Over the last year, homeowners have been opting for more Bluetooth enabled gas fireplaces and fire pits which can be controlled with an app. This includes Schumacher himself, as he is currently updating his patio.
“In my outdoor entertainment area, I’m putting in a Bluetooth-controlled pit because I want it to be easy, so I don’t have to start a fire and smell like smoke,” he says. “It’s just like walking into the living room. Convenience is a big factor.”
Schumacher encourages homeowners to select what technological elements they want in their outdoor room, like security cameras, sound systems and fire features, in the initial planning phases of their build or renovation. “It’s easy to do it up front, but it gets costly to think about those things after the fact,” he says.
To determine what type of fire feature is right for you, Konitzer encourages homeowners to consider their needs and their space.
“A lot of times, it comes down to form and function -how you want to use it and how the space is laid out,” Konitzer says. “Do you want a table that can be set out there and brought in for the winter or do you want something built in? Do you want a conversation piece to sit around or do you want something that blocks your neighbors house? People might build a fireplace to be a yard break and get more privacy too.”
Many landscapers offer 3D rendering services so clients can visualize what each kind of product would look like in their unique space.
In addition to built-in fire features like fireplaces and pits, easily moveable gas torches and lanterns, fire pit tables and fire bowls can enhance outdoor ambiance without the commitment of a built-in feature. Decorative gas lamps, like the Tempest Torch and the Tempest Lantern offered at Elite Fireplace, are especially popular if outdoor light is the main concern.
“[They’re] not designed for warmth, but very cool for accenting patios, especially out on the lakes where people have beautiful decks,” Romenesko says.
Another popular item is the Breeo —a smokeless, wood-burning, portable fire pit. “It’s such a nice, quality product; their steel is so thick; it’s not anything you’re going to have to worry about rusting out,” says Elite Fireplace Sales/Operation Manager Tammy Kasten.
Whether you choose an elaborate built-in fireplace or something more portable, it’s important to practice proper fire feature care. Konitzer recommends always covering fire features like pits and tables when not in use.
The biggest reason these things fail is because leaves and debris get into the burners,” he says. “A cover helps keep it clean.”
Fire features add more to an outdoor space than just warmth and atmosphere -they function as the perfect focal point for families and friends to gather around.
“You can throw a bunch of sticks into a pile and make a bonfire, but when you add in that design element and you add in that comfy seating element, where everyone can come and sit around the fire and whether it’s neighbors or family and friends, there’s something about a fire and sitting outside,” Kasten says. “It can be as elegant as these modern fireplaces that are sleek and just stunning, or it can be just as basic as a fire pit.