Even in South Florida, you can warm up to outdoor ‘fireplace’
It’s glorious summer, and we are all taking advantage of the living space that we gain with warm weather and a backyard.
The barbecue is set up, lounge chairs are arranged and flowers are blooming.
If you are thinking about enhancing your outdoor paradise with a fireplace, here are some tips and trends that will not only create instant ambience, but will also extend the time you can comfortably sit outside.
Before you choose the fireplace of your dreams, check into your area fire codes to find out what type of outdoor fire you are permitted to burn. Regulations differ from region to region, and are set in place for everyone’s protection.
One of the fastest growing trends today is outdoor fire pits and fire bowls. There are portable styles manufactured from copper, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, clay or ceramics. They can be set up on the ground or raised on a stone ledge, and smaller styles placed on tabletops. If you are looking for an affordable, low-maintenance outdoor fire, this is a great investment.
Outdoor fire pits and fire bowls use two types of fuel: wood or gas/propane. As with indoor styles, the gas fires come with ceramic logs or lava rocks to promote a realistic view. Depending on where you live and what fuel is available, you may have the option of burning wood pellets, or corn.
Denatured ethanol is another fuel option that has propelled the design of a new line of fireplaces for use inside and out. Ethanol fireplaces can be placed in a wall or open space. Ethanol is a clean-burn fuel, so it doesn’t require a chimney. Derived from plants, when ethanol is burned its emissions are small amounts of water and carbon dioxide with no harmful or toxic substances. Ethanolburning fireplaces can be set up in a fixed location such as a wall or table, or are easily portable. Bio-Blaze’s black column fire shown here has wheels. The fuel is stored in a small liquid fuel tank. The window on top of the column protects the flame from wind and rain.
Traditional stone fireplaces require more planning. They should be included in the overall architectural or landscaping layout of your garden. Any size fireplace is a natural focal point. A large stone fireplace complete with chimney can stand on its own, or be incorporated into a retaining wall or garden privacy wall. If you have an indoor fireplace on an exterior wall, you may be able to share the chimney.
Augment the usefulness of a big fireplace by raising the hearth and building ledges for seating.
Add a mantel or upper ledges and line up (covered) candles or hurricane lanterns to increase the glow.
Large fireplace structures also can be decorated with plants and ivies, but make sure that leaves and flowers stay clear of vents and the open fire box. All types of fireplaces provide heat. The amount of heat varies with different styles and fuels.
Propane patio heaters are readily available, stand tall and work well. Cool nights will never again change your outdoor living plans.
Debbie Travis is a King Features columnist.
Before installing any kind of outdoor fireplace, check your local building codes to find out what is permitted.