On chilly Fall nights, what’s more appealing than sipping a warm drink in front of a fireplace in the backyard?
If I were to take on a single project that would add a dimension to our exterior living space, that would be an outdoor fireplace. Because our area has a legacy of stone houses, many older residences have picturesque masonry fireplaces which are ideal for use during the cool autumn, winter and spring months. A rustic stone fireplace, like one at a spa in Quebec [top] is a particular inspiration for me. It’s not too large yet it has a rough-hewn country aura and near storybook presence, especially in the snow.
In a Los Angeles area home, designer Jeff Andrews created a round outdoor fireplace – a fire pit I suppose — that reminds me of smaller pre-fab styles in home and hearth stores. But the cast concrete construction of this fireplace – with its matching concrete bench – keeps it modern and customized. Judging from the lava rocks, which radiate heat, I suspect this is gas fueled. While gas may seem less romantic than the notion of building a real fire. it’s practical in balmy Southern California where wood-to-burn can be hard to find. Gas fuel is also prudent in a wildfire zone.
An architectural approach to an outdoor fireplace uses a low-profile, horizontal fire box with a wall-size sheet of COR-TEN steel as a back guard. Often used for sculptures, the composition of the steel gives it a natural rust-like appearance along with weathering ability. It also will absorb and radiate heat from the fire and each use creates and changes the steel’s living finish which enhances the cool minimalist look.