A few minutes and a good armchair — that’s really all you need to get started designing your very own backyard fire feature. Play around with these insights from By The Blade to discover what design fits your priorities.

Warming Up

If warming your hands on a cold night ranks anywhere in your list of priorities, you’ll want to know which design elements increase the level of “toastiness” in an outdoor fire feature.

Both fire pits and outdoor fireplaces can bring the heat, but outdoor fireplaces have the advantage, since their taller backs block the wind and focus the heat. Add a roofed pergola, and there’s nothing warmer. But if you choose an open fire pit, there are still cozy options. Building the fire pit down out of the wind and circling it with successive layers of bench seats, hedgerows, and spruce trees does a lot to beat the wind chill.

What’s Hot?

If you’re aiming to stay trendy, go for the natural campground feel. More and more we’re seeing demand for rounded, natural-stone fire pits that are set away from the house, either on a patio or at the end of a winding path, where there’s an intimate, separate space.

Also trending in are glass rocks for a gas fire pit. As the flame surfaces between the treated glass pebbles, you’ll hear a “crackle and pop” that sounds a lot like burning firewood.

No-Pain Flame

Many busy folks put “low-maintenance” as a top priority. For keeping the maintenance man away, you can’t beat turning a key valve and lighting natural gas manually. Battery or electric ignition systems are similar, but have a few more moving parts and may require occasional maintenance.

Wood-burning fire features require you to take on some additional responsibilities, such as providing wood and dealing with ashes and soot. One type of gas system is also a bit higher on maintenance scale: the automatic ignition system, which allows you to light a gas fire feature remotely, from inside the house.

S’more To The Point

What’s the best for marshmallows? Of course, the ultimate toasting experience requires real wood and a good six hours of free time. But for those who prioritize convenience, a gas fire feature can brown those tasty little pillows as well, with a nice steady flame. Of course, whether you use wood or gas, a certain amount of cleanup is required afterwards to take care of drips and spills.

Other Tongues

Here are a couple of options if your priority is originality:

1. Fire and Water. Two of nature’s basic elements—fire and water—simply demand to be combined. Consider, for instance, the startling effect of tongues of fire swaying on the surface of a serene pool.

2. Fire Rock. By drilling through a boulder and snaking in a fuel line, some designers have dabbled with a fascinating impossibility—a volatile flame that springs from nature’s most stable surface.

Always A Good Time

In Kansas City, construction season runs right through the winter for fire features, so you can have a glowing extension of your homespace ready to use this very winter, or for the cool nights of this coming spring. Don’t hesitate to connect with Design Ambassador Bryant Schmidt at By The Blade to get started making warm memories.