Don’t let the heat keep you inside: Tips for making your outdoor space comfortable

(ARA) – Relaxing on the patio, lounging by the pool, playing in the backyard with the kids – for all our anticipation of warm weather fun, summer heat can put a damper on outdoor activities. When extreme heat forces us back inside where air conditioning keeps everything cool and comfortable, it can be a challenge to remember what we love about the warmer months.

“Extremely hot weather can make it difficult – but not impossible – to enjoy your outdoor living spaces,” says Rick Kelly, an outdoor cooling expert with KuulAire, makers of portable evaporative coolers. “Fortunately, some inexpensive outdoor updates can help you enjoy your patio, deck or garden even on the hottest dog days of summer.”

Here are some tips to help keep your outdoor living spaces cool and comfortable throughout the summer:

Your interior decor is designed to make the inside of your home an inviting space, with a controlled temperature and comfortable furnishings. You can create the same effect in your outdoor living space.

Replace hard plastic resin furniture or iron pieces that become griddle-like in the heat with furnishings that echo the comfort and beauty of your indoor furniture. Elevate the luxurious feeling of your outdoor furniture by adding plush cushions, floor coverings and accent lighting. Draping your patio or deck with light, sheer fabric evokes the feeling of curtains and helps keep insects away.

When scorching days drive you inside, you savor the cool comfort of air conditioning. You can air-condition your backyard, patio or deck, too – with a portable evaporative cooler. KuulAire offers two models, the KA77 and KA55, which are both rated for outdoor use. The units can significantly lower the temperature in 150 to 600 square feet of outdoor living space – and use less electricity than it takes to run a typical hair dryer. Wheels and casters make it easy to move the units to where you need them most.

Don’t overlook how outdoor decor can help elevate the comfort quotient of a patio or deck. Decorative citronella candles smell and look great, and serve a practical purpose by helping keep bugs away. A tabletop fountain adds a merry sound to your outdoor environment, enhancing the feeling of relaxation. Choose colors and patterns that echo the design elements you most love about your interior design.

Cooking is another important element of summer fun and many summer foods are comforting. When temperatures soar, who wants to slave over a hot grill? Replace traditional barbecue foods that require grilling with no-cook options like fruits and vegetables. Consider preparing naturally cooling foods, like smoothies and cucumber salad. Invest in coolers or portable refrigerators if you’ll be storing food outside. If you simply must grill, be sure to keep it away from furnishings, flammable materials and perishable foods.

“With gas prices high and the economy still recovering, many of us will probably stay home again this summer, rather than invest in costly summer vacations,” Kelly says. “It’s often less expensive and more satisfying to improve outdoor spaces with upgrades that will last the whole summer, than to spend a lot on a few days of travel.”