On a cool evening, when the air is a bit too crisp to sit outside, a crackling fire would make your Mechanicsburg, PA, outdoor space more inviting. If you enjoy outdoor entertaining, an outdoor fireplace would be much more than a luxury feature in your landscape. It will become a necessity that gives you more time to enjoy your outdoor space—since this is part of the investment in your home, it makes sense to extend the outdoor season as much as possible! Here’s how to get the most out of your outdoor fireplace.
Location: Finding the Place for Your Outdoor Fireplace
Your landscape design could be fully focused around the fireplace, with considerations given to adding similar amenities and comforts to your outdoor space that you enjoy indoors. The biggest challenges are often where to put the fireplace, and what design to choose.
If you have an existing stone wall such as a retaining wall in your backyard, consider attaching the fireplace to it using the same or complementary materials, to blend it into the existing hardscape. This will create a cozy, sheltered fire nook, where family and friends can gather. Built-in stone benches on the retaining wall side, along with a seating wall on the opposite side, will give you plenty of seating without the clutter of patio furniture.
Build a multi-sided standalone fireplace with a stone veneer that matches the materials on your existing hardscape, and place it in a central location where people can sit on any side. A stone or brick fireplace with openings on three or four sides allows more people to gather around it. This option also lets you keep outdoor kitchens, dining and seating areas toasty on chilly days.
Take advantage of an existing porch to add a sheltered fireplace, or have the fireplace built under a new pavilion. This lets you use your fireplace even when it’s raining or snowing, and also lets you mount a TV above the firebox. There may be no better way to extend your outdoor entertaining season than with a sheltered fireplace area!
Making the Outdoor Fireplace the Focal Point
Experiment with unusual materials to create a stunning focal point. Fireplaces don’t have to be faced with brick or stone. Poured concrete is a popular option for minimalist modern designs. Thin, monochromatic stacked flagstone (or a veneer) is a top design trend that translates very well to outdoor spaces.
Create an elevated fireplace with a generous hearth that lets people cozy right up to the fire. A modern style is to build low, wide fireplaces; when they’re elevated, the hearth is at a comfortable seating height and you can store firewood, extra blankets, and other necessities in safe nearby cubbies.
As you start the design process for your backyard fireplace, don’t neglect practical considerations. If you choose a wood-fired fireplace, you’ll want convenient storage for firewood that keeps wood out of the elements. If you decide to go for a natural gas or propane fireplace, consider any upheaval that installing the gas lines will cause to your existing hardscape features. Whichever fuel type you choose, ensure that there is adequate seating for the people who will use the fireplace the most, and use materials that integrate it into the existing landscape.