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Borst blazes a trail as the inside heads outside.

The backyard fireplace is now fully-grown. Once a rather small, nondescript stone pit in the far reaches of the property, outdoor fireplaces are now full-scale structures just like those found inside the home. They have become the focal point of social gatherings and a highlight of the backyard landscape.

"The backyard fireplace is just the next step in the trend toward creating outdoor living spaces that are a natural extension of the home," explained Mark Borst, founder and president of Borst Landscape & Design in Allendale, N.J.

"A fireplace can be used most of the year, even in early spring and late fall, as a place to gather with family and friends, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the warmth and ambiance."

Borst's company, an award-winning full-service landscape firm specializing in large-scale residential design/build projects, has seen an increase in requests for full-scale fireplaces, and for adjacent outdoor 'rooms'--including pergolas, fully-furnished patios, and backyard kitchens.

"The family room has moved outdoors, with the same amenities," he said. "You can cook dinner in your outdoor kitchen, relax on fine furnishings on your patio, and gather 'round the family hearth--without ever having to leave the backyard."

The trend towards outdoor fireplaces has been gradual. It began with portable fire pits that became permanent fire pits. often with small brass chimneys. The built-in, full-sized fireplace is the most recent phenomenon.

For those considering installing an outdoor fireplace, Borst has several recommendations. "Plan ahead," he suggested. "Special permits may be required, and the installation itself can take up to four weeks, depending on the size of the structure and the accessibility of the site."

"As with anything that involves fire, safety is key," he noted. "Make sure the fireplace is far from wooden structures, including decks. And always use a fireplace screen."

The design and placement of the fireplace is also important. "It should reflect the style and feel of the house, and blend seamlessly into the rest of the landscape," said Borst. "There should also be an easy flow between the house and all outdoor areas including pool, patio, outdoor kitchen, and the fireplace."

"When properly planned and installed, the fireplace will be a key piece of the outdoor entertainment area."
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Title Annotation:INTERIORS
Comment:Borst blazes a trail as the inside heads outside.(INTERIORS)
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 24, 2009
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