Designing outdoor "rooms" requires imagination, creativity and simple building skills. Trellises, latticework, fencing, patio materials, fragrant plants, decorative rock and found items all contribute to an interesting area around a firepit. Planning involves budget, existing items and the amount of available space. With a little work over a weekend, you can create comfortable and attractive surroundings for your backyard firepit.
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Latticework attached to 4x4-inch posts creates attractive screens around a firepit. Set the posts back 10 to 15 feet from the pit at 5- or 10-foot intervals in either an open square backdrop or half-circle pattern; the screens make an airy, open enclosure. They delineate an area and create an outdoor room with the fire as the focal point. Gardeners can use them to support climbing plants for added interest. An arbor built with framed posts and topped with latticework is an easy and inexpensive way to cover a firepit to create a semi-sheltered area for backyard activities.
Natural Rock and Stone
Laying natural rock or stone as the floor around a backyard firepit creates a solid foundation for the area. It is a base for patio furniture, patio planters, outdoor lamps, insect zappers and other backyard equipment. Lay it in a bed of sand and gravel or set it in mortar. Set larger rocks and boulders at the corners of the stone floor area to create a stone grotto. Add a stone fountain for the sounds of water in the patio and firepit area.
Set up a roasting station near your backyard firepit to have everything at hand for campfire cooking. Build or buy a portable cabinet, and stock it with roasting sticks, campfire cookware and a campfire coffeepot. Also stock kindling wood and firewood nearby. Install a roasting spit in the firepit to roast large cuts of meat and whole chickens.
Build a small, elevated covered platform to hold a telescope for stargazing after campfires. Stairs with 8 to 10 steps up to a platform large enough to hold a chair and a telescope stand, with either railings or walls and a roof with a skylight, makes an ideal viewing station. If you build walls, you can cover them with posters of the star systems such as the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt.
For an inexpensive and rustic setting around a firepit, set up seating made from tree stumps and boards. If you know someone who is removing trees from their property, ask for tree sections. Or ask your local forest preserve about tree removal. You can sometimes obtain large logs and tree stumps from them. Set two large similarly sized tree sections about 4 feet apart, and nail or screw one or two wooden planks between them to make benches. Two or three benches around a firepit provide plenty of seating for outdoor gatherings. Use tree stumps to make small tables as well by topping them with a couple of shorter boards. If you have a large saw and some tree trunks, cut them in half to use for benches instead of boards.
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- "Easy-to-Build Backyard Projects"; Monte Burch; 2009
- "1001 Ideas for Outdoor Spaces: The Ultimate Sourcebook: Decking, Paving, Designs & Accessories"; Brett Martin; 2008
- "Creating Outdoor Rooms"; Leeda Marting; 2007
- "Backyard Blaze: The Outdoor-Fireplace Lifestyle"; Lisa Wogan and John Granen; 2006
- "Building Screened Rooms: Creating Backyard Retreats, Screening in Existing Structures, A Complete How-to Guide"; Editors of Sunset Books; 2004
- "Backyard Idea Book: Outdoor Kitchens, Shed & Storage, Fireplaces, Play Spaces, Pools & Spas"; Lee Anne White; 2004