Forget the plastic flamingos.This year, make patio furnishings an extension of a loft or condo's stylish interior, and a place where friends and family can be entertained. Downtown has a few worthwhile destinations for putting panache into patios with everything from beach chairs to grills (though for the latter, some rules apply - see below).
A complete patio makeover can be had at Crate and Barrel, 915 Nicollet Mall.
Tired of stuffy chaises and ugly plastic chairs? The Crate and Barrel's classic-looking dockside Adirondack chairs go for $149 and can be ordered in an assortment of colors. Surf Sun Loungers with stainless steal bases and fabric coverings are $69.95. Maui beach chairs with the same features are $29.95.
For something simpler, hammocks with pillows and a stand start at $39.95 and go up to $129. Tie a couple of $12.95 candle stakes - pick bright orange, red or lime - to the fence, and a bland, concrete Downtown patio now has the right beach flavor.
Crate and Barrel also has a huge selection of drinkware, including the aqua-colored Calypso Margarita glasses for $7.95. Each glass is made in Mexico and hand-blown - so it has those really crazy swirls and specks. They also have other Calypso items such as lime green goblets and pitchers - also great for margaritas - for $8.95 and $19.95.
If candles are more of a necessity, head down the street to Marshall Field's, 700 Nicollet Mall, where an assortment of tapers and lanterns can light up any patio. Large pink and white tulip candles -- very much a spring thing - and big coffee cup candles run for $30 each. A larger, two-foot-tall candle costs $140.
Don't be left in the dark about Marshall Field's lantern selection. Smaller candle lanterns with opaque glass and dark steel that resembles wrought iron range between $30 and $40. A very large lantern on its own pedestal looks like a lighthouse and goes for $275. Big copper chimney lanterns made to hang from a ceiling go for $85.
The really classy candle lanterns, called giant pedestals, resemble large wine glasses with sleekness. Giant pedestals with a 21-inch mouth are $80, and ones with a 30-inch mouth are $145.
On the intensive grilling front the Target Store, 900 Nicollet Mall, also has a range of grills and accessories for hardcore patio buffs.
Stainless steel gas grills with motorized rotisserie kits and condiment trays are the most expensive. The Brinkman Gourmet grill runs for $249.99, and the Nexgrill grill runs for $549.99. On the lower end, portable gas grills start at $24.99.
If you want to cook the old-fashioned way, or are just looking for extra flair, fire bowls are also available at Target.
Bronze fire bowls with a protective screening to prevent coals from jumping off the pit are $119. Fire bowls bordered with mosaic tiles are $129.99. Although the round fire bowl remains a traditional favorite, Target also has the adventurous, square-shaped stainless steel fire bowls for $109.99.
Downtown grilling: safety rules and restrictions
As you can imagine, grilling can be riskier in a high-rise building. That's why the Minneapolis Fire Department has specific policies on what can and can't be on a multi-unit residential building balcony.
The following grill types are allowed ONLY if securely mounted to prevent accidental tipping AND if they are not on a balcony made of combustible material (fire-treated or green-treated wood is considered combustible):
- Charcoal grills
- Gas-fired or electric grills that are wired or plumbed to a building system
- Liquefied petroleum (LP) grills with 1-pound disposable tanks. (Note: this size, typically used by small propane torches, is much smaller than the 20-pound cylinders used by typical backyard grills.)
- Liquefied petroleum (LP) fueled grills with cylinders larger than 1 pound, above ground level
- Grills shall have a minimum clearance of 18 inches on all sides.
- Hot ashes and smoldering coals shall not be deposited within 10 feet of other combustible materials, including walls and partitions, or within 2 feet of building openings.
There are no policies on candle or lantern use, though if lanterns use LP, they would be restricted to the 1-pound tank size.
Source: Minneapolis Fire Department, Minnesota State Fire Code Section 305.2, 307.5 and NFPA 58.