When Sharon and Charlie Goldstein toast their forty-second anniversary in front of a crackling fire this Valentines Day, they'll cozy up in the place they love best: their backyard. That's because they're among the many homeowners who've recently added a romantic outdoor fireplace to their landscape.
According to award-winning garden artisan, Scott Cohen, the Goldsteins represent a booming trend in outdoor living. "More homeowners today recognize how much the addition of an outdoor fireplace can enhance their quality of life," says Cohen, supervising designer for The Green Scene, a California-based outdoor design and construction firm.
An outdoor fireplace provides an attractive gathering space for conversation with family and friends. But for couples, the rosy light and soft warmth of a backyard fire creates a quiet, intimate setting where two people can take a break from the world to enjoy each other.
An outdoor fireplace was a natural choice for the Goldsteins, who've spent much of their married life outside working and playing in their half-acre Chatsworth, California yard. "We live outdoors," says Sharon Goldstein. "We like to entertain in our yard and we're avid gardeners. After working in the garden all day, we love having a place outside to sit down and relax together."
The Goldsteins chose Cohen and The Green Scene team to design and install their new fireplace after seeing several examples of his work on Home and Garden Television. Cohen incorporated a variety of design elements from their existing house and yard to create a brand new space that looks like it was there from the home's beginning.
The fireplace features a stacked stone hearth and chimney of locally quarried Bouquet Canyon rock. A built-in bench with back and cushions extends from the hearth providing comfortable seating on one side while leaving room for additional furniture in front. The soft glow of votives in a niche above the mantle adds another element of romance to the setting.
A patio cover of open beams and shade bars creates a feeling of shelter over the space. Climbing roses and wisteria, which Cohen carefully saved from the Goldsteins' garden, will soon provide shade and soft fragrance to the open air room.
Design details and architectural elements like this are what make an outdoor living room and fireplace an integral part of the home. According to Cohen, homeowners are catching on to the fact that fireplaces and other outdoor enhancements are a great way to add perceived value to a home even though the actual cost for these upscale-looking extras is often lower than most people think. This is good news in today's competitive housing market where these extras can help hook buyers.
"Outdoor fireplaces are quickly becoming a backyard must have for the well-to-do," says Cohen. "But many homeowners don't realize that there are actually affordable fireplace options to suit any budget, from custom designed masonry fireplaces, to masonry kits or pre-cast units, to freestanding chimineas."
No matter what type you choose, Cohen suggests these tips for getting the most out of your backyard fireplace.
- Don't block the view. Locate a fireplace where you can enjoy the scenery while watching the flames
- If you're creating a large fireplace, position it where it can help screen prevailing winds.
- Remember, any large structure will alter the flow of your backyard. Locate fireplaces accordingly.
- If possible, place the fire where it can be seen and enjoyed from indoors too. A view from indoor entertaining spaces will enhance any get together
- Pay attention to local ordinances when considering fireplace design, placement, and fuel type.
- Leave ample room around the fire to accommodate today's deep seating outdoor furniture styles and plants and flowers to finish off the space.
For the Goldsteins, the new fireplace is a sweet reward for the twenty-five years they've spent creating a piece of paradise in their large backyard. "When we moved here, there was a house, a pool, and lots of weeds and dirt," says Charlie. "Since then, our yard has become our hobby." Now their outdoor haven of thriving gardens, soothing water features, and cozy gathering spots gives testimony to what two people can do with some hard work and a lot of love.