Keeping Warm During the Winter Months

Temperatures across the country have taken a dip and many homeowners are retreating indoors to keep warm. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that hasn’t been completely frozen over, we have some tips for keeping warm outdoors during the winter months no matter your style.

If you lean more towards the classic and timeless, a fireplace could be the choice for you. An instant focal point, a fireplace sets the stage for a patio and creates a traditional setting to cozy up by a roaring fire.

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Are you the outdoorsy type who appreciates all of nature’s beauty? Fire pits fit in seamlessly with their surrounding environment and can be created with natural textured Belgard wall block.

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Or does your style resemble timeless classics but with a contemporary twist? Then perhaps a fire table is calling your name. A newer option in fire features, fire tables not only create warmth, but are also an interesting, eye-catching addition that complements a space.

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Visit www.Belgard.com to request a complimentary Idea Book and learn more about the possibilities with Belgard.

Choosing a Fire Feature

When deciding on which type of fire feature to choose from, a number of factors come into play, including space, budget, building codes, and lifestyle. To make your decision easier, Belgard’s Vice President, Ken O’Neill, and Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc., offer advice on selecting the right fire feature for your outdoor space.

“Industry-wide, I think fire pits outsell fireplaces. However, with our company, it’s the opposite—fireplaces are king,” says Raboine. When deciding on an option, Raboine suggests asking yourself how you foresee using your backyard.

“Fire pits are great for entertaining large groups. Both children and adults love to gather around a fire pit and talk or roast marshmallows.  Fireplaces have greater visual impact and provide a more intimate conversation area for couples or smaller groups,” says Raboine.

Local building codes often play a huge roll regarding both the type of fire feature and the decision to go with wood-burning or gas.  Typically, wood-burning units must be placed anywhere from 10 to 25 feet from any structure, while gas-burning units can be placed almost anywhere.  Some subdivision covenants may offer additional restrictions regarding the use of fire elements.  In cases where space is at a premium and wood is not an option, gas-burning fire tables can offer a unique alternative that can serve both as a bar and a fire feature.

“Fire tables are not quite as popular yet because they’re relatively new, but they are definitely catching on,” says O’Neill. “We’re also seeing an increase in demand for brick ovens, which is why we’ve added Chicago Brick Ovens as part of the Elements line.”

Sometimes the choice is a personal one.  Some homeowners prefer gas, due to the elimination of sparks and ash, while others prefer the smell and crackle of wood.  Often, there are design considerations that may necessitate the use of one fire feature over another due to cleaner lines and overall flow with the surrounding landscape.

Visit our website for ideas on creating your own backyard oasis, complete with any number of fire features.

Year-round Ideas for Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits

As families across the country are embracing the “staycation”, it’s no secret that the popularity of outdoor living is on the rise! In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) revealed that “ninety-four percent of residential landscape architects rate outdoor living spaces as somewhat or very popular for 2010.” A common goal among homeowners building a new outdoor room and those adding to an existing room is maximizing the use of their outdoor living space.

One popular option is adding an outdoor fire place or fire pit to an outdoor room. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “fireplaces rank among the top three features desired by new home buyers.” In many parts of the country, an outdoor fireplace or fire pit allows homeowners to extend their outdoor living season. Fire pits are especially suitable for those cooler evenings, as friends tend to gather around them. Fireplaces, on the other hand, create an ambiance more akin to a family room. In both cases, the mesmerizing effect of glowing embers can quickly become the focal point of any evening.

While the benefits to having an outdoor fireplace or fire pit are more obvious during the cooler months, we also wanted to share a few suggestions for ways to use these elements during warmer weather.

Storytelling by the “campfire”:  Naturally, a fireplace serves as a great focal point or gathering place for your outdoor room. During the warmer months, invite the kids or neighbors out for a night of storytelling…campfire-style.

Old-fashioned cook out:  More and more people are beginning to use their outdoor fire pits and fireplaces for cooking. While roasting marshmallows is a familiar past time to most, many people do not realize you can cook virtually anything with fire. Make S’mores with the kids or entertain the adults with a rotisserie-style cook out in front of your fireplace.

Beat the Bugs: In an article entitled Using a Fire Pit as a Garden’s Focal Point, the source offers this suggestion, “place boughs of rosemary or stalks of citronella near the fire, and let the natural insect-repellent keep the evening comfortable and bug-free.”

These are just a few ways to use your outdoor fireplace or fire pit year-round. If you have additional suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment and we’ll share your suggestion with the rest of our outdoor enthusiasts.