The size and style of outdoor rooms influence heating choices. For small, casual settings, fire pits offer portable ambience. These wood-burning basins can be simple or feature elaborate tiles and decorative stands. For homeowners who spend a considerable amount of time entertaining in a fairly large open-air area, a built-in fireplace creates an inviting atmosphere. "It's an ideal way to heat outdoor space," says Jim Buckley, co-owner of the Buckley Rumford Company. From innovative indoor/outdoor designs to traditional masonry construction, outdoor fireplaces have become increasingly popular in recent years. "I think for people who want a real wood-burning fire, it's easier- regulation-wise-to put the fireplace outside," Jim says. To keep your outdoor space toasty and smoke-free, construct the tallest chimney possible, or add a chimney pot to an existing structure.
After deciding between a gas or wood-burning model, look for a brand that meets UL (Underwriters Laboratories) test standards to ensure safety, quality, and protection from the elements. If a fireplace or pit doesn't suit your space, consider tabletop and free-standing propane heaters, which warm a 20-foot diameter. Choose any of the following heating options to help chase away the chill.
The Backyard Firepit ($179) has a copper basin and wrought-iron stand. At 29 pounds, this model travels easily and offers a place to toast s'mores on the beach or just beyond the back door. Call 800/981-9888, or visit smithandhawken.com.
Design your own fire pit ($1,795) with your choice of tiles and colors. This model, from BBQ Island, comes with propane or natural gas. Call 877/474-5669, or visit bbqislandinc.com.
Perfect for coastal dwellers, the Orchid Chiminea ($349) is made from Cast Aluminum Alloy that promises not to rust in salt air. This model has a grilling area and can be purchased with a propane or natural gas kit. Call 800/303-4312, or visit thebluerooster.com.
Lamp of Luxury
The Stainless-Steel Outdoor Heater ($495) warms within a 15-foot radius. Built-in wheels make it versatile, while a weighted base keeps it stable. Call 888/263-9850, or visit frontgate.com.
The HWB700OD outdoor/indoor fireplace ($1,778) has stainless steel construction to protect against the elements. The design allows for your choice of marble, tile, or brick to finish the design. Call 800/867-0454, or visit monessenhearth.com.