Our favorite outdoor fireplace ideas will ensure that you can enjoy your backyard all-year long. Here's why you should consider one for your garden...
Setting up an enclosed seating area around an outdoor fireplace is a tried-and-tested way of adding the cozy factor to your backyard ideas. As well as warmth, fireplace ideas will add extra light and can be used for seasonal treats, such as toasting marshmallows or warming mulled cider.
Offering the comfort and ease of an indoor living space with the buzz of cooking in the open air, incorporating outdoor kitchen ideas into your outdoor living room ideas in the form of an outdoor fireplace design will upgrade your al fresco eating experience.
It might seem ambitious, but with the heat of outdoor fireplace, and possibly a covered pergola, you can enjoy your garden all year round, even in northern states.
Outdoor fireplace ideas
1. Opt for a outdoor fireplace firepit combination
Fire pits are a very popular choice for outdoor fireplace ideas that create atmosphere, but this one by Terrain (opens in new tab) is somewhere between the two. They require more maintenance, as you have to source the wood then continually tend to the fire to keep it going, and clean it out afterwards. However, fire pits and chimineas are a firm favorite – ultimately people love the nostalgia and ambiance of sitting by a real fire.
A fire pit or chiminea may sometimes be trickier to ignite than other heating options, especially on a windy day. Also, you’ll have less control over the level of heat than you would with something you can easily turn down or put on a specific temperature setting. But for many, the look and feel of a wood fire makes the trade-offs worth it.
2. Combine an outdoor fireplace with a grill station
'No backyard is complete without space for a grill, so if you're planning an outdoor fireplace, why not combine it with an outdoor grilling station? We love this example – with built-in seating, space for log storage and backyard lighting, it's very practical,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief.
'But it's the architecture of the structure and planting around it that really catch the eye, making it a wonderful focal point at the end of even the smallest of backyards.'
3. Embrace indoor-outdoor living
If you aren’t tied by budget constraints – and want embrace the enviable indoor-outdoor living of the sunniest climates – then an outdoor fireplace suspended on a pivoting hearth is the way to go. If you're wondering 'how do I add luxury to my backyard?' then this is a perfect way.
Perfect for wide open spaces, preferably with panoramic views of the coastline, this outdoor fireplace really is a status symbol that will last for years to come. So take inspiration from these garden bar ideas and prepare to be the host with the most.
4. Keep it cozy with intimate seating
Created by award winning garden designer Mike Harvey (opens in new tab) for the Hampton Court Flower show, this stunning outdoor fireplace design takes center stage. Offering a bright and bold color surround, this stone fireplace creates a permanent place to stoke up and watch a fire in the garden. For the ultimate outdoor room, large lounging armchairs positioned next to the fire are the perfect place to kick back and relax outdoors.
5. Invest in a built-in fireplace
Don’t let the sunset send you indoors. Turn up the heat with a wall fire, set at seating height for optimum use. Take inspiration from outdoor living room ideas and add cozy outdoor furniture, like in the picture above. This will allow you to use your garden for longer, as well as creating a striking focal point.
If you need to create shade, a simple timber pergola will provide shade in summer, but won’t take away light in winter. Alternatively, look for a clever roof system with louvres similar to those on plantation shutters, which can be opened and closed to filter light or shut completely to protect you from the harsher elements.
6. Warm up a winter garden
Outdoor fireplace ideas mean you don’t have to shut the door on your outside space once the flowers stop blooming and cold weather sets in. Invest in a fireplace and you’ve got winter outdoor living nailed.
Just add tactile cushions, soft throws and glowing lanterns to make your deck or patio a place for family pow-wows and parties all year-round
7. Install a fireplace in a garden 'room'
Building an extra room with a view of the garden is now a growing trend. With the current vogue for open-plan, multi-purpose family rooms that combine a mix of kitchen, dining and living spaces, garden rooms fit the bill perfectly, especially if they feature any outdoor fireplace design ideas.
When planning a garden room, think carefully about how you’d like to use the space. If you plan to entertain, or simply revel in your garden after sundown, then an outdoor fireplace could be the answer to those chilly evenings.
If you are building your garden room from new, have your builder section off a small area designed for log burning. If you are after a more modern aesthetic, paint the surrounding wall in a bold color.
8. Fix an outdoor fireplace into the backyard wall
If floor space is at a premium and you are looking for small backyard ideas, a built-in wall fire is the ultimate outdoor fireplace option. Position it close to your seating area to benefit from its warmth and alluring embers all evening.
Introducing a chimney wall and mantel will bring a real sense of an outdoor living room to a backyard and this one also adds color and a place to display decorative pieces.
Fairly easy to construct with rendered block work, it offers a permanent and sheltered fireside experience, and can be repainted when you want an update. It also provides an additional warm as the surface is heated by the fire, radiating outwards to create a cozy corner.
9. Make your outdoor fireplace a dramatic backdrop
There's no reason for your outdoor fireplace to take center stage. It could, just as it might indoors, be a wonderful way to set a scene for the real focal point: an outdoor dining space.
'This fireplace has been dressed just as it might be indoors, with a pair of lamps and lots of candles, demonstrating that even unlit, an outdoor fireplace can be a dramatic architecture addition to your backyard,' says Lucy Searle.
10. Set up a dedicated area for evening entertaining
A cozy corner featuring an outdoor fireplace design is the perfect place to enjoy a beverage after hours. This cement tabletop incorporates a log-burning fire – but you could easily have one fitted with a hidden gas canister if your region doesn't allow for wood burning.
11. Make your outdoor hearth as comfortable as indoors
'If you are going to take the trouble to introduce a backyard fireplace, it really is worth investing as much effort into the decor and furnishings, creating a space that's as beautifully adorned as a living room might be, and as comfortable as possible. This may mean you have to cover the seating space with pergola roof ideas to protect you from either rain or, hopefully, sunshine,' says Jennifer Ebert, Deputy Editor (Digital), Homes & Gardens.
12. Introduce a brazier for summer
Don’t want to commit to a permanent fixture? A portable fireplace – or brazier – has the advantage of being easy to move.
Opt for one that is light, or, even better, on rollers with a brake for fixing in position, so it can be quickly repositioned wherever you want. What's more, this one from Focus (opens in new tab) – the market-leaders in fireplaces – features a removable grill for a spot of fuss-free dining once the sun goes down.
As with all outdoor fireplace ideas, do pay close attention to where portable fireplaces are placed, making sure they aren't on flammable surfaces.
13. Create a cozy campfire setting
The cozy garden equivalent of a campfire, outdoor fireplaces are increasingly popular in outdoor dining ideas for those who wish to prolong their al fresco evenings. Many garden designers are being asked to include them in hang-out zones for families with teenagers.
There are lots of options for adding heat, from bespoke fireplaces and contemporary fire tables fuelled by bioethanol and LPG, to more traditional wood-burning fire pit ideas and bowls.
What type of outdoor fireplace is best?
The latest tech makes it easy to create a relaxed vibe in your backyard. At the flick of a switch you can have lights, music and a fire to set the scene. ‘With the trend for making outdoor spaces an extension of the home showing no sign of slowing down, we expect to see even more demand for creative heating and lighting solutions this summer,’ says Kettler (opens in new tab) MD Paul Bevington.
In terms of materials, stainless steel is easy to clean and rain and rust-resistant, but can be expensive, so factor this in to your total outdoor kitchen cost. Steel is less expensive but more prone to rusting, unless it’s powder-coated or covered in an anti-corrosion paint.
Corten steel is an excellent option – otherwise know as weathering steel, it forms a stable, rusted orange appearance over time and looks beautiful when contrasted with a wall in dark gray or navy. Stone and cast iron are robust but hefty to move, so it’s worth investing in a protective cover if you leave it out all year.
Are outdoor fireplaces worth it?
We asked the H&G team if an outdoor fireplace was worth it, and we were met with a resounding 'yes'. The best outdoor fireplace ideas will allow you to use an external space for longer into the evening, and create a fabulous focal point.
Go all-out with a built-in fireplace complete with hearth, or choose a simple and inexpensive off-the-shelf fire pit, gel fire or a fire fuelled by bioethanol.
Not only do the latest designs a touch of contemporary flair to your backyard, they're a real design feature – and can be adapted to suit any space, no matter your style.
Are outdoor fireplaces safe?
It is imperative that you check your local government sites for codes and laws regarding burning wood in your region.
You can also take a look at regulations.gov or the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Burn Wise site (opens in new tab) for updated information on burn laws.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.