Fireplaces can give an otherwise ordinary space a cozy, warm ambiance. If you’d like to turn your home’s outdoor space into an inviting, comfortable place to spend time, consider adding a fireplace. Like other long-lasting structures around the home, it’s important to take the time necessary to develop an outdoor fireplace design that makes sense for the space and that you and your family will love for years to come.

Choose a Design Scheme

Most outdoor fireplaces are made of brick, stone, or a similar masonry material. These materials work well with a variety of home exteriors, but give some thought to whether you’d like your outdoor fireplace to match your home or whether you’d prefer to create a different—but complementary, perhaps—feel to your outdoor space. If you live in a traditional, colonial-style home, will you continue that design scheme outdoors? Do you plan to use river rocks or large stones to create a more rustic environment, or would you prefer to apply stucco to the finished exterior to lend a Mediterranean feel? Do you want a hearth large enough to accommodate seating, or do you envision a tall firebox that begins at ground level? A stone outdoor fireplace may feel more organic, while one made of brick will probably feel more formal. Consider working with a professional designer who can help you develop the perfect plan.

Don’t Ignore the Decorations

When architects and builders design a fireplace for a home’s interior, they typically plan for pieces of furniture and other design elements to be present in the room. Wall color, artwork, and fabric choices all work together to create the ambiance that the homeowner desires, so there’s not much need to decorate the fireplace itself. Rather, it often serves as its own decoration. Since an outdoor fireplace isn’t surrounded by four walls, you’ll need to recreate the feeling of a cozy room with comfortable outdoor seating, lighting, and other features. Look for chairs or cushions upholstered in durable, easy-to-clean fabrics. For times when strong storms blow through, protect the furniture by either bringing it to a covered area or by shielding it with weather-resistant covers. Lighting designers and electricians can help you bring attractive lighting schemes to the fireplace area, or you can use candles in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes to add to the fireplace’s atmosphere. Since most outdoor fireplaces are wood burning, you might also consider building space for firewood adjacent to the fireplace. This extra storage space, along with the chimney, can also be used to hang lanterns, seasonal wreaths, and other decorative items.

Outdoor fireplaces are a fantastic addition to an outdoor space. Almost everyone loves the cozy ambiance of a roaring fire, and in most climates, outdoor fireplaces can be used year-round. If you’re considering building a fireplace in your backyard, take advantage of the opportunity to let the creative, design-oriented side of your brain run wild. Outdoor fireplace ideas can be taken from almost anywhere. Think about the design choices you’ve already made on the inside of your home, take a walk around your neighborhood or backyard, and peruse home decor magazines and websites. With a little planning, you’ll have a cozy, inviting outdoor fireplace to use for relaxing and entertaining.

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Sources: HGTV; Landscaping Network; Southern Living.

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