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Fires for the Fall

There are few things more inviting than the warmth, crackling and glow of a fire outdoors. Despite cooler temperatures, fire pits can extend the fall season by creating a warm backyard retreat.  Whether your ideal vision includes kids roasting marshmallows over a rustic wood fire pit or relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening in front of a beautiful fireplace, there is sure to be the just-right fire feature for you.

A fireplace can easily become the grand focal point as the central feature of your yard, drawing your family together around its warm glow. There are some key things to consider so you can start transforming your dreams into plans.

Boost resale value. If you are considering selling your home at some point, an outdoor fireplace can be a boost at sale time. According to CNN Money, a renovated outdoor space will provide a 100%-200% return on investment of a professionally designed and constructed outdoor living space.  With fire pits among the top three most popular backyard additions by renovating homeowners, staging the area with comfy outdoor furniture will help potential buyers envision themselves in the space.

Built-in versus freestanding.  Installing an outdoor fireplace is a big project, no matter how you look at it.  Before settling on a plan, consider whether you prefer an outdoor room destination, or a flexible fire alternative? Rather than locking in the site of your fire pit, choose a portable model that can be brought out and placed where you’d like it.

Built-in wood-burning fireplace. A well-constructed wood-burning fireplace is often the go-to heating element to keep everyone toasty on a cold night. Not to mention, there is something about the rolling crackle of real wood logs that draws children and adults to its authentic flame.  Built-in fireplaces can provide a modern or traditional look. Typically, built-in wood fireplaces have a more traditional look and are a great way to anchor an outdoor room.

Creating your Perfect Fireplace.  If you are having trouble envisioning how a certain fireplace would look with your home, start building a mood board or ideabook with your favorite styles. Then take a picture of your house and play around until you find a pairing you love.  A design/build remodeler can assist you with a design that you will love and the landscaper to complete it. 

Beacon in the dark. When choosing the position of your fire pit, consider whether you’d be able to see the fire element from inside the house. The flicker of flames can tempt you to step outside and enjoy the evening in the garden when you might otherwise be prone to stay inside. It can also light up a far corner of your yard.

Crowd-pleasers. Lighting up a fire is a natural way to create a focal point at an outdoor gathering. Gathering around a fire with friends and family is a fun and communal outdoor experience (hopefully COVID won’t last forever). Whether you're making s'mores and telling ghost stories with the kids, catching up over a few drinks, or just stargazing with your significant other, the warmth and light of a fire is incredibly relaxing.

Year-round Outdoor Feature. You would be hard pressed to find a backyard feature as versatile as the fireplace. In the summer, roast s’mores by starlight. In fall and winter, wrap yourself in a thick blanket and sip hot cider or cocoa while gathered with friends.

Cook on Your Wood Fireplace. Make a backyard campout feel even more authentic by cooking dinner over the open flames. If you like cooking over the open flame, choose a style that has an excellent grill.  Place a grill rack over the fire to cook above the flames or wrap up foil packets and tuck them among the coals. Then pull up a seat and dig in. Food always tastes better outside!

Or request that your stone fireplace also have a pizza oven to cook in. What’s appealing about wood-fueled ovens is the intense, dry heat that sears food, creating a crusty exterior and a moist interior while using a long metal paddle to ease dishes in and out.

Shape of Fireplace.  If you do splurge for custom, consider a design that relates not only to your fire pit but also to other hardscape materials in the backyard. If you’ve picked out a square or rectangular fire feature, consider choosing outdoor furniture with the same right angles and in a width similar to that of the fire pit.

This photo features a square-top concrete fire pit and clean-lined furniture. The combination fits together both in style and proportion: The furniture follows the straight lines of the fire pit and fits snugly around all four sides of it.

Gathering the Circle. Circular shapes, whether for a patio, fire pit or dining table, often feel more personal and inviting than boxy shapes. In this Northern California backyard, a low wall encloses the fire pit seating area in a circle, increasing the feeling of intimacy. The concrete wall mimics the circular shape of the gas-burning fire pit and doubles as extra seating if more than four come to enjoy the glow. Simple wood lounge chairs arranged in a semicircle reinforce the circular pattern play. It’s tough to find premade outdoor furniture in curved shapes — if you love this look, it may be worth it to go for a custom-built bench.

Fall and cooler weather are around the corner and now is the time to plan on a wonderful backyard to enjoy. If you are thinking about adding landscaping with a fireplace, Creative Spaces Remodeling (a Design/Build Company) can design and build a wonderful hardscape backyard that includes a fireplace, places to sit, walkways and plants for a cohesive design to enjoy for years to come.


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