For thousands of years, people have gathered in a circle around an open campfire or bonfire. Cooking over the flames, talking, singing, maybe even dancing. It is an intimate bonding experience everyone enjoys in a group. Or with only two people, it tops the charts for romantic potential.
As we notice a chill in the air in the evenings, our thoughts begin to turn toward enjoying our outdoor spaces and relaxing with friends and family under the stars, too. There is no better outdoor entertaining plan than creating a cozy gathering spot around a glowing patio or deck fire pit or outdoor fireplace.
Cares and worries drift away for the evening while loved ones talk, laughing and roasting hot dogs over the roaring flames. Keep the fun rolling by roasting marshmallows and making s’mores together for dessert. Serve them with your favorite coffee and hot cocoa.
Cherished memories are worth the investment. For some of us, our outdoor fireplace or fire pit may be the closest thing we get to vacation all year. Having a pool and fire pit makes for the perfect year-round staycation.
This is why fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are the most requested design feature for homes today according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. And that was before COVID-19 had us all looking for more fun things to do at home.
A Backyard Fire Pit on a Wood Deck or Patio
A backyard fire pit is a dream come true for adults and kids, alike. Not only does fire provide an enchanting means of outdoor heating, but the fire pit area can be a beautiful focal point for conversation and a favorite entertainment spot.
Options for a modern outdoor fire pit.
A brick fire pit, natural stone fire pit, flagstone fire pit, or paver fire pit can make a beautiful addition to your deck or patio. These are custom-built fire pits, or you can use a kit. These are permanent structures.
For something less permanent, try a metal fire bowl. Fire bowls can be made of copper or stainless steel. Or you can have a cement fire pit. A large one works for the deck, patio, or pool area. A small one fits neatly in the center of our outdoor dining table.
Another option is a smokeless fire pit. One of the problems with fire pits is that everyone’s clothing and hair can end up smelling like smoke. You can avoid that with a smokeless fire pit or smokeless wood fire pit insert. With a wood-burning smokeless fire pit, air flows through a filter so the smoke stays to a minimum for you and your guests.
A Chiminea fire pit looks like a round or rectangular fireplace or stove with a little chimney on top to direct the smoke away from those nearby. Chimineas come in a variety of materials like clay, steel, copper, or cast iron. They are generally portable and sit on top of a metal stand.
A fire pit swing is a great rustic fire pit idea for your backyard. Surround your fire pit with three to five bench swings for a cozy, intimate outdoor living space. If you create a square, hexagonal, or octagonal frame for the swings, it also makes a perfect area to hang decorative solar lights (string lights or lanterns) for a festive atmosphere.
There are also some unique fire pit ideas for the more daring. A modern pool fire pit with glass rocks looks stunning near a crystal clear inground pool and waterfall feature. A Star Wars fire pit may be a great fit for die-hard Star Wars fans.
For the more reserved, consider a fire pit table or a bar height fire pit table. You will get enough fire for atmosphere and a bit of warmth. But the fire is a lot smaller than a traditional fire pit.
An indoor fire pit is also an option for use on evenings with inclement weather. A fire table with gas fire can be a stunning centerpiece to your living space. Or you could have a large custom circular indoor bowl with a chimney.
Types of Fire Pits
There are three main types of fire pit fuel sources. Each one has its pros and cons.
Gas fire pits
Natural gas instantly lights. It burns cleaner than propane and has less soot. It also tends to be safer and doesn’t create smoke. But it doesn’t create as much heat as a wood fire and it requires a gas line so a gas fire pit is not portable.
Propane fire pit/portable propane fire pit
Propane is convenient and doesn’t produce smoke. It comes in small tanks, so propane fire pits can be portable. Since the tanks are small, they run out and have to be refilled frequently.
Wood fire pit
A wood-burning fire boasts the most heat production. It can even be used as an outdoor grill. But seasoned hardwood is costly and can be difficult to store. A wood fire can also throw sparks and create a lot of smoke.
Best wood for a fire pit
Hardwoods, like oak, create less smoke, burn longer, and burn hotter than other woods. Some other hardwoods that make good firewood include hickory, fruit trees, birch, and hickory. Use seasoned wood, not freshly cut wood, for the best fires. It has less water content.
Just a reminder, check your local regulations and restrictions before building a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. And never burn a fire when there is a no-burn warning in place in your area.
Fire Pit Rocks
Fire pit glass/fire pit glass rocks/fire pit glass beads - for natural gas fire, tempered glass, adds a reflective surface and beautiful color. It helps the fire disperse heat more evenly and keeps the area warmer.
Lava rocks for a fire pit look very rustic and charming. A pea gravel fire pit is another option for the type of rocks you could use. It’s best to put sand at the bottom of your fire pit as a base layer below the rocks.
A Modern Outdoor Fireplace on a Screened-in Porch or Patio
An outdoor fireplace with a TV or custom fire pit is a stunning focal point for your outdoor living space. Consider building an outdoor fireplace on a screened porch, on a patio, or a deck. The area may be covered with a roof or a beautiful pergola, or you may opt for no roof at all in your deck or patio design.
With a fireplace, you have a bit more control over the fire than you might with a fire pit. There is only one open side, generally, unless you build a double-sided fireplace that is indoor/outdoor. But even then, you have control with glass doors or fireplace screens.
Best Outdoor Fireplace Ideas
Some of our favorite outdoor fireplace ideas include custom outdoor brick fireplaces. With a masonry fireplace, you can match the brickwork of your home and have a solid, sturdy fireplace, that is built to last forever.
An outdoor stone fireplace is particularly romantic and rustic. It would fit in nicely on your back porch, deck, or patio regardless of whether your home has siding, brick, or stucco. Or you could build a standalone fireplace in the backyard with only stones or with stone and brick.
We also love an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace. The fireplace provides a glorious gathering spot for friends and family while the chef prepares an incredible meal outside. Or even better, an outdoor fireplace with a pizza oven will make your house the gathering place for the neighborhood.
Another option that is not as permanent is a chiminea outdoor fireplace. Most of these fireplaces are portable and can be used anywhere in your backyard.
Types of Outdoor Fireplaces
There are three main types of outdoor fireplaces fuel sources:
Outdoor electric fireplaces
These are the easiest to use. Just plug them in and make sure it is outdoor rated. It can radiate heat but the flames are not real.
Outdoor wood-burning fireplaces
Wood-burning fireplaces provide a lot of heat and flames and the amazing scent of wood.
Outdoor gas fireplaces
For those with allergies to wood smoke or who don’t want to deal with the clean-up involved with wood fires, this is a great option.
Ready to Design the Fire Pit Area or Outdoor Fireplace of Your Dreams?
We’re ready to help you build your new dream home here in the Greater Columbia, SC area, complete with a glorious outdoor living space you can enjoy year-round.
Please contact us today to get started!
We are a custom builder in areas like:
Lexington, Irmo, Ballentine, Chapin, Columbia, Blythewood, West Columbia, Forest Acres, Pinewood, the Lake Murray area, and more.
by Bob Vila
Fire Pit Safety by HGTV
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