Outdoor Fireplace Ideas: Inviting and Relaxing Backyard Designs

An outdoor fireplace can be the perfect way to create an inviting and relaxing backyard retreat. Not only does an outdoor fireplace provide warmth on cool evenings, but it also creates an intimate setting for entertaining and relaxing. With so many design options available, there are outdoor fireplaces to suit any taste and fit beautifully into any backyard.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Fireplace Design

When planning an outdoor fireplace, the first decision is choosing a design that fits your needs and yard. Key considerations include:

Built-In or Freestanding

Built-in fireplaces are integrated into an existing patio or retaining wall, creating a polished, custom look. Freestanding fireplaces offer more flexibility in placement, although extra materials are needed to construct an outer wall.

Fuel Type

Wood-burning fireplaces have a classic appeal but do require an onsite wood supply. Gas fireplaces offer easier maintenance with the convenience of flipping a switch, although real wood fires possess an authentic ambiance.


Popular fireplace materials include stone or brick masonry, natural rock, and cultured stone veneers. Consider durability, cost, aesthetics, and maintenance when comparing options.

Size and Design

Larger fireplaces make a bigger statement, while more compact units can fit into tighter spaces. Fireplaces come in a range of geometric shapes, some with elaborate details like built-in seating.

Chimney or Fire Pit

A chimney-style fireplace puts off more directed radiant heat, while an open fire pit design fosters social gathering around a cozy fire. Both options work well in backyard designs.

Safety Features

Be sure to check local codes and include important safety features like spark screens, heat-resistant walls or columns, and adequate ventilation.

Considering these factors will help narrow down the choices to find the ideal outdoor fireplace design for your yard.

Fabulous Fireplace Design Ideas

From rustic wood-burning fireplaces to sleek gas-burning models, there are countless options for creating an eye-catching focal point in your yard. Here are some fabulous design ideas to spark your imagination:

Stone Fireplace with Chimney

For an elegant, timeless look, a natural stone fireplace with a tapered chimney is a superb choice. Bluestone, fieldstone, and native rock all make stunning fireplace materials. Include built-in benches on either side for cozy seating.

Brick Pizza Oven Fireplace

Take your outdoor entertaining to the next level with a brick pizza oven built right into your fireplace. Friends and family will love gathering around the fire to bake homemade pizzas. Choose colorful bricks to add cheer to your backyard.

Modern Gas Fire Column

A fire column fueled by gas offers contemporary style and convenience. Designs range from sleek stainless steel to faux stone enclosures. The tall, linear shape adds height to outdoor spaces.

In-Ground Sunken Fire Pit

For a low-profile fire, consider an in-ground fire pit. Lining the inside with fire brick or lava rock allows for air flow and drainage. Some sunken pits have an outer wall for extra seating.

Stacked Stone Fireplace

A multi-layered stacked stone fireplace makes a bold statement. Mix stones of varying shapes and colors for a textured look. Extend the stone to create a surrounding patio area that ties the design together.

Rectangular Block Fireplace

The clean lines of a rectangular cinder block fireplace lend a modern, minimalist look. Paint the blocks in neutral black or gray for an ultra-contemporary vibe. Use a steel grill as a spark screen.

Rustic Wood-Burning Fireplace

A rustic, wood-burning fireplace made from roughly-hewn natural stone and timber beams exudes cozy cabin charm. Add a mantel made from a split log for hanging cooking pots and lights.

Corner Fireplace with Seating

Maximize patio space by tucking a masonry fireplace into a corner. Extend the hearth for L-shaped built-in seating so multiple people can enjoy the fire.

Fireplace with Pizza Oven and Grill

For the ultimate backyard chef’s paradise, opt for a masonry fireplace with built-in pizza oven, grill, and smoker. Cook up pizza, BBQ, and more, all from the same central station.

Fireplace with Chiminea Accents

Add a Southwestern vibe by flanking a stucco fireplace with decorative chimineas. Choose colorful tile and Talavera pottery accents for a vibrant, festive look.

The possibilities are virtually endless when designing a custom outdoor fireplace. Visit backyard galleries or use tools like Houzz for inspiration to discover your perfect fireplace style.

Ideal Materials for Outdoor Fireplaces

The materials used to construct an outdoor fireplace significantly influence both aesthetics and functionality. Choose materials that are high-quality, durable, and design-forward. Here are some top options:

Natural Stone

For a classic, upscale look, natural quarried stone is a fantastic choice. Granite, bluestone, travertine, and fieldstone all make stunning fireplace veneers. Opt for a textured, stacked pattern.

Manufactured Stone

Cultured stone offers the look of natural stone at a lower cost. Made from concrete, it comes in a diverse array of rock patterns. Use manufactured stone for a budget-friendly fireplace.


Brick is a versatile and attractive fireplace material. It brings traditional charm, resists weather, and comes in range of colors, textures, finishes. Mix bricks for a textured look or lay in geometric patterns.


For a sleek, contemporary veneer, consider stucco. Ideal for Southwest themes, it can be tinted, textured, or painted. Use accents like tile or metal for interest.

Concrete Masonry Units

A cost-effective option, concrete masonry units (CMUs) can be left raw or painted/stained for customized looks. They withstand heat well. Use textured blocks or a rock-faced finish for character.


With its organic shapes, rich colors and textures, flagstone lends a free-flowing, natural look to fireplaces. Choose varying sizes and thicknesses for visual interest. It also makes a lovely hearth material.

Fire Brick or Refractory Panels

Lining the inner fire chamber with fire brick protects surrounding materials from heat damage. Fire brick comes in classic reds or neutrals like buff, gray, black.


For contemporary flair, metal finishes like stainless steel, copper, bronze can create a sleek, sculptural fireplace exterior. Use metal elements like screens, doors, trim.

Mixing natural stone with manufactured veneers or accents of metal, tile, or timber can yield stylish, one-of-a-kind outdoor fireplace designs.

Perfect Placement Tips for Outdoor Fireplaces

Proper placement is key to maximizing both the enjoyment and function of your outdoor fireplace. Follow these expert tips:

Allow Ample Clearance

Position the fireplace away from trees and overhangs with a clearance of at least 10 feet above and to the sides. This prevents sparks from igniting vegetation.

Consider Prevailing Winds

Site the fireplace so smoke and embers blow away from the house. Prevailing winds in your region will influence the ideal position.

Enable Proper Ventilation

Good airflow is essential for safety and performance. Don’t jam the fireplace into a tight corner – allow space around it to ventilate properly.

Focus on View Lines

Angles allowing prime fire viewing take priority. Face the fireplace towards patios or activity areas so guests can enjoy the flames.

Add Wind Blocks if Needed

In exposed yards, construct simple walls or fences behind the unit to block gusts that can disrupt fires.

Follow Local Building Codes

Adhere to all codes for required clearances to property lines, spacing between freestanding walls, and any permits needed.

Access Fuel and Utilities

Allow room behind the fireplace for accessing wood storage, gas lines, or electrical, depending on the fuel type.

Allow Room to Circulate

Position the fireplace with enough space in front and to the sides for people to comfortably move around it.

Consider Furniture Layouts

Picture furniture like patio seating to ensure optimal fire viewing angles. Site it appropriately.

With mindful placement and adequate spacing, your outdoor fireplace will provide a welcoming gathering place for years to come.

Designing an Outdoor Living Space Around a Fireplace

A thoughtfully designed outdoor living space centered around a fireplace creates an extension of your home’s living area. Here are some key design tips:

Define Separate Zones

Create zones for cooking, conversing, dining, and relaxing. Position furniture to enjoy fire views.

Include Comfortable Seating

Place benches, chairs, and sofas around the fire to create an intimate feel. Use weather-resistant fabrics.

Select Durable Patio Materials

Choose materials like stone, brick, or concrete pavers to withstand heat and match the fireplace.

Incorporate Decor Touches

Decorate with fireproof pillows, rugs, lanterns and plants to make the space inviting.

Add Ambient Lighting

Install lighting like pendant lights and path lights to provide visibility and ambiance after dark.

Consider an Overhead Structure

A pergola, trellis or canopy adds architectural interest and gives shelter from sun or rain.

Include a Prep Station

Having a built-in BBQ grill, mini fridge, and counter space nearby is convenient for entertaining.

Extend the Theme

Echo fireplace materials like stone or brick as design details throughout the space for cohesion.

Fabulous Fireplace Features to Enhance Enjoyment

Beyond the essentials, there are many fabulous features to consider incorporating into your outdoor fireplace design. These details enhance both aesthetics and functionality:

Built-In Seating

Benches, ledges, and hearths extending from the fireplace double as seating for guests to relax fireside.

Internal Fire Shelf

A shelf inside the firebox holds logs securely in place for cleaner burns and easier loading.

Blower Fan

A blower fan aids combustion and airflow for maximum heat and flame. It also cuts down on lingering smoke.

Adjustable Cooking Grill

Height adjustable grills allow for versatile cooking options right over the open fire.

Decorative Doors

Adding metal doors or screens safely contains sparks and embers when the fireplace is not in use.

Overhead Rain Guard

A metal canopy above the fireplace will keep it usable during a light drizzle.

Side Mantels

Flanking mantels provide a spot for lanterns, vases, or other decorative accents.

Custom Signage

Add character by having your family name, address, or a mantra sandblasted into the façade.

Gas Starter

A gas igniter makes starting wood fires easy with the flip of a switch. No need for messy starter logs.

Removable Spark Screen

A removable mesh screen allows for open fire ambiance with quick safety containment when needed.

Choosing the Safest Setup

Safety should always be the number one priority when installing an outdoor fireplace. Follow these tips:

Select Quality Materials

Choose fire-rated bricks, heat-resistant finishes, and metals rated for high temperatures.

Include Vents

Proper ventilation of smoke and embers is critical to prevent fast-spreading fires.

Add Spark Screens

Mesh screens contain dangerous sparks and embers, a leading cause of outdoor fires.

Check on Overhangs

Avoid positioning under branches or rooflines to prevent igniting dry debris.

Keep Fire Extinguisher Handy

Have proper fire extinguishing tools on hand in case of emergency.

Keep It On Level Ground

Situate the fireplace on flat, stable soil or bedrock to prevent shifting and cracking.

Don’t Use Accelerants

Never use gasoline, kerosene or similar liquids which can cause dangerous flare-ups.

Install Gas and Electric Properly

If using gas or electric, have certified technicians hook up to code to avoid hazards.

Follow All Local Codes

Adhere to city and county regulations, including permits, zoning laws, clearance rules, etc.

Don’t Leave Unattended

Always extinguish the fire completely before leaving it unattended.

By making safety the top concern, you’ll protect your investment and prevent potential disasters.

Cleverly Integrating an Outdoor Fireplace Into the Landscape

One of the keys to creating a cohesive backyard retreat is integrating the outdoor fireplace seamlessly into the landscape design. Try these clever techniques:

Repeat Hardscape Materials

Use the same stone, brick or concrete on pathways and walls to echo the fireplace design.

Add Matching Plantings

Select plants like grasses and perennials featuring the fireplace colors for pretty pairings.

Use Transition Pieces

Connect a stone fireplace visually to a paver patio by using the same stone as bordering edgers.

Extend the Structure Outward

Flanking wing walls that gradually step down from the fireplace help blend it with terraced walls.

Mimic the Silhouette

Incorporate similar shapes like rough arcs or clean lines throughout the landscape.

Frame it With Foliage

Plantings beside or behind the fireplace make it appear artfully nested rather than stark.

Create a Coordinated Scene

Combine colors, textures, and materials that complement one another for a cohesive effect.

Enhance With Surrounding Water Features

The soothing sound and movement of water near the fireplace softens the hardscape.

Highlight With Strategic Lighting

Upwash and downwash lighting showcase the fireplace dramatically after dusk.

With strategic design choices, you can make a fireplace feel like a natural extension of the landscape for superior style.

Bringing the Indoors Out With a Backyard Fireplace

Outdoor rooms centered around a welcoming fireplace design are the perfect way to bring cherished elements of indoor living into your backyard.

Choose Furnishings With Personality

Select chairs, lounges, and side tables that reflect your interior decorating taste for continuity.

Add Dramatic Lighting

Suspended pendant lights, spot lighting, and candles cast a cozy glow over the space after dark.

Display Meaningful Decor

Place special books, photos, sentimental objects, and plants for personal flair.

Incorporate Area Rugs

Scatter weatherproof rugs for softness underfoot and to define separate living zones.

Provide Plush Seating

Upholstered cushions, pillows, and comfortable patio furniture encourage relaxation.

Offer Warming Throws

Provide baskets of soft blankets so guests can ward off evening chills in style.

Serve Signature Drinks

Set up a beverage station with your favorite wines, beers, or cocktail fixings.

Let Music Set the Mood

Pipe in your favorite playlists, or add speakers for impromptu jam sessions.

Get Cooking

The fireplace is the ideal spot for casual outdoor grilling, roasting marshmallows or simmering stews.

FAQs About Designing an Outdoor Fireplace:

What is the average cost to install an outdoor fireplace?

The average cost can range anywhere from $2,000-$4,500 depending on the materials, size, and type of construction. Custom designed stone or brick masonry fireplaces tend to fall at the higher end, while prefabricated units cost less.

What is the best material for outdoor fireplace construction?

Natural stone and brick are premium materials that offer timeless beauty, durability, and heat resistance. Manufactured stone veneers provide a budget-friendly alternative. Metal, concrete, and stucco can also be nice options.

What features increase the functionality of an outdoor fireplace?

Helpful features to consider include adjustable grills for cooking,built-in storage for wood or propane tanks, circulating fans, rain guards or covers, spark screens, gas ignition systems, and internal shelves for holding logs in place.

What are the minimum clearance requirements for outdoor fireplaces?

It’s recommended to allow at least 10 feet of clearance above the chimney and 2-5 feet of clearance around the sides and back depending on your local building codes. Always position away from overhanging branches.

How much patio space do you need for a fireplace seating area?

Ideally allow 15-25 feet out from the fireplace opening for a typical seating area that accommodates 4-6 chairs in a half-moon pattern facing the fireplace. For larger seating arrangements, extend about 30-40 feet out.

What is the best way to start a fire in an outdoor wood-burning fireplace?

Begin with dry kindling and crisscrossed newspaper topped with small dry logs to allow for plenty of airflow. Never use gasoline, kerosene or other accelerants which can be dangerous.

Can you convert a wood-burning fireplace to gas?

Yes, an existing wood-burning fireplace can be retrofitted to burn gas with the installation of a gas burner insert and the necessary fuel line and valve. Always have this done by a qualified technician to ensure safety.

How far should seating be placed from the fire?

For safety and comfort, chairs and benches should be positioned 4-6 feet away from the front opening. This allows people to feel the warmth without being uncomfortably hot or getting hit by popping sparks.

Should you hire a contractor to install an outdoor fireplace?

Yes, it’s advisable to hire an experienced masonry or landscape contractor for any built-in fireplace construction. Prefabricated units can potentially