By Jill Morgan
Nothing can beat outdoor fireplace ideas as a way of creating a dramatic focal point and a cozy spot to relax and unwind. Whether it’s somewhere to gather round with family and friends, toast marshmallows with the kids or admire the warm welcoming glow from afar, it’s a garden feature that’s hard to beat.
Just as indoors, outdoor fireplace ideas come in all shapes and sizes, from retro-inspired stoves, industrial burners to sleek, inset all-glass affairs. Their style can have a big impact on the look and feel of your outdoor space, so it’s worth weighing up the options.
Do you want a small freestanding stove to sit in the corner of the seating area or is a chic inset fire needed as a lively backdrop to an alfresco dining? Perhaps your plot and lifestyle call for an outdoor snug complete with covered seating and a substantial fireplace?
Fuel choice plays a key role in your outdoor heating ideas too, as each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. So take the time to find the right design for your space so you can snuggle up in warmth and style, even if the temperatures begin to drop.
Outdoor fireplace ideas: stylish ways to warm up your outdoor space
Whatever option you go for, our favorite outdoor fireplace ideas will instantly transform how you spend your time outside. Creating an uplifting highlight that’s hard to resist, it will encourage everyone to linger longer outside and help to extend your home’s living space too.
1. Create a cosy all-weather snug
When you need a change of scene, or just fancy a healthy dose of fresh air, stylish and comfortable outdoor living space ideas can be just the ticket. Add in small but mighty outdoor fireplace ideas too and it will soon be a go-to spot you’ll never want to leave.
Matt Simpson from Pineapple Interiors, the creator of this glorious space says, 'We wanted to create a comfortable outdoor living room environment, where you could enjoy a glass of Pimms in the summer and a mug of mulled wine at Christmas. For the winter months, we incorporated a log burner and made a feature of the wooden logs either side to add texture and contrast to the black shiplap fencing and canopy roof. An outdoor rug finishes the space off and softens the tiled floor finish.'
You'll find more patio cover ideas in our dedicated feature.
2. Plan ahead and keep logs to hand
If you're already a fan of fire pit ideas, you'll know that wood is unbeatable for atmosphere. Delicious wafts of wood smoke, the crackle of logs and the warm glow of the dying embers is memory-making stuff, but you will need a ready supply of kindling and logs and somewhere dry to store the timber nearby. Why not solve the issue by showcasing your fuel and using it create a welcoming log cabin vibe?
Here, two tall steel framed wood stores make striking features and double as unique garden wall ideas to enclose the secluded seating area. A side table, rug and throw complete the homely feel.
3. Reclaim some vintage charm
This might not be the best option if you're set on creating hot and toasty outdoor fireplace ideas, but the charms of this reclaimed surround, in this setting, are hard to resist. With full on vintage appeal and a tiny biofuel fire neatly tucked into the opening, the mood of these patio ideas is undeniably cool, chic and inviting.
Designer Fleur Ward was inspired to create a fireplace/sitting area outside underneath a contemporary pergola. 'I loved the idea of a worn rustic fire surround that looked like it had been there for years, so found this one on a reclamation website and installed a biofuel fire for added aesthetics. Our house is Edwardian with a formal sitting room at the front that faces west. The centre room is the dark and moody TV room, so this outside space offers a more casual spring/summer sitting room that we don’t have inside.'
Want to create something similar in your outside space? Head over to our pergola ideas for clever ways to introduce these garden structures into your plot.
4. Make an outdoor fireplace part of the architecture
If you're planning a large house renovation project, why not make your outdoor fireplace ideas part of your property renovation plans too? It's a great way to ensure that your outdoor focal point works well with the style and architecture of your property.
This oversized stone fireplace and chimney could risk dominating the small patio ideas, but by working with a simple palette of materials and ensuring it complements the house, it becomes a stunning feature that grabs your attention for all the right reasons.
5. Warm up by an outdoor fireplace after a swim
What could be better than getting out of the pool on slightly cooler day and warming up in front of an open fire? Add an outdoor fireplace to your pool house ideas and you'll always have a cozy spot to sit and dry off, whatever the weather.
Once the sun has set and your pool house becomes the focal point for outdoor entertaining, you'll also get to enjoy the view of flickering flames reflected in the water of the pool.
6. Make a garden fireplace the focal point
As human beings we have a deep-seated instinct to gravitate towards fire, so what better way to lure us outside – day or night – than by nestling your outdoor fireplace ideas at the bottom of the garden.
Include a fireplace in your secluded outdoor dining ideas and you’ll be able to dine and entertain in the warmth and glow of the flames any time of day or year. 'The part recessed covered dining space provides a cozy retreat,' explains garden designer Neil Jones. 'The dark stained timbers help the pergola and boundaries to visually recede so as not to dominate the space whilst providing the perfect backdrop for the feature Corten steel fireplace with log stores either side. The addition of festoon light ideas over the pergola adds to the cozy, inviting atmosphere of the space after dark.'
7. Dial up the style stakes with a sculptural fire
There’s no need for a beautiful fireplace to take up loads of room. Some of the most eye-catching outdoor fireplace ideas have a small footprint, allowing them to be used in the tiniest of spaces, including as part of courtyard garden ideas or on roof terraces.
Contemporary shapes look almost as good when not in use too, plus they won’t encroach on a view, dominate the area or interrupt anyone’s eyeline either.
8. Go for a statement see-through design
Create outdoor seating ideas that are the envy of all your crowd, with a central, double or multi-sided fireplace in middle of the action. Standing centre stage on the patio, these eye-catching numbers have something of a retro feel. With glass on opposite or all sides they give an unrivaled view of the dancing flames inside and can certainly kick out the heat too.
These products tend to be wood burning, so do require a flue. Look for added features such as an Airwash system, that helps combustion and keeps the inside of the glass soot-free, and a chimney with rain cowl to keep the logs dry in wet weather.
9. Build a fireplace into the wall
Accentuate sleek, multi-level landscaping ideas by building your outdoor fireplace ideas into a retaining wall.
In this smart design, plenty of clever thinking was called for to make the most of the compact space. Built-in bench seating can be used for chilling and dining and the block-style fireplace was deliberately kept to the same height, and rendered grey, to embed it into the scheme.
Thanks to the bioethanol fuel there is no need for a flue, which helps to keep the shape minimal. A plant derived and sustainable liquid fuel, it is hugely heat efficient and needs no venting.
10. Show off an organized wood store
Keep a close eye on fuel stocks for your outdoor fireplace ideas with a cleverly designed wood store. An ample supply of logs takes up considerable space, so you may as well turn them into an attractive display too.
Look for simple shaped garden storage ideas such as pyramids, or rectangles that can double up as handy partitions or casual block seating or food prep areas. One of our favorites, however, is this standout circle design. Made from Corten steel and divided into sections – perfect for separating kindling, small and large logs and even varying wood types (cherry, apple, oak etc) – it’s the vision beauty and organization.
11. Opt for a stove with a large viewing window
You can’t beat a wood burning fire for atmosphere, so maximize the charm by choosing a stove with a large viewing window. Sleek styling and a compact, contemporary design will ensure your design has tons of impact.
Perfect for sitting in the corner of a patio or courtyard, go for a pared-back design that throws out plenty of heat and light. Raising the hearth to seating height not only enables everyone to enjoy the cheery glow but makes cleaning and refueling the fire so much easier too.
12. Gather round a smoke-free gas fire
Just like the best patio heaters, gas outdoor fireplace ideas are ideal for entertaining or when you need warmth instantly. Cleaner than wood, there’s no ash or soot to clear away after, making them a perfect option if you prefer low maintenance garden ideas. There's no smoke to sting the eyes either, yet it still has those mesmerizing flickering flames.
Easily controlled either manually by a dial or remotely through wireless controller or even smartphone app, you can vary the height and intensity of the fire to suit the occasion. Most designs come either as LPG (Liquified petroleum gas) or natural mains gas compatible, but do consider the best arrangement for your ideal location before buying.
Some gas fireplaces have integral hidden compartments to house the gas canister, while others specify that the fuel holder needs to be a set distance from the fire’s control panel. For natural gas, a mains line will need to be installed and this, as with any gas connection, is definitely a job for a qualified professional.
13. Fill gabions for a feature fireplace
For a truly show-stealing design, it’s hard to beat a substantial gabion fireplace. Designed as a series of wire steel cages to be filled with rocks, or cobbles of your choice, a central void is left, ready to slot a preassembled wood burning hearth, log store and chimney into.
The beauty of this system is that you can configure it to suit your space. High walls will not only let you raise the fire up to a comfortable viewing height but also provide ample garden privacy ideas too. A lower arrangement could house a fire and provide seating too – although you may need cushions for comfort. It’s also simple to create a freestanding double-sided fireplace – great for zoning dining and lounging areas on your patio.
14. Choose a paint color to enhance the glow
Make your outdoor fireplace ideas even more cosy by framing the fire with a rich colored wall. A simple, but-oh-so-effective designer trick, you can’t help but gravitate towards it and linger in the gorgeous glow.
This smart and super-stylish project is a fantastic example of how small garden ideas can still pack a design punch thanks to some clever solutions. A bioethanol fireplace is built into the rear garden wall, which has been rendered and painted in a deep red. Three burners are highlighted by the limestone hearth, chosen to echo the paving ideas and adjacent rendered wall, while a dark-toned hardwood bench adds to the effect.
15. Choose a fireplace you can cook with too
If you love to entertain, go for a fireplace you can cook on too to really maximize your outdoor grill ideas. Many designs come with slide-in grills, and even surrounding hot plates, which are fab for grilling vegetables, chicken and seafood. What’s more, everyone can have a go, taking pressure off the chef.
Pizza ovens continue to soar in popularity, and range from traditional domed models that true devotees can even build themselves to portable tabletops designs and substantial chimney designs. You'll typically find that the best pizza oven is primarily designed to cook fast at high temperatures, so you only really get to enjoy any flames (or embers) once dinner is done, but a few products have a viewing door plus smaller oven door for maximum flame effect.
16. Free up space with a wall-hung design
Whether you’ve a small, compact area or outside spot that’s busy with children and pets, a wall-hung outdoor fireplace will give you peace of mind. Perfect for modern garden ideas, these sleek designs come in stunning shapes and materials and make a fabulous raised focal point.
Bioethanol fires are simple to install as they do not require venting, but gas and wood burning models do. These products usually have an integral flue or vent that is surface mounted, releasing heat and any smoke and ash up to a height of around 5ft (1.5m).
Which style of outdoor fireplace is right for me?
If you want to make a real statement in your outside space, a fireplace is ideal. Often designed to sit snugly against the wall or in a corner, they make a strong focal point in a lounge or more formal outdoor sitting or dining area. Available in a wide range of different styles, shapes and sizes, the most popular materials tend to be metal, either stainless steel, Corten steel or cast iron.
For an alternative and more substantial look for your outdoor fireplace ideas, consider a brick, masonry or stone-built design. Landscape contractors will be able to finish a job in a couple of days (including drying time) but there are many block kits available so you can build your own if you're keen on trying your hand at some DIY garden design ideas.
Kit materials vary from hollow and solid fire bricks that can then be faced in decorative stone or whole structures made from lightweight Icelandic Pumice. Features range from large arched openings, flush or projecting hearths, smaller side recesses for handy wood stores and even space for fitting a TV above.
What's the best wood to use on an outdoor fireplace?
As with any log fire, seasoned wood is a must, particularly if you're after ways for how to create an eco friendly garden. Containing less moisture than freshly cut timber, it will burn more efficiently, smoke and spit less and release less soot too. We spoke to the team at Firepit.co.uk for their tips on choosing the best fuel for your outdoor fireplace ideas:
- Season freshly sawn cut logs by stacking them somewhere dry and well ventilated and leaving for six to 12 months.
- Alternatively invest in timber that has been kiln dried. Light in weight and color, any moisture is sucked out using heat, which means you get a cleaner and more efficient burn.
- Hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods and tend to burn cleaner and for longer.
- Softwoods come from evergreen trees. Quick to light they make perfect kindling.
- The natural oils in timber are released when burnt and can be used to scent and flavor food. Beech, apple and cedar all have distinctive and pleasant aromas.
Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. There was never a moment at their house when they weren’t weeding, pruning, planting or harvesting cucumbers or dahlias from the lean-to greenhouse. Her Grandad’s shed was a place of wonder, and she can still recall the musky smell. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey and spends much of her time writing about them too. A typical long-thin town garden it features favourite flowers along with the odd veg plant and the usual assortment of toys, bikes and… oh a couple of guinea pigs too.
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