An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is a great place to gather with your friends and family, roast marshmallows, share stories and enjoy an evening under the stars in your Orange County, NY home. Both will add value to your home and provide an aesthetic focal point for outdoor areas, but which is best suited for you and your home? Here are some pointers to help you decide which is right for you.
The number of guests you intend to have huddled around a fire should give you a good indication of whether a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace is the answer for you. It goes without saying that given their open structure, fire pits will allow heat for more people. You’ll also be able to burn more wood and get a bigger fire going than if you’re restricted to the confines of a fireplace. Permanent seating is also easier to arrange for a fire pit and allows for some impressive hardscaping designs (but this is also true for a fireplace). On the other hand, if a cozier, more intimate setting is what you’re after, (e.g. an outdoor room near your swimming pool) a fireplace might be a better option for you.
If you’re looking to make better use of your yard or forgotten stretch of lawn, a fire pit is the way to go. Just remember, to be enjoyed, fire pits need ventilation. Lots of it. Out on the open lawn or built into your patio is the perfect place for a fire pit, but smaller yards and built up outside areas may benefit more from a fireplace and a chimney that funnels the smoke up and out. The advantage of outdoor fireplaces is that they can be built closer to the home without too much smoke getting inside. As a bonus, fireplaces provide shielding from the wind that fire pits do not.
Both can look incredible, and both bring different visual elements to play. Fire pits work well in backyards where a large fireplace might overpower other essential landscape elements, and create a balanced sense of scale in smaller yards. Fire pits are also ideal if a larger structure would impede a view. Fire pits are considered part of the landscape and as such can be used to complement and highlight aspects of your outdoor area. Fireplaces, on the other hand, can be considered extensions of your home’s architecture and can be used to bring elements of your home’s interior outside or highlight aspects of your home’s façade. Related: Material Choices For Your Outdoor Fireplace.
Other things to consider
Safety - If you have small children or pets, a fireplace is usually a safer option. Fireplaces can be built with elevation, ensuring that it’s kept out of reach of animals and curious kids.
Cost – If cost is your concern, the fire pit wins hands down. With a simpler design, fewer structural needs, and fewer material requirements, fire pits are a lot less expensive.
Privacy – Being open, fire pits don’t allow for much privacy or wind protection. Fireplaces on the other hand can either be built onto an existing wall or built with a back wall specially designed for privacy and wind shielding.