Fireplaces and fire pits are increasingly being used as a design element rather than a heating element, according to Peter Schoenfeld, vice president of sales for Fireplace Warehouse and National Board Member of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.
He sees a lot of designs, especially for clients with west- or southwest-facing backyards, that employ linear fireplaces to shield some of the backyard without blocking their mountain views.
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“We do a lot of see-throughs as well so that if you are sitting down, you can actually see through the fire and into the view,” he said.
Sealed-front fire pits and indoor-outdoor fireplaces are popular products among outdoor designs these days.
Sealed-front units have glass over the front and don’t have an open flame. Schoenfeld recommends those types of products especially for homeowners with mountain properties or who intend to use their property for rentals or Airbnb.
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Sealed-front fireplaces are a little more expensive than other options, but “what people are liking about the sealed-front units is that the elements don’t really get inside of it: leaves and dust and spiders and bugs,” he explained.
He urges designers and landscape architects to talk with their clients to learn more about how they intend to use the fireplace and how comfortable they are with lighting it.
“It’s very important to tell the customer how they’re going to have to interact” with the unit when they use it, he said. For example, a match-lit unit is the least expensive, but some customers may not be comfortable with it.
“I get a lot of clients who just don’t want to put their hand near the fire or get their face over it,” he said. “That’s one of the main things that goes on in the outdoor segment is how people actually light or turn on their fireplace or fire pit.”