Even in South Florida, you can warm up to out­door ‘fire­place’

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Residences South - Deb­bie Travis

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.

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