By Keith Frederick
Throughout history fire has been a source of warmth, food and social activity. Our ancient ancestors once gathered around primitive outdoor campfires while today the fireplace mantle is used to display our most prized possessions. Both styles remain popular elements in the home and the landscape as do newer uses of flame.
An outdoor fire feature can be used to creating a gathering place for family and guests where it will bring the comfort of the indoor outside by provides users with the basic benefits of light and heat. This can extend the season which an outdoor living space can be comfortable enjoyed into early spring and late fall. The fire feature can also be a source of ambience. A beautiful flame is like a piece of sculpture for the landscape offering an attractive focal point for outdoor entertaining.
It is easy to incorporate a fire feature into an outdoor living space. Open fire-pits reminiscent of a campfire are often constructed above ground in a raised wall so that it can be comfortably enjoyed while seated. This design allows users access to the flames to pull up a chair and put their feet by the fire or roast marshmallows over the open flame.
The fireplace is a more formal structure and even when not in use can be used to create privacy and block unwanted views. Whether freestanding or incorporated into a porch or pergola, fireplaces can be designed to compliment a wide variety of architectural styles and embellished beautifully with accessories such as lights, seating walls and storage.
Wood and gas are the most common fuel sources. Wood gives a distinctive flavor to foods whether grilling meats or roasting marshmallows. Of course, firewood needs to be kept dry, it takes time to get a wood fire burning, then it must be maintained and the smoke generated can be a nuisance. Gas can be lit with the push of a button and immediately extinguished. An existing gas line can be used to supply the fuel and because there is no smoke, a gas fireplace can be designed with little or no chimney and less expensive masonry. Gas is also used to fuel features such as linear burners and fire bowls that can pair the flame with a fountain or allow it to appear to burn from decorative pebbles.
Whether you prefer cooking over an open flame, making s’mores around the campfire or watching the fire dance from afar, there is a fireplace design sure to ignite your passion for flame!