Outdoor fireplaces are becoming more and more popular as essential elements of outdoor living. With so many design options, though, it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide on just one style. Here are five ways to design your outdoor fireplace in the Hershey, PA area, so that you’ll be happy with the outcome and enjoy its warm ambience for many years.
First, decide where you want your fireplace: as part of a patio sitting area, near an outdoor kitchen, in the shelter of a covered porch, or poolside. Choosing the right location is essential, as you won’t want to move the fireplace once it’s installed. A fireplace becomes a focal point in your yard, so be sure you take your time deciding not only where to place it, but also its orientation and the space around it. Consider how the fireplace will enhance or block views, whether it will create a sense of privacy, its proximity to any flammable features such as overhanging roofs or plants, and most of all, how to ensure easy traffic flow.
Size and Shape
Carefully consider the height and size of the fireplace so that it balances the home and the rest of the outdoor elements to prevent the fire feature from overwhelming your outdoor living space. You also want to ensure it is in proportion to your home. As you can see in the featured image, the sturdy fieldstone-and-brick fireplace not only perfectly matches the home’s architectural aesthetic, but also its size and shape.
Fuel: Gas/Propane or Wood?
Some people love the smell and crackle of a natural wood fire, while others prefer the cleanliness and convenience of gas or propane. Although more costly to install and operate, gas/propane offers added safety (on-off switches and lower heat output). Ultimately the fuel you choose is up to you—and your local fire ordinances.
Design-wise, fuel matters because it dictates the location of your fireplace, as well as whether you need to include access for a gas line or easy access for carrying wood in your project.
Style and Features
Modern outdoor fireplaces can be anything you want them to be: a sleek, minimalist, three-sided stand-alone unit; a rustic fireplace reminiscent of old hunting lodges; or a fire feature with a wow factor such as a TV, integrated low-voltage lighting, waterfall, or even a built-in mini fridge and bar. Many people like to add built-in seating near the fireplace, for overflow seating and to create a more substantial feel for the fireplace area.
While there are no limits to creativity, for the best aesthetic results, you may want to aim to complement the style of the fireplace to your home. You don’t need to match it exactly, but you may want to use materials that make the fireplace blend into its surroundings. Deviating too far from the home’s style—for example, an ultramodern sculptural fireplace next to a Cape Cod house—can look out of place.
Modular, Semi-Custom, or Custom?
Now that you have decided where to put your fireplace, its size and shape, the type of fuel, and special features, you can narrow your choices to either a modular unit or a custom build. Outdoor fireplaces can be constructed from a variety of masonry products. Modular units give you the benefit of fast installation and lower cost—but may not be able to accommodate special features.
For a semi-custom option, you can add custom features to the modular fireplace unit, such as firewood nooks, an extended hearth, and a personalized mantel, and of course special features like waterfalls or seating walls.