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Stone fire pit NYAs cooler weather approaches, have you thought about how to embrace that nip in the air and extend the life of your outdoor living space into the late fall, maybe even winter months?

Here’s an idea: Add fire.

A structural element like a built-in fireplace or portable fire pit will add warmth, a beautiful glow and an elegant sense of style to your backyard living area year round, whether you’re using the space to chat with friends fireside long into the night or making s’mores with the kids.

As with most pieces of your outdoor living space, there are as many choices and refinements in this category as there are homeowners personalities and style preferences. But there are two basic options (with a lot of variation in between): built-in fireplaces and standalone, portable fire pits. Here’s a look at what makes each choice stand out.

Built-In Fireplaces

Stone outdoor built-in fireplace NYIf you’ve created a sense of permanence in your outdoor living space, with lots of hardscaping, a shade structure or even an outdoor kitchen, you might like to take it one step further by building a fireplace. A built-in fireplace fosters an intimate, homey feeling and can encourage lively conversation among a small group of people.

Built-in fireplaces are also protected from the elements, especially wind that can blow embers and smoke in your guests’ faces. (It’s also easier to light a fireplace that’s shielded from the wind!)

Depending on your budget and preferences, you can fuel your built-in fireplace with wood or attach it to your home gas line. And as you begin to dream up what it’ll look like, there are plenty of considerations for materials: brick, slate, tile, marble… you can match your built-in fireplace to the rest of your hardscape or create a beautiful focal point. Aesthetically, there are no limits!

A bonus for fiscally minded homeowners: Installing a built-in fireplace that’s well maintained can add huge value to your outdoor living space and, by extension, your entire home.

Portable Fire Pits

john-t-unger portable fire pit NYYour second option gives you a bit more backyard flexibility. Portable fire pits go — and can be moved — anywhere and offer all-angle access, which means capacity for a bigger crowd and more space to roast those marshmallows.

There’s also plenty of design freedom with a portable fire pit: A built-in fireplace can limit you to a certain type of stone, but fire pits can be anything from industrial to elegant to suit your style and personality! They’re available in metal, mesh, stone and even polished copper.

But the biggest benefit of a portable fire pit may be its utter convenience. It stows out of the way when you’re not using it, and you can move it easily to accommodate more guests. It’s also far less of a hassle to empty and clean.

Need a little help settling on the style of your outdoor living area’s fire element? Get in touch with one of our landscape designers at (845) 463-0592. You can also leave your burning design questions in the comments — or find us on Facebook! — and we’ll ask our design team to tackle them.

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