Sep 25, 2023

21 Outdoor Fireplace Ideas

By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

Humans have convened around outdoor fires since…too long ago to count. The allure of flickering flames is timeless and there are plenty of outdoor fireplace ideas to fit your needs and wants.

For a truly bewitching experience, consider echoing your architecture or juxtaposing against it. "I love to use masonry—such as stone or brick—that matches the exterior of the home, or something totally different, like a sculptural metal that matches any accessories for fences and really becomes a focal point in the landscape," says Robert Bell, landscape architect behind the Washington, DC, firm Bell Design.

We got intel from top designers to suss out everything you need to know for your backyard fireplace, whether you’re hoping to create an outdoor living area or a Tuscan fire feature. Just add marshmallows.

We get it: Not everyone has the duckets to install a covered patio with a woodburning brick fireplace, or a Mediterranean-inspired outdoor kitchen complete with a pizza oven. But there are plenty of more affordable options, especially if you’re willing to DIY or opt for a fire pit instead. Fire is fire…and can supply instant ambiance.

Although it's (hopefully) obvious, safety is paramount. Whatever outdoor fireplace ideas you end up going with, it's vital to ensure proper placement, Bell says. You’ll want an outdoor fireplace or fire pit "far enough from the house so sparks won't catch anything on fire, but not so far they're inconvenient to get to," he says. Typically that means 20 feet minimum to 60 feet maximum from your home itself. "Consider maintenance: gas fireplaces are far easier to deal with than wood, but less charming, as nothing beats the smell of wood!" Bell says. And there are other aesthetic considerations, like lighting—especially to create a focal point al fresco. "Usually you want the fire to be the center of attention, so low-level lighting is key," he says. "You shouldn't put anything bright at eye level to compete with the flames. Movable lanterns or subtle uplighting around the fireplace is usually best."

If you ever read "The Three Little Pigs" fable as a child, you know sometimes it's worth it to splurge on materials that will last. A stone fireplace or brick fireplace may cost more upfront than a fire pit, but if you’re planning on making this your forever home, try to think of it as an investment that will reap benefits al fresco for decades to come. "The best materials for an outdoor fireplace ultimately depend on the architecture and materiality of the house itself, and this also drives the cost," says designer Benjamin Johnston of Houston's Benjamin Johnston Design. One major factor in what you choose is if you’re going for woodburning or gas, Johnston says. "Do you want to generate heat or is your outdoor fireplace going to serve as simply a focal point, like most do in Houston?"

As with anything, you can go high or low when it comes to outdoor fireplace ideas. Some landscaping would benefit from a gas fireplace flickering beside intricate pavers, but even a small patio can get summer-ready with an outdoor fire pit that doubles as a BBQ. "It depends on the specifics," says Eddie Maestri, principal architect, creative director, and owner of Maestri Studio in Dallas. "A general estimate is about $12,000."

For an outdoor fireplace, "the most cost-effective option would be a prefab insert," Maestri says. But if you’re hoping to save even more money, consider a fire pit or even DIY—it will be well worth the effort. "If you want to create a cozy, year-round gathering space, fire pits are a low-cost way to add functionality and comfort to your outdoor entertaining space," says Kevin Lenhart, Design Director at Yardzen, an online landscape company who says fire pits and fireplaces are included in 70% of their designs.

Preppy makes perfect for this outdoor fireplace design by Noelle Interiors, with its striped throw cushions, woven natural fiber touches, and towering stone fireplace. We particularly love the handcrafted pendants in three eye-catching sizes over the seating area, which provide a dazzling touch of summer overhead.

"A warm, modern aesthetic that uses organic colors and textures can balance, clean contemporary lines," says Dominique Coffman, Vice President of Design at Design West. Coffman favors a gas fireplace over a woodburning fireplace: "They are easy to light and turn off with the flip of a switch or remote control. Another benefit of gas fireplaces is that they do not produce smoke, which makes them a cleaner option."

Paging Nancy Meyers. "For this space, antique firebricks take center stage against a simple, pared-back exterior," says Susan Spath, principal of San Diego firm Kern & Co. "The modern style mixed with classic elements creates a space that is eye-catching. When designing this outdoor space, the client wanted an area that was simply beautiful, yet cozy. The plentiful U-shaped seating arrangement allows for intimate conversation while facing the warmth and crackle of the fire." Consider us there.

Adjacent to his clients’ pool, fire pit, and verdant landscaping, Nashville designer Brad Ramsey put together the ultimate covered patio: complete with a woodburning fireplace (note its herringbone tile), outdoor kitchen, grill, and outdoor living room the homeowners undoubtedly adore. "There is a hidden powered retractable screen, so the room can either be closed off to protect from weather and bugs, or it can be opened up to the rest of the backyard space when entertaining," Ramsey says. Um, brilliant.

"This brand-new pool house was built in such a way to exude the charm of the 1920s home it belongs to," Maestri says. "The traditional fireplace honors the time period, while bricks complement the home's exterior and the added chimney pot provides an extra touch of character. Its central location offers a great view of the pool while relaxing by the fire." Who needs a pool house when they have a pool patio?

"On the back porch of this midcentury-modern-inspired home, we selected bricks to match the rest of the house," Maestri says. "Opting for a raised firebox with a floating concrete hearth creates a cozy space that can easily be enjoyed when sitting next to the fire." And of course, a few well-placed cocktail tables are key.

What is it about red, white, and blue that feels like an eternal summer? "This Houston home's gracious architecture is distinctly American and feels fresh and modern despite stylistic roots that can be traced back to New England country houses," says Johnston. "A new-old juxtaposition of time periods and styles is a running theme, and this considered mix is skillfully celebrated through the home—inside and out. Spaces are classic, yet contemporary, including the outdoor fireplace and its seating area. Bold colors and modern lines juxtaposed with traditional materials continue the interior's aesthetic to the outdoor gathering areas." In other words, the magic is in the mix.

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

"The outdoor seating area in this Houston home is an extension of the casually elegant interiors," says designer Courtnay Tartt Elias of Creative Tonic Design, who used blues and greens that echo the interior spaces. Because these homeowners are a family of six (plus a furry flurry of dogs) who love to entertain, it was important that everything be both welcoming and hard-wearing. "To that end, the outdoor fireplace mimics the fireplace in the living room, with clean lines and a plaster finish." Now, this outdoor living area "is the perfect spot to watch the frequent Houston rain, enjoy a fire on our rare chilly days, or gather while the homeowners serve up some delicious food from the nearby outdoor kitchen."

If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit a stone fireplace, complete the look (and al fresco experience) by saddling up a BBQ and a charming quartet of Adirondack chairs to encourage your best summer yet. The only thing missing here? One or two water features, which can summon the misty, cooling allure of a waterfall even in the sultry heat of the season.

By nightfall this sleek and modern pool has a sultry addition: the dancing flames within its stone fireplace. We like the symmetry of the seating area here, plus the fact that the color palette mimics the lush surrounding landscaping.

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

We admit it: We’re stuck on stucco, especially when it comes to outdoor fireplace ideas. Paired with a terra-cotta roof, tidy garden beds and inky black sconces, this outdoor living area has all the charm of a Mediterranean manse.

When you let climbing vines go a bit wild, an outdoor patio gets an almost fairytale mystique. This stucco, woodburning fireplace has a similar aesthetic to the kiva fireplaces of the indigenous Pueblo people in the Southwest; we love it paired with the sturdy iron scroll armchairs with ultra plush cushions for comfort.

For this Yardzen outdoor living space, grass defines the graphic pattern of clean-lined paver squares. "When choosing a space for your fire pit, remember to look above and below," Lenhart says. "You want open air space and below you want a stable surface—something like aggregate, gravel or concrete is best."

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

"A fire pit's greatest utility is bringing people together for conversation and in order to do that, you need to be comfortable," Lenhart says. Look closely at this outdoor living room by Yardzen and you’ll notice all the comforts of the interior rendered al fresco—including a cushy sofa studded with throw pillows and outdoor dining area with a pergola for shade. "You can update an outdoor living room with stylish extra touches like a cozy wool blanket, outdoor pillows and strategically placed container plants. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to leave plenty of space for circulation, so opt for fewer, bigger plant containers to minimize clutter and keep things open!

"Our client had purchased a beautiful Spanish home in Pasadena and wanted the interior courtyard to be an oasis for their young family," says Los Angeles designer Jenn Feldman. "We created a seating area around the fireplace that was transitional, focusing on silhouettes that looked beautiful from all interior angles and the glass doors surrounding the space." They kept the inherited terra-cotta tiles, but had them cleaned and regrouted for a quick face-lift. "The neutral furniture allowed the colors to pop, which was our goal." Feldman recommends three feet of set back when it comes to furniture placement around a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. "And always look for an outdoor screen or gate—especially if there are young children and pets in the family!"

It's not quite summer on the patio without twinkly lights overhead. "When designing an outdoor fireplace, I take my lead from the exterior," says Los Angeles designer Christine Vroom, who says it's vital for it to flow with its surroundings. "From there, I would determine if you want a bold tile accent, a small pop of color, an interesting shape, texture, pattern, etc. The fireplace is typically the focal point, so this is where you can look at your space, decide what it is needed, and then have some fun with it! I also suggest using a really pretty log set, or having some fun with fire spheres or crystals to add that extra touch of detail."

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

Here, architect Luis Murillo of LMD Architecture Studio kept a serene aesthetic so as not to interfere with the jaw-dropping ocean view. "A successful outdoor fire feature allows gathering around it, it is located in a way that makes the space that it belongs to an extension of the adjacent interior spaces, provides just the right amount of heat to make the space comfortable and, when possible, has a roof over it," Murillo says. "Occasionally a fire feature can be combined with a view to make the perfect setting."

This Long Beach, California, backyard designed by Yardzen is "all outdoor living all the time," Lenhart says, adding that they use every inch of square footage, from the pizza oven to the conversation cove. "The built-in bench here borrows beautifully from the home's white stucco exterior and creates a cozy gathering space that begs for conversation," Lenhart says. "The rust-colored fire pit and golden gravel bring a lived-in and earthy feel, warming up the stark white of the stucco bench and cinderblock privacy wall."

A symmetrical stone fireplace is timeless, especially when it's double-sided to face the dance party on the patio on one end and rolling green lawns on the other. Straddling it, a whitewashed wicker patio set will never go out of style.

By Emil Wilbekin

By Katie Schultz

By Katherine McLaughlin

"When designing a custom fire pit and a custom bench, don't forget to consider all heights for optimal lounging and back support," says San Francisco designer Regan Baker, who designed this shapely stunner. "Curved and deep bench style seating provides flexibility for multiple heights and styles of lounging while maximizing seat count."

New Yorkers don't have to forgo the instant hygge that an outdoor fireplace provides. Shown here: Front & York, a Dumbo condo designed by architect Morris Adjmi with a dual-sided fireplace that comes with the ultimate amenity: an outdoor screening lounge for indulgent movie nights, year-round.

By Bridget Reed Morawski

By Abid Haque

By Rachel Davies

By Amelia Mularz

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