Introducing fire into your outdoor living space creates a destination and gathering spot. Whether for heating or shedding light into the dark of night, the attraction of fire is undeniable. Fire features for the landscape come in a variety of forms and price points from the simple fire pit to the elaborate stone fireplace. In recent years, designers and manufacturers have developed elegant and unique lines of stand along fire elements with the benefit that the homeowner can move the fire feature when wanted in other areas. On the other hand, the permanent masonry built fireplaces provide an anchor in the landscape around which an outdoor living space can be developed. Your, needs, desires and budget will determine the right fire feature for your landscape.
Style & Character
Picking the right style and character for your fire feature depends on everything from your preferences and desires to the context of its planned location. Keep in mind that a fire feature is an architectural element in the landscape and should fit with the architectural style of the home. That doesn’t mean that a contemporary fire trough won’t work at an old stone farm house if placed correctly. On the other hand, an old world stone fireplace probably won’t be appropriate for a modernist home. Your choice of materials and design forms will be the biggest contributor to the fire elements character. The scale, the details and the nature of the fire itself will also determine the style of the final product.
The materials you choose for your fire feature plays a key role in determining its final character and cost. A stucco finish with travertine tile banding can be used to create a Tuscan style fireplace (image above) while a natural stone may create a more rustic old world styling (image below). In the Philadelphia region, a combination of brick and stone often reflects a historic design character indicative of the 18th century estates. In the southwest, stucco is probably the most common material as a reflection of traditional building techniques. As a rule of thumb, stucco will be the most economical option and natural stone the most expensive option with brick somewhere between the two.
Elements & Details
What sort of elements and details would you want to include into your outdoor fireplace? Often side walls are an important element to add. They will ground the fireplace in its space so it doesn’t look like a sore thumb plopped in the middle of the gardens. And they provide the opportunity to create wood storage spaces, seating, counter top or even a wood fired pizza oven. They can also help define the seating area and screen unwanted views behind the fireplace area. Will your fireplace have a mantle and what sort of detailing will it include? How about a raised hearth which will raise the firebox a provide seating or a place to rest and warm your feet? Choosing an ornamental chimney pot for the top of the flu’s can accentuate the chimneys detailing. The fireplace elements and details are what separate the ordinary and extraordinary.
Wood or Gas Burning?
Certainly burning wood is the pinnacle of the fire experience with its unique and dynamic character and fragrances, but gas provides far greater design flexibility and none of the wood burning hassles. Designing a wood burning fireplace is an exact science with specific ratios that must be adhered to when it comes to sizing the firebox opening, depth, flu sizes and chimney heights. If done incorrectly the fireplace will not draw properly and you will get a face full of smoke thus ruining the whole fire experience. On the other hand, burning gas provides a vast range of design flexibility especially outdoors. Your firebox and chimney can be almost any shape and size, for that matter you don’t even need a chimney. A good fireplace designer can help you understand the pros and cons of each option in order to make the right choice for you and your family.
Fire pits are an affordable and flexible way to add a fire feature into your landscape. The traditional in-ground ‘campfire’ type fire pit can be a very low cost and fun destination for the entire family. Take it up another step and you could build a raised fire pit that giving a bit more of an architectural element to the feature. But why lock yourself into having fire in one specific location? In recent years, manufacturers have developed an extensive variety of fantastic fire pits, fire chambers and chimenea type products that can match almost any home owner’s budget and style preferences. Not only can you find a unique sculptural quality piece that will draw the envy of your visitors, you can move it to the action or put it away if you are having a large gathering and need the space. Review the link below for a view product options.