Outdoor Fire Features For Outdoor Living Areas

Table of Contents

    Expand the charm and functionality of your outdoor living area with a fire feature. The addition of a fire brings another design dimension to life. We’ve learned about form and function in our previous Outdoor living posts, now we’ll explain the distinctive details of an outdoor living design that take your space to the next level.

    Movement = Life

    Fire and water bring a design concept called “movement” into well-designed outdoor living spaces. The concept utilizes the ever-moving form of fire or water to draw people to a space. Envision the mesmerized look people get when they watch a fire or the flow of water over a waterfall. This movement provides a sense of “life” to an otherwise, single dimension space.

    Fire features bring the design concept of movement to life when they’re being used AND they bring the function of additional heat for extended use.

    Type of Element

    Fire features are often a fire pit or fireplace. There is a third category for fire features that would best be described as custom accents. The custom accent features may be fire/water combos, fire pillars, fire tables, or visual features in an element like a pool back-drop. We’ll discuss accents in an upcoming article.

    For the purposes of this educational piece, we’re focusing on fire pits and fire places. Once you’ve decided you’d like to add some warmth to your space, you need to consider what you’re envisioning.

    Fire Pits

    Pro’s: Shape often allows for people to sit around the element and converse while enjoying the warmth. Fire pits are commonly a smaller level of investment. They’re also easier to fit into design concepts. Fire pits can be made of wall-stone, stone-veneered, cast-iron, custom concrete, or out of boulders. Gas features will cost more, but are typically more safe. Wood burning can cause embers. Fire pits range in price from $800 to $7500 depending upon size, material, and gas vs. wood.

    Fire Places

    Pro’s: Fireplaces often act as a focal point in designs, so they’re both functional and hold high aesthetic value. Fire places can act a barrier or privacy screen as well. They provide a sense of separation or easy creation of outdoor rooms. Much like fire pits, fire places can also be gas or wood burning. Gas features do require a larger investment, but do offer the convenience of very little cleaning and increased safety. A gas feature can sometimes run between $2000 and $3000 more than wood burning. Fortunately, most outdoor fireplaces have a spark arrestor to prevent embers. Investment level depend upon size, material, heat source, and upgrades like wood boxes on the sides. Fire places can range in price between $11,000 and $30,000 with the average fireplace being about $16,000.

    As you and your designer discuss which type of feature works for you and your visions there are some important design considerations you must be aware of:

    1. Consider wind directions when picking the placement of your fire feature. Direct wind can cause inconsistencies in your flame, push embers in undesirable directions, affect overall performance of your features. Always ensure this is considered.
    2. Clearance from the flame: Ensure that your fire feature has clearance directly above and is far enough from any structures to meet local codes. In many Kansas City suburbs, wood burning fire features must be at least 25’ from a house.
    3. Convenience: Some clients prefer the traditional smells and sounds of a wood burning fire. Others prefer gas for the safety and convenience of use. Take a minute to picture yourself using the feature. Will you haul wood and clean the ashes? Don’t invest in something if you genuinely won’t get value from it.

    Get your Kansas City outdoor fire place or fire pit project started today – contact High Prairie Outdoors.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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