While enormous hearths have their charm, not everyone has the room to accommodate those structures. A contemporary, gas-fired alternative like this module unit from Spark Modern Fires is more environmentally friendly than wood burners and can be modified for custom designs. What's more, it turns on with the flick of a remote. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.
The Hearty Hearth
With a sophisticated style and a large, square firebox, this hearth will have no trouble keeping your guests warm on a frigid evening. The fireplace is designed to blend in with the brick but distinguishes itself with stone texture. Its heft makes it large enough to huddle plenty of chairs around it. Photo by Melody Saunders Brenna; Stirling StoneWorks.
An Intimate Firebowl
A beautifully-shaped firebowl, such as a Greek urn, is an attractive and portable alternative to traditional outdoor hearths. This bowl, designed by Ian Knepper, is a sculptural work of art that provides a safe and clean flame and is small enough to be positioned anywhere. It offers a wonderful opportunity to nestle chairs around for an intimate gathering. Photo by Ian Knepper.
Warmth Under a Pergola
It's nice to have a backyard entertainment space set apart from the main living area. You can gather around the blazing fire, look up at the stars and pretend you are far away from civilization.
This standalone fireplace from Stirling StoneWorks sits under a garden pergola on a stone patio. A raised hearth adds seating for outdoor entertaining. Photo by Melody Saunders Brenna; Stirling StoneWorks.
A Food Enthusiast's Fantasy
Chicago Brick Oven offers a pleasant twist from the ordinary. Their classically-designed, wood-burning hearths are not just patio centerpieces, but functional appliances for your outdoor kitchen. Photo by Chicago Brick Oven.
A Wall of Fire
Modern, modular gas-fueled fire ribbons offer enormous design versatility. A fire wall is used as a dramatic enhancement to the outdoor architecture. This unit is constructed from stainless steel with waterproof internal components, a remote control and an electronic ignition. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.
The Circle of Flames
Whether you live in the frigid North or are more accustomed to warm breezes and rustling palms, there's no better way to enjoy the company of friends than around a blazing fire as the night descends. Today's fire pits come with all the conveniences of modern life. Photo by Snassek.
Bringing the Indoors Out
A classically-styled stone mantelpiece will be the center of attention, whether it is in your living room or on the patio. With the right seating arrangement, your backyard becomes a natural extension of your home. Choosing materials that complement each other and considering lighting options, materials and furniture are key components in creating a comfortable outdoor entertainment hub. Photo by Winston Furniture.
Fire-Breathing, Green Monster
The awesome power of nature is on display around this mossy, monster fireplace that has been consumed by the elements over the years. The hearth is pure, natural and built from rough rock, a tribute to rustic life. Photo by Tom and Susan Vance.