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How to Keep Some Summer in Your Winter – Part 3: Fireplaces


If you’ve already expanded your living space to include the outdoors, then you know what an amenity-fueled backyard does for your relaxation and entertainment pursuits! The only potential downside is that there’s not much climate control! So, you may think you need to shut down this oasis for the winter.

There are however cost-effective ways to keep your alfresco retreat a viable option essentially all year long. Even if you live in snow-bound Michigan or Wisconsin! A dip in your backyard swimming pool may not be on the agenda, but you can create a glowing focal point with an outdoor fireplace while adding multi-season enjoyment to this versatile space.

Social media platforms tend to showcase the flashy fireplaces of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Although you may not be able to compete with the custom-built behemoth in Bruce Springsteen’s backyard, there are all kinds of ways to create radiant ambiance. There’s a vast array of shapes, sizes, purposes, aesthetics, and even DIY alternatives for outdoor fireplaces.

Eight Great Tips About Backyard Fireplaces

  1. No Construction Hassles

Most of us have lived through the woes of home construction. It can make for a loud and messy nightmare. This home improvement on the other hand will add special nuance by giving depth to an outdoor space without the hassle of invasive indoor construction.

  1. Return on Investment

Because it’s not an incredibly expensive project that can be installed quickly, a fireplace is also a sought-after home feature that will make your home stand out when ready for resale… which is the definition of a good home improvement investment.

  1. Gas vs Wood Burning

Just like deciding between a chlorine and a saltwater pool, this decision is fundamental to the cost and purpose of the fireplace.

A wood burning fireplace gives that truly rustic vibe with that campfire/s’mores/hotdog roasting feel. These also tend to be less expensive and a little simpler to install.

A gas burning fireplace is just as warm and welcoming while being easier to use. They just tend to be expensive depending on how far into your backyard the gas line needs to be run.

As with any home improvement, make certain the appropriate permits are pulled and that the proper placement is confirmed, so you are not building a structure on an easement for example. Also note that some cities and towns have environmental restrictions about burning wood, so be certain to clear that before you spend any money or break ground.

  1. Going Prefab

As we are fond of saying, even if you go with a generic, prefab, fiberglass pool, that doesn’t mean it’s going to look like everyone else’s. No two fiberglass pools look alike. The nuances come from your deck treatment, your surrounding landscaping, and the way you decorate with your outdoor furniture.

It’s the same with fireplaces. A custom built-in fireplace would be lovely, but if cost is an issue, don’t let it stand in your way when a perfectly fine prefab or freestanding model will give you, your family and friends, years of enjoyment. All you need to do is make it your own. (The experts at HGTV serve up their gallery of 20 Cozy Outdoor Fireplaces.)

  1. Built-in vs Freestanding

Once you start looking around at the zillion alternatives for outdoor fireplaces, you’ll see that besides confirming compliance with local zoning, etc. restrictions, you want to look at how you’ll use the space. Do you want this area to be an outdoor family room? With a gazebo overhead, a wet bar, and a flat screen TV for watching sports?

In other words, are you creating a destination or just a little enclave where you can relax with wine or hot cider?

The gurus at The Spruce share their thoughts for the Best Outdoor Fireplaces of 2021. They say, “An outdoor fireplace is a smart and stylish way to warm up your patio to extend the days you can enjoy your outdoor living room.”

  1. Speaking of Style

Like most homes, your backyard retreat is a work in progress. Everything needn’t be done in a day! It’s great to be able to plan what you’d like to accomplish from year to year. If done right, an eclectic mix of styles and colors and materials can really make a backyard pop. (It’s like in interior design when you select three complementary patterns to work off each other.)

Still, we recommend using your home as a reference to determine how to outfit everything else. For example, if you have a craftsman style home, you may not want to add a super-modern infinity edge pool to your yard. Contrasts are great, but your home and yard will look more cohesive if you consider the sensibilities that already exist, and work off them.

Like pools, fireplaces are compelling centerpieces. While one shimmers, one sizzles. Integrating all your elements will make it look like your haven was done in a day! Because all the pieces will complete each other to create a seamless picture.

  1. Safety First

Whether you’re conforming with local ordinances for pool safety with fencing and monitor installation, selecting the best spot for your fireplace needs some consideration.

Even though the fire in your fireplace is contained, there’s no reason to look for trouble.

If you’ve found the ideal place but there are plantings and fencing adjacent, you will want to reconsider placement or relocate those items that can easily catch fire. Laying down a fireproof flooring or a cement/gravel surround is a priority. Also, check local fire safety codes for best practices.

  1. DIY Hearths

If you are not ready to make the commitment to having a fireplace professionally installed, you can DIY it with a wood-burning fire pit. With some concrete pavers and fire brick you can build your own. Start small and simple if you want. When you fall in love, then you can make the investment. (For now, the pros at DIY Network are here to help!)

Backyard Fireplaces

Accented with welcoming seating and rich textiles, you can create a very special niche for celebrations with family and friends while treating yourself to an investment with a great return.

And ICYMI, here’s Part One and Part Two of this series on hot tubs and firepits. Coming up… spas!

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves fireplaces and the way they help us gather together. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.