Are you thinking about designing a fire pit in your backyard? There’s arguably no better way to extend your outdoor living space and encourage guests to stay and mingle a while.
Yet, this isn’t a project that you want to rush into without plenty of planning. By taking the time to envision your perfect space, you can create a real-life oasis that you love to retreat to at the end of every day.
Not sure where to start or how to begin? Today, we’re sharing 11 tips that can help you design and install a fire pit with ease!
1. Add Layers of Warmth
One common misconception that many homeowners make is that fire pits are strictly summertime installations. However, nothing could be further from the truth! There’s nothing like curling up by a warm fire on a brisk autumn night with your hands wrapped around a warm mug.
The key is to add plenty of warmth when installing a fire pit. Add built-in seats with cozy cushions so you don’t have to sit on cold brick or concrete. Keep a storage ottoman or footrest nearby and fill it with blankets, pillows, and even a few pairs of socks!
2. Turn It Into a Room
Home fire pits can absolutely stand on their own. In fact, they can be starkly beautiful when situated in the middle of a sprawling field or patio. However, you can make the area more luxurious by turning it into an actual, outdoor room.
Add a pergola overhead to create a little shade. Grow ivy or another cascading vine all around it to play up your landscape design. Scatter chairs, stools, and end tables all around to encourage conversation.
Blankets, throw pillows, and rugs can add warmth to the space, while accessories like metal art look beautiful on exposed exterior walls. The goal is to recreate the feeling you get inside of your home, even if you’re yards away from those living spaces.
The only rule?
You’ll need to position your fire pit at least 10 to 15 inches away from any combustible surface, such as a roof, tree, or patio shed. In addition, we also recommend cutting loosely-hanging limbs and branches away from the fire pit so they do not become entangled or catch fire.
3. Consider a Built-In Fire Pit
You can have a built-in fire pit or a portable one, depending on the size of your space and your personal preference. If you don’t want your fire pit to be on display all of the time, then consider building a sunken one.
With these models, the top of the fire pit will sit flush (or nearly flush) with the top of the ground. This way, it doesn’t obstruct the line of sight in your backyard, and it doesn’t stand out as a traditional focal point would. Many are even designed to be covered up in the off-season when not in use, so they truly blend in with your landscape!
If you go this route, make sure your in-ground fire pit is situated on flat, level ground. If you’re burning wood inside of it, then you may want to also keep a metal screen on hand when you use the pit. You can use the screen to bat away sparks, embers, and ash.
Don’t love the idea of a black cover taking up space in your yard when you want to conceal your sunken fire pit? Depending on the weight of the piece, you may be able to add a water feature or garden statue here instead!
While it might seem as though the weight of the statue would crush the fire pit, keep in mind that these are durable materials designed to withstand the weight.
4. Build It Into Your Deck
There are plenty of ways you can design seating around your fire pit. For instance, you may choose to build long banquette benches all the way around it, using the same material as the base of the pit itself.
This type of seating looks the most traditional and classic, though it’s best reserved for built-in fire pits. If yours is portable, then you might just add a few Adirondack chairs around the area for quick and easy seating.
Want to eliminate separate seating altogether? Think about building a deck around your fire pit. In addition to the pit, you can also designate separate spaces on the deck for an outdoor kitchen, lounging/conversing, and dining al fresco.
This way, there’s plenty of space to walk all the way around your fire pit. You can also add a ton more seating this way, so everyone gets a chance to sit back and relax.
5. Add Other Sources of Light
Want to give the illusion that your fire pit is in a large space when it really isn’t? Try to add a few different lighting sources around and near its base.
Look for lanterns of varying heights, as well as softly scented candles. Hang outdoor-safe patio lights on surfaces overhead.
Design your lighting with both form and function in mind. You need to illuminate certain spots to eliminate safety hazards, but you also want the space to look beautiful during the daytime. Avoid a ton of loose, hanging wires, and try to conceal cords whenever possible.
When the sun goes down, these will have a striking effect, especially situated near the fire pit. If you choose large-scale ones, they can make the spot appear bigger than it truly is!
6. Research Tabletop Models
Have you ever wished that your outdoor end table was just a little bigger? You’re trying to balance all of your s’mores ingredients in a tiny space, and marshmallows are falling all over the place. Meanwhile, your drink is on the floor by your feet, where it could get knocked over any minute.
Instead of buying bigger and better tables, why not purchase a fire pit that already comes equipped with a dining table that goes all the way around it? Tabletop models offer the ultimate in comfort and convenience, working just as their name implies.
Most of the time, these tables are designed to sit between six and eight people. However, you can find some longer tables big enough to accommodate a much larger crowd. Be sure to look for models that come with chairs to complete the full set.
With the click of one switch, you can turn on the fire pit, illuminating the faces of your dinner guests and jumpstarting an evening full of memories.
7. Understand Local Ordinances
Before you start designing and installing a fire pit at your home, take the time to understand all of your local codes and ordinances. In some neighborhoods throughout the country, fire pit regulations prohibit homeowners from having a fire pit on a residential property. Specific fire pit codes are often written into policies regarding outdoor burn guidelines or recreational fire rules.
Even if you get the green light to install one, it’s still smart to understand all of the legalities and restrictions that may come with the installation. For instance, if you belong to a community governed by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), you might be required to install your fire pit a certain number of feet from your home. Or, the HOA may limit you to a smaller size.
These aren’t cheap accessories, and you don’t want to pour time and money into yours only to be told that it violates a local rule and you must take it down. Reach out to the head of your HOA, or speak to other friends and community members to learn more about any steps that you need to take.
8. Get the Fuel Type Right
Traditional fire pits are made out of flame-resistant material and filled with firewood. If you crave the classic outdoor experience, then you can purchase firewood directly online, through a site like https://www.buyfirewooddirect.co.uk/.
There will always be a steady market for these ageless designs, which continue to get even better with age. However, there’s another type of fuel that you might not have considered yet.
Propane gas is easier to use and light than firewood. Once it gets going, it also burns relatively quickly. This way, you can start enjoying the heat as soon as possible!
Another benefit of a gas-powered fire pit is that it won’t produce smoke or ash. If you’ve ever come home from a cookout smelling like smoke, then this is one benefit you’ll definitely appreciate! Even if your local fire ordinances outlaw the use of a built-in fire pit, you may still be able to use a gas-powered alternative.
If you do decide to get a gas-powered fire pit, then be sure to select the correct size that you’ll need for the propane tank.
9. Know the Size You Need
If you’re purchasing a fire pit that’s already been pre-fabricated and ready to go, then you won’t be able to change its size once it arrives. That’s why it’s smart to browse all of the available options before you make a buying decision.
On the other hand, you’ll have complete say over how wide and tall yours is if you build it from scratch. While this step can be laborious and time-consuming, it gives you the opportunity to get the sizing right the first time.
Most of the smaller, pre-fab fire pits are between 20 inches and 25 inches in diameter. Larger models tend to range between 40 inches and 45 inches, though there are some models that are much larger in size and scope.
Before choosing a model, measure the space where you know that you want to install it. It’s easy to overestimate or underestimate how much room you really have and that’s one mistake you can’t afford to make.
10. Budget For Materials
The materials you choose for outdoor fire pits matter. This is the surface that your guests will see as soon as they look over at the installation. You want them to see a sleek look that mimics your personal decorating style and extends it outdoors.
Will you choose tiles and brick? What about stones or stainless steel?
Whichever material piques your interest, you’ll need to do a little homework before you buy. Understand how the materials are sized and purchased, and the number of boxes you will need. As you might expect, there are some materials that are more expensive and difficult to find.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your hope of owning them. Create and stick to a household budget that clearly demonstrates where you’re spending money each month, and some of the unnecessary purchases you may need to avoid to reach your savings goals quicker.
When choosing a material for your fire pit, look for one that’s easy to clean and won’t show smudges. Many homeowners opt for stainless steel, mostly because it looks contemporary and modern.
11. Consider Hiring a Professional
If you purchase a portable, above-ground fire pit from the hardware store, then you should be able to assemble and install it yourself. These are designed to be user-friendly and easy to assemble. However, we don’t recommend taking on the challenge of digging your own in-ground fire pit.
A local landscaping company will be able to help you draw out plans and build the space out correctly. They’ll be familiar with city zoning laws and can make sure your fire pit is beautiful, functional, and compliant with all regulations.
Designing a Fire Pit You Love
Designing a fire pit can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Rather than rushing into it, take the time to figure out the look that you want. Then, you can purchase materials to bring that look to life.
Once you’ve found the right spot, think about whether a portable or permanent fire pit makes the most sense. Then, hire a designer or install one yourself. Countless nights of family fun await!
Looking for more advice on how to transform your home into your own personal oasis? Check out our Lifestyle guides!