The Pits: Favorite Outdoor Fire Pits

Custom design by architect Barbara Bastor
If you don’t already have a fire “feature” in your outdoor space, chances are you are plotting on how to get one. I know I was until my husband and I built one on our backyard patio. I remember trying to find ideas on the Web, and feeling frustrated. Most were round, and made of stone, and, well, ugly. I wanted something understated and simple. I wish I had found this post–which I’m sharing here–on cool fire pits by landscape designer Kate Wiseman, who has a blog called KatePresents

Poured in place concrete monolith from Sunset Magazine’s website 

Kate, who works out of the San Diego area, admits she has a thing for pour-in-place concrete.
 I’m totally with her on that!

 Precast concrete half sphere by Solus Decor

If we hadn’t built a rectangular fire pit, I would have loved to use one of these concrete bowls. This deeper shape is dramatic.

 Custom fire pit by Molly Wood of Molly Wood Garden Design

When considering a fire feature, we found that fire pits are a fraction of the cost of most outdoor fireplaces, and they function more like a camp fire, in that many people can gather around them, as opposed to a few who park next to them.
(Okay, you have to check out Molly Wood’s blog.
 She’s a bit intimidating for me–$$$$–but a beautiful blog!)

Precast concrete fire bowl, also used by Molly Wood

I like the way the round stones are echoed by the smaller stones around the base. I assume they are just covering up or filling in something, but it’s a nice effect. 
Custom fireplace (or perhaps fire wall?) by Joan Grabel of Park Slope Design

I would call this more of a fireplace, but it’s still simple, low-profile and inviting.

Custom fire pit faced in Cor-Ten steel by Jay Griffith

I like the way you can sit right next to the flame if you want. 
Precast concrete fire bowl by Charles Swanson

Great color! I think all you do is mix in some pigment with the concrete.
 Another nice bowl shape with the thicker sides.

Yet another bowl. To me, the more texture or imperfections in the concrete the better. I like the round balls featured in several of these fire pits or bowls. One thing I really don’t like, however, are those colored glass pieces people fill their gas fire pits with. They just look so Miami Vice to me. Maybe clear glass would look okay. But really. YUCK!

This true fire “pit” is a computer rendering that Kate shared on a post where she encouraged readers to “think outside the box” on these fire pits. The back is a panel of CorTen steel with a lazer-etched design of a tree. (I know it’s easy to criticize, but I think I would just go with the sunk-in pit, and skip the CorTen. But it’s really creative!) She didn’t say who designed this. Maybe she did! Way cool!

Thank you, Kate! You have a great eye and design sensibility. I’m way down with anyone who uses the word “restraint” in landscape design. I think you might help inspire some future fire pit owners. Here’s Kate’s helpful Web site:
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8 thoughts on “The Pits: Favorite Outdoor Fire Pits

  1. Here I am, the person who doesn't yet have one, wants one soooo bad, and very busy plotting how to get one. Mr. R isn't on board with the fire feature idea yet, so I'm busy plotting that out too.

  2. This is a feature that is very appropriate here in Norcal–nights are rarely warm, and if they are it usually indicates a dreadful heat wave.I have a perfect spot too. I can see myself using it more often in the morning.

  3. We just had a rectangular one built and we love it! But, we had dinner last night at a friends house, and they had a gorgeous tan colored long rectangular fire pit filled with beautiful blue glass. It really kept us warm! I guess the glass really make the heat more radiant.

  4. It's amazing how fast the turnaround has been from wood-burning outdoor fireplaces which add dramatically to particulate pollution to now gas. I imagine a lot of the former are getting retro'd to gas. And is Jay Griffith still cool or what?

  5. I'm with you on the colored glass pieces in fire pits…Miami vice times ten.

    I love the bowls, but twist my arm, I'd accept the low slung fireplace too.

    All joys to you,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  6. I love your blog!

    Thanks for the heads-up about this post. I like the idea of blogs as a way of getting good ideas out to more people (I can't quite get myself to use the term "going viral" but I guess it is the same idea). Thanks for including all the links to the designers who should get credit for their amazing work. Unfortunately, I don't know how to credit the computer rendering of the Cor-ten fire pit. If anyone knows, tell me so I can credit them on my blog, too!

    Cheers and happy blogging!
    Kate Wiseman

  7. Thanks for sharing this, it's stirring up ideas here….

    The first two are more my style (although they are all VERY nice). I saw a photo of a Koi pond in Sacramento before, and a fire pit was adjacent to the fish pond, looked very and cosy without compromising practicality. As I said, stirring up ideas here…

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