However hot our English summer days, as the sun sets the temperature drops and the evenings are chilly. But a simple brazier or fire pit can keep you warm and allow you to stay up long into the night with your friends - such a luxury for Londoners who spend so much of the year locked up inside their offices or homes.
Just style your garden or terrace, no matter how small, with some colourful cushions and pots of flowers and herbs, refill your glasses and light the fire.
Here are ideas on how to extend entertaining outdoors until the autumn, with some extra fire power - from sophisticated sculptural bonfires to basic fire bowls.
Cathy Azria’s mains gas-powered top-of-the-range outdoor fires for B&D Design include sculptural firepits and built-in fireplaces that will even work on a small roof terrace.
Designs to choose from include the Metropolis (from £1,950), inspired by Fritz Lang’s Twenties film and resembling a dramatic skyline in flames, while the Loop is a sculpture in a big bowl. Highgate Planes is made from tapering steel plates stacked in geometric planes (£3,000).
The Fire Pit is designed to look like a traditional bonfire but made of steel sticks instead of wood (£2,100). Prices include installation but not connection to the mains gas. Each is made to commission. Call B&D Design on 020 8964 5355, or visit bd-designs.co.uk.
Wood makes the grade
Encompass has several woodburning alternatives, including the Nero, designed by Sebastian David Buscher for Conmoto. Made of stainless steel it is weather-resistant and costs £3,022.
The minimal-looking Cementum range, which also includes benches, planters, parasol bases and low tables, is made in cement resin so is relatively light and durable and can be used all year round. Prices start at £1,067.
The Fera stainless steel firepit, also designed by Buscher, is fine for year-round outdoor use, too, and makes a great focal point in the garden. Suitable for logs or coal, it costs £414. Call Encompass on 02392 412145.
Multipurpose with panache
The flexible, multipurpose Mosaic Firepit from M&S (right) doubles as a barbecue and coffee table. The granite mosaic design is set into a metal frame and comes with a grille for barbecue use, a domed guard for the fire and a mosaic lid for use as a coffee table. Suitable for all weathers, it costs £159.
The M&S flatpack firebox is the best budget choice at £15. It is made of powder-coated steel with an inner lining to catch the ashes. It has stay-cool handles and folds flat to fit easily inside a small bag for picnics. Call 0845 302 1234, or visit marksandspencer.com.
Easy on the pocket
The iron brazier from Cox & Cox at £88 is simple, solid and substantial while their galvanised metal bucket barbecue with a wooden handle is perfect for picnics and is now reduced from £16 to £12.80.
The Urban Garden has a selection of smart, mid-priced braziers, including the Hampstead Garden brazier, which doubles as a barbecue, for £94, and the Cadiz brazier, for £115, both made of stainless steel with a chrome grill and a domed guard.
For a more rustic look, B&Q has a range of affordable chimeneas, from the Santiago clay chimenea, for £39.98, to the Squat cast-iron stove, for only £44.98.
For more details, visit:
* B&Q at diy.com
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