the plan is to huddle under the porch light or start digging around the garage for Christmas lights or an old barbecue to light a fire in. Don’t get caught off guard this summer—with a little preparation when it comes to heat and light, daytime fun can last well into the evening with ease.
Let it burn
Incorporating fire through an outdoor firepit, fireplace or fire table is a great tool for setting the scene and gathering everyone together. Real log firepits can be a fun addition to a spacious backyard, in areas and at times when outdoor burning is allowed. Outdoor fireplaces offer a permanent gathering space that can be surrounded with cozy outdoor couches and chairs for a comfortable outdoor living room setting. Offering lots of versatility, fire tables create an instant fire, are conveniently powered by propane or natural gas and don’t require stoking or cleanup—making them a popular choice in Central Oregon.
Each option offers a focal point for the evening and brings everyone together. “The ambiance of family and friends sitting around a fire—you remember back to when you were a kid sitting around a campfire,” said Scott Holmer, owner at Bend’s Patio World. “This is the modern version of it. You push a button and turn a knob, and you’ve got yourself a fire. It’s not even so much about the heat, but the ambiance.” Holmer said fire tables are popular at his showroom, with varieties with colored tile designs that match outdoor dining areas, all coming together to create a cohesive outdoor living space. With the right fire feature and areas for seating and dining, outside spaces often become a resident’s favorite place to be. “It’s become one of the most desirable places in a home,” Holmer said.
Fire features can be a hit year-round and bring people out of the house on calm nights, according to Becky Shaw, a Bend-based landscape designer for Homeland Design. “The fire feature especially brings you outside of the house and extends the shoulder season of Central Oregon—it’s a gathering place for friends and family and keeps you a little warmer.”
Hit the lights
With high desert sunsets creeping past 9 p.m. in the early summer, natural light keeps our backyard activities going well into the evening. But as darkness starts to set in, an array of lighting choices can keep spaces well-lit. Permanent outdoor lighting woven into the landscape, stairs or along walkways is a great foundation for outdoor brightness, while dim outdoor lanterns, candles and discreet LED lights—including solar powered varieties—can add more sources of lighting.
When the stars come out, it’s time to flip on the brighter lights. Long strings of Edison-style lights can brighten up a patio or be strung from the house and out to a fence to offer a brighter backyard area. Covered areas can be a suitable space to hang bright orb lights or hanging pendant lighting with woven wicker-like lampshades. Be sure to choose outdoor-specific lighting to hold up to the elements and survive an occasional Central Oregon summer rainstorm.
Together, fire and light combine to create attractive and comfortable spaces that keep us outdoors during beautiful Central Oregon summer nights. “Lighting just brings an ambience to the backyard,” Shaw said. “Together the lighting and the fire just make you feel like it’s a place you want to go to.”