Guest Blogger #437, Entry #1054, March 29, 2012
When it comes to turning your boring outdoor space into an exterior room that extends the usable square footage of your home, there are plenty of elements you’ll want to include, such as a cooktop/grill, seating areas, screening foliage, and plenty of lighting and shelter options. But since it can definitely be more difficult to regulate temperature in an outdoor setting, you may also want to consider including a fireplace as a way to provide both the heating and light that can be lacking as day falls to evening. It can also offer a focal point for your overall design, a gathering spot for family members and guests alike (the proverbial hearth), and even a reason to get outdoors and do a little stargazing (thanks to a toasty and inviting blaze at your back). So if you’re thinking of adding a fireplace to your outdoor plan, here are a few design tips to help you pick the one that’s right for you.
Image via: Pinterest
Location, location, location
Whether you’re indoors or out, you’ll generally find that the fireplace is best situated in a central location. And in your large backyard space you’re not restricted to butting it up against a wall. This means that you can easily position this eye-catching feature in the dead center of the yard. Or if you think that will block the view (if, for example, you have a cinder-cone style structure in mind), think about at least locating it centrally within your seating area so that the most people can take advantage of its heating properties.
One thing you’ll definitely need to keep in mind is building codes. These generally pertain to how close an open flame is placed near flammable structures (for safety reasons). Of course, there may also be laws in your area about open flame in general, so you should ask about allowable structures (open-air fire pits, for example), as well as restrictions on materials (wood versus gas).
Image via: Elledecor
Designing your outdoor space comes with one major caveat in terms of style. While you don’t necessarily have to mirror the style of your home, you do want to create an overall unified whole, so you should probably try to stick to the basic design style featured. For example, a sleek, ultramodern box of a fireplace may fit in perfectly with the clean lines and minimalist style of midcentury modern home. But try to pair it with a detailed Victorian and you’ll end up with two styles that clash worse than a Metallica/Justin Bieber mashup (in short, disaster).
This is the main consideration for most people where home upgrades are concerned. Although it would be nice to build the beautiful, custom fireplace you crave with no thought to cost, the truth is that you probably have a budget to work with. So when designing your outdoor fireplace just keep in mind that the travertine tiles you love can be replaced with less expensive faux versions, and you may be able to find used materials (a burner, bricks, and so on) that are still in good condition on sites like Craigslist or via yard sales.
The way you plan to use your fireplace could affect the design you choose. For example, do you want all-around heat? A multi-sided fireplace or even an open fire pit could provide the best solution. Perhaps you would like the ability to cook with your fireplace, so maybe a stone oven setup would be more your style. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles (and potential hazards) of wood or gas, in which case electric fireplaces would be preferable. So think about how you plan to use this tool and it could help to determine your design.
For more outdoor living ideas on Stagetecture, click here.