Choosing Between a Fire Pit and Outdoor Fireplace

Both outdoor fireplaces and fire pits make excellent central features and provide perfect spaces to enjoy the warmth of a fire during winter or the refreshing open air of a fall evening. Both also have the capacity to be either gas or wood fueled, and may even be a combination of the two. The real decision of which to install comes down to dynamics of the landscape as well as personal needs and preference. Here are some points to help you decide which of the two is better for your Dutchess County, NY backyard.

Capitalize on the view

If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a magnificent view from your property, you may want to think twice about erecting an outdoor fireplace. The low-to-the-ground nature of the fire pit opens the space up to incorporate the surroundings. An outdoor fireplace, on the other hand, narrows the point of focus while the chimney may obscure a portion of the view. Unless you can place your outdoor fireplace in such a way that it remains unobtrusive to the beauty of the setting, a fire pit is recommended.

Increase privacy

fire pit or fireplace for my hopewell junction, NY home

That said, one of the huge advantages of an outdoor fireplace is the privacy and intimacy it creates. The structure is perfect for creating a functional barrier between your entertainment spaces and your boundary walls or road. The structure of an outdoor fireplace also provides an excellent windbreaker if your property is susceptible to a strong breeze. So if you’re looking to increase privacy and provide additional shelter from the elements, a fireplace is a good option.

What complements your property?

Certain features just work better with certain architectural styles or themes. Consider how out of place a fire pit may be in the setting of a Tudor manor. An outdoor fireplace of complementary natural stone would be far better suited to the aesthetic. On the other hand, a modern contemporary style home with its emphasis on clean horizontal lines, would be perfectly suited to a fire pit. Be sure to take your home’s architectural and theme styles into account when choosing a fire feature.

What appeals to your tastes?

For many people, the open, social environment created by a fire pit is the draw factor. A fire pit is no doubt the modern equivalent of the timeless human tradition of gathering around a fire with the tribe. On the other hand, outdoor fireplaces capture a certain refinement, a throwback to Victorian aristocracy, Swiss lofts, and log cabins. Both are fantastic investments, but which one ignites the flames of your imagination?

Safety Concerns

Well-tended to and responsibly used, neither a fire pit nor a fireplace should pose any serious health or safety concerns. However, if health and safety is of special concern to you because of allergies or the presence of small children and animals, the fireplace may be a better option. The elevation of a fireplace makes it better suited to homes with pets and small children. And while both can be fitted with a gas line to minimize smoke production, if smoke is a concern, an outdoor fireplace is better suited at funneling smoke up and away from the area. Generally, outdoor fireplaces also do a better job at containing the embers, meaning they pose less of a threat of the fire spreading during dry weather.

Related: Preparing Your Dutchess County Backyard for the Fall

Image courtesy of Unilock