Cozy outdoor fire pit ideas for your backyard
From focal features to s'mores-ready
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My work as a shelter magazine writer has introduced me to a multitude of houses, many of which have had not only a family room fireplace, but also, some sort of fire feature in the open air—an outdoor fire pit, outdoor fire bowl, and fire pit table are among the most popular.
Gathering around these fire features with friends for good conversation, drinks and nibbles is one of the nicest ways I can think of to socialize, no matter what time of year.
Indoor-outdoor living is so celebrated these days that outdoor fire pits and their offspring now come in a dizzying number of shapes, sizes and styles at price points that fit any budget, whether you’re looking to spend $50 or several thousand dollars.
Narrowing your options
Once you’ve settled on a price range, how do you narrow down the choices even further?
According to Kaley Galinsky, associate merchant at The Home Depot headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, these are some questions customers should be prepared to answer:
- Do you have a preferred fuel type?
- How much space do you have in your yard?
- How would you describe the design, style, and color palette of your yard?
- Do you want the fire feature to be the focal point of your outdoor area?
- How important is it for you to be able to move the product around?
“We offer a variety of outdoor fire pits, some for wood, but also, propane fire pits, patio heaters, and chimineas in stores, plus an extended assortment online that includes outdoor fireplaces,” says Galinsky.
She adds, “We have options for small cozy spaces or large outdoor areas. We have small gas fire pits that you can put on top of a patio dining table, and we have various materials and styles so you can match your outdoor space to the aesthetics of your home.”
In-store prices at The Home Depot for the three most common types of outdoor fire products—wood, gas, and patio heaters—rarely go above $400, with the 30-inch steel Hampton Bay Piedmont wood fire pit for heating or grilling among their best sellers, and it’s under $100.
DIY your outdoor fire feature
If you want the nostalgic ambience of a wood fire, but prefer the look of stone to metal, an outdoor fire ring DIY kit is worth considering.
Chris Schneeweiss, a realtor and handyman in Orleans, Massachusetts, recently upgraded from a portable fire pit to a Cape Cod Fire Pit from Stonewood Products (similar kits are available at The Home Depot and Lowe’s). Easy to assemble (especially if you watch the instructional YouTube video), its modular, manmade stone blocks stacked around a heavy-gauge steel fire ring are as attractive as a DIY fire feature gets.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, and you’ve got an old washing machine laying around, you can build your own fire pit for approximately $10.
Use it as a focal point for outdoor living
Not into DIY or big-box stores? High-end households tend to have extravagant outdoor living areas with pools and luxury seating arranged around an outdoor fire pit, fire bowl, or patio fire table. Unlike a firepit or fire bowl, which exclusively provide heating benefits, fire tables are designed to be completely usable as a table as well.
“It’s the perfect focal point and gathering place for a private outdoor oasis,” says Sarah Callahan, brand marketing manager at Brown Jordan, a leader in luxury leisure furnishings with eight flagship stores and showrooms in major cities across the U.S. in addition to a phalanx of local dealers.
The latest line of fire tables by Brown Jordan—sleek, functional designs with ample space to set down food or drinks when entertaining guests—is extremely luxurious and priced to match. Says Callahan, they feature “top-of-the-line materials such as new ceramic tops, matte river rock fire media, and over 60,000 BTUs.”
Brown Jordan is one of a number of brands that offer their products fueled by propane, natural gas or ethanol, which is the most eco-friendly option. Your choice depends entirely on your lifestyle.
Custom is expensive, but unique
Most homeowners are likely to find a fire feature that suits their needs and preferences online or in a brick-and-mortar store. But, if you have something really special in mind, contact a professional for customized options, like an outdoor fireplace built just for you.
Be prepared to spend more than for a pre-built feature, but it’s the way to go to get just the look and performance you’re after.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.