Design Considerations for Outdoor Living Spaces – Part 3

Outdoor living space is a great home feature that will increase your home’s value.  It creates an outdoor focal point that will draw you outdoors and provides entertainment and recreation space throughout the year.  Whether you choose to relax with family or entertain with friends, an outdoor living space will add value and years of outdoor enjoyment to your home.  Adding an outdoor kitchen or fireplace to your backyard is a project that requires proper planning for successful results. This is the third of a four-part series of blogs detailing these factors to help you design the best outcome for your outdoor living space.

Outdoor Fireplace Design

Next, you’ll need to think about a design for your outdoor fireplace.  A fireplace is basically a large permanent structure with a firebox and a chimney.  The firebox contains the fire and the chimney draws the smoke away from the firebox.  

Many homeowners choose a “built-in” style, attaching the fireplace to an outside wall of the home or another wall in the outdoor space.  

Others prefer a freestanding fireplace.  

Choose a fireplace design that fits in scale with the size of the yard and home.  Consider the architecture of the home for details to replicate on the fireplace, mantle, or chimney.  The exterior is usually covered in some type of stone, brick or concrete. Custom features like a mantle, extended hearth, decorative tiles and wrought iron can be added for convenience and style.

Outdoor fireplaces can be built as small as 3-feet wide x 3-feet deep x 7-feet tall.  If you plan to entertain smaller groups, a smaller fireplace is adequate. If you plan to entertain large groups of people you need a large outdoor fireplace with an extended hearth and adequate room in front of the fireplace for guests to move around.  An extended hearth will comfortably seat 4-6 people, so you’ll need additional seating in the area.  Large fireplaces with a mantle, extended hearth, and built-in seating can get up to 15-feet wide x 4-feet deep x 15-feet tall.

Round Grove Products offers standard features and options to customize your outdoor fireplace and make it unique.  You can align the transition from the base to the chimney to be an important visual feature of your design—angled, squared, monolithic, or tapered. 

The firebox is constructed with real firebrick in either running bond or herringbone patterns.  

Another visual feature is the firebox opening.  Your design can determine an arched, semi-circular, or rectangular firebox opening.  

Customize the hearth dimensions to fit the scale of your dream entertainment space.   Include more details such as a television over the mantle, extend the chimney higher to achieve the draw your site requires, then cap it off with a spark-arresting chimney cap in black, stainless, or copper. 

Expert Tips!

  • Consider the architecture of the home for details to replicate on the fireplace, mantle, or chimney.
  • Use the height of a large fireplace to help screen prevailing winds.

Gas or Wood Burning Fireplaces

Outdoor Fireplace backyard entertainment

The construction and code requirements vary substantially between the two and some fire-hazard communities do not allow wood burning features at all. The fireplace should be close enough to the house for convenience of use, but should never present a safety hazard to the house, nearby structures or the neighborhood.  

A wood burning fireplace can be located almost anywhere in the backyard.  They are typically free-standing permanent structures that don’t require any utility connections.  A wood burning fireplace is cheaper to operate than a gas fireplace, offers a savory aroma, and puts out more heat, but it may not offer the same convenience.  A wood outdoor fireplace requires a chimney that’s large enough to provide an adequate draft to let the fire burn correctly. Wood burning fire features require a “spark arrestor” to reduce hot sparks from accidentally igniting your neighbor’s home.

A gas outdoor fireplace only requires proper venting.  A gas outdoor fireplace does not require a chimney which allows for a smaller fuel or vent pipe that will cost less money than a chimney.  A gas fireplace does need a gas line. If the fireplace is close to the house, a short gas line can be put in. If the fireplace is further away, have your local gas provider check the location to make sure there are no problems or restrictions with a new gas line.  The gas line has to be trenched and piped to a connection point at the house. On the downside, a gas fireplace displays faux logs with a gas flame. There’s no aroma and there’s no sound. However, a gas fireplace is easy to start and there is no need to chop or store wood.

Expert Tip!

  • Check local zoning and building codes before you start. Some communities do not allow wood burning fireplaces.

Round Grove Products makes outdoor fireplaces to meet all your design criteria. The Baha model design solely relies on gas log inserts or linear gas burners while all other models are designed for either gas-burning or wood-burning applications.

Outdoor living space with an outdoor focal point will draw you outdoors and provide entertainment and recreation space throughout the year.  Whether you choose to relax with family or entertain with friends, an outdoor living space will add years of outdoor enjoyment to your home. Before you decide to build your outdoor living space, take time to consider these factors and choose the best ones for your home.  Enjoy the experience of designing your dream space!!

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