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 a fire pit, long-burning brazier or chiminea is a tried-and-tested way of upping the cozy factor. As well as warmth, the fire 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, an outdoor fireplace or fire pit will upgrade your al fresco eating experience. It might seem ambitious given the weather in more blustery parts of the US but, with the heat of a fire pit, and possibly a gazebo or awning, you can enjoy your garden well into fall.
See: Outdoor kitchen ideas – create a food prep station in your backyard
Read on to see our pick of the best outdoor fireplace ideas to get your backyard or patio in pristine shape before summer arrives.
1. Opt for a modern take on a traditional fire pit
Fire pits are a very popular choice for creating atmosphere. It requires more maintenance - as you have to source the wood then continually tend to the fire to keep it going and clean out shed 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 your 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. For many, the look and feel of a wood fire makes the trade-offs worth it.
2. Embrace indoor-outdoor living
If you aren’t tied by budget constraints – and want embrace the enviable indoor-outdoor living of the sunnier US states – then an outdoor fireplace suspended on a pivoting hearth is the way to go. 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. Prepare to be the host with the most.
- See: Garden bar ideas – the best way to entertain al fresco
3. 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 – the market-leaders in fireplaces – features a removable grill for a spot of fuss-free dining once the sun goes down.
Do pay close attention to where portable fireplaces are placed, making sure they aren't on flammable surfaces.
4. Create a cozy campfire setting
The cozy garden equivalent of a campfire, outdoor fireplaces are increasingly popular 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 pits and bowls.
- See: Outdoor dining ideas – for dining outdoors year round
5. Keep it cozy with intimate seating
Stay warm well into the evening with a fire pit, chiminea – or both! Creating the perfect hang-out to ensure the party keeps going well after sundown, this elegant design is the perfect balance between practical and the aesthetic. The only problem you'll have is getting your guests to leave before sunrise.
6. 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. An outdoor furniture, like the one pictured above, 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.
- See: How to plan an outdoor kitchen – what you’ll need for the perfect space
7. Warm up a winter garden
Don’t shut the door on your outside space once the flowers stop blooming and cold weather sets in. Invest in a fire pit 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
8. 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 an outdoor fireplace.
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 of a small area designed for log burning. If you are after a more modern aesthetic – paint the surrounding wall in a bold color.
9. Fix it to the wall
Is floor space at a premium in your small backyard? The ultimate option is a built-in wall fire, set at seating height for maximum effect. Position a wall fire close to your seating area to benefit from its warmth and alluring embers all evening.
It is worth noting that the flue outlet must also be connected to a chimney stack with a cowl.
10. Set up a dedicated area for evening entertaining
This cozy corner 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.
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 MD Paul Bevington.
In terms of materials, stainless steel is easy to clean and rain and rust-resistant, but can be expensive. 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 grey 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'. An outdoor fire allows you to use an external space for longer into the evening and creates 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 for updated information on burn laws.
Walk-in closet ideas – 17 designer looks for dressing areas
More than simply a smart storage solution, walk-in closets are rising fast on dream home wish lists
By Kerryn Harper-Cuss •
Saltbox house style – the ultimate guide
Everything you need to know about saltbox house style, and how to make yours your own
By Timothy Latterner •