25 Outdoor Fireplace Ideas to Light Up Your Backyard

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.

Is it expensive to build an outdoor fireplace?

We get it: Not everyone has the money 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.”

What is the best material to use for an outdoor fireplace?

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?”

How much does it cost to build an outdoor fireplace?

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.”

What is the most cost effective outdoor fireplace?

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.

How do you make outdoor fireplace seating comfortable?

Design ideas are one thing; creating an outdoor furniture set up that’s actually comfortable is another. “Our experience has been to get the seating as close around the fireplace as possible [within safe parameters] since it doesn’t project heat very far,” says Montecito, California–based landscape design wizard William Hefner, founder of Studio William Hefner. “It’s also nice to have light furniture that’s easy to pull up around the fire.”

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