A fire pit instantly becomes the spot where everyone wants to gather. If you’re planning on adding this must-have element to your backyard, these tips will help you create a welcoming outdoor living space with a fire pit as a focal point.
Location, location, location…
Unless you’re going for a contemporary symmetrical look or you’re working with a lot of space, don’t place the fire pit in the center of the patio, but offset to one side. You can balance the design with other heavy elements, such as an arbor, tree, water feature or outdoor bar. You will also want to pay attention to the wind patterns in your yard to place the fire pit in the location that will most likely draw any smoke away from the center. This is particularly important with a wood-burning fire pit. It’s also wise to investigate whether there are any regulations in your neighborhood or municipality regarding fire feature placement. It should be easily accessible, but not too close to the home. A good rule of thumb, especially with wood-burning pits, is to place the pit ten feet or more from any structure.
Make room for everyone
Once the fire is lit, people will tend to gather around it. In terms of space, you will want to plan for seating that will allow for both group settings or cozy, intimate one-on-one time. A fire pit itself is rarely larger than four or five feet across. The patio space around it should be an additional four to six feet on all sides. Seat walls are a great way to both visually define the space and allow for lots of seating. But don’t enclose the space completely with walls. It’s nice to leave room for chairs, standing and foot traffic. Also think ahead to how you plan to decorate. For example, if you’re choosing low-slung seating such as Adirondack chairs, realize that they will take up extra real estate and plan accordingly.
Create conversation zones
It’s highly unlikely that people will sit around the fire pit to eat on a regular basis. You will want a separate dining space for that. Plus, for better entertaining, it’s a great idea create multiple conversation zones around the patio where separate groups can gather for more intimate conversation. Some people will feel comfortable picking a spot where they can stay all evening, while the social butterflies will flit from zone to zone engaging in multiple conversations throughout the night.
Gas or wood? Why not both?
Some people prefer gas — fewer code restrictions on placement, no ashes to contend with, no smoke, no wood to buy or chop. Other’s prefer wood — earthy smell, more robust flames, more warmth, more traditional campfire aesthetic. For those who enjoy the pros of both scenarios and live in a community that doesn’t restrict wood-burning features, consider a hybrid fire pit that allows for both gas and wood. The gas can be used as a starter and can even be hooked up to a smart system, which makes it easier to get the party going. Plus, the fire doesn’t have to go out when you run out of wood.
Soften the space
To make your space comfy and cozy, soften the space with pillows, throws, decorative accessories and organic design elements. Landscaping or a water feature behind seating adds wonderful dimensional texture to the design and adds a sense of privacy. Decorative elements add personality to the space and help create an outdoor living room aesthetic. Pillows and throws soften the space both visually and physically, also allowing you to tie in with the colors used elsewhere on your patio to make the overall design more cohesive. You can also use paver patterns to create a faux rug paver design.
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I thought you made a good point when you talked about how it is important to create a dining space that is separate from a fire pit. My wife and I want to build a deck onto our house soon so that we can have a place to relax in the evenings. It would probably be a good idea to find the right kind of furniture to put on the deck as well.
Excellent explanation, it’s simple & focus. Keep up the great work!
It was essential when you recommended making a dining space that is separate from a fire pit for better entrance. My family and I just moved into a new house that doesn’t have a patio, so we really want to get one built so we have a place to spend time together outside. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind when trying to have the perfect patio built for my home.
I appreciate the ideas for making it a cozier space by using pavers and pillows to decorate it and make it feel nice. We’re thinking of upgrading our yard this year and want to include a firepit we could sit at in the evening. Talking about what sort of design we each enjoy would help us get something we’ll be satisfied with for a long time.
I really love your advice to add some pillows and colorful decorations to help add a personal touch and a sense of coziness. I would love to create a fun, fancy outdoor patio with a firepit. I love your designs, but I think I want more color. I wonder if I could get a decorative outdoor stool and some pillows to help add to my space to create that fun mood you talked about.
I’d like to know more about the gas wood burning hybrid fire element. I can’t find anything comparable using internet searches.
I love the seating area and fire pit shown for “gas or wood” section of article. Does it have a name?
The only way to do this is to install a gas log lighter. This is definitely something you need a plumber for and it MUST be stainless steel. Click here for an example.
I like your suggestion to create “conversation zones” around the patio since people won’t usually gather around the fireplace to eat dinner. My husband and I just purchased a ranch-style home with a large backyard and we like the idea of having a patio and firepit added to help us enjoy the space. Thanks for teaching me these general tips to keep in mind as we start the process of designing the space with a custom landscape service soon!
These comments are all fake.. it’s ridiculous that you are creating fake reviews for your article.. I thought it was a good article, but the reviews don’t help make it better. Good day
We’re sorry you feel the comments are fake. They are all from actual visitors just like yourself.
In the upper left hand corner of 5 TIPS FOR DESIGNING A PATIO AROUND A FIRE PIT, what were the products used for the pavers, bar, and fire pit.
The fire pit is natural stone, but the wall and bar are Ashlar Tandem Wall
I’m wondering where should I have a firepit with seating areas – 1) opposite to Gazebo – which will be in the center of my backyard and seating area facing back of turf (mini golf design) or 2) At the far end left corner which will be about 50ft far from Gazebo, My backyard is 60ft x 100ft. I’m doing 50% pavers and 50% turf.
Can you please suggest a location?
That depends on how much you entertained. Opposite the gazebo would create a nice balanced look, but might create an issue with flow if you host large gatherings. The far left corner would provide a focal point for that side of the patio and would provide more open space. If you plan to have a wood-burning fire pit, be sure to keep wind patterns, overhanging tree branches, and location of any structures in mind as these elements could affect placement.