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Gather round the fireplace ... outdoors.

Congregating around a toasty fire adds comfort and intimacy to outdoor gatherings. After sundown, the flickering glow seems to invite conversation. And as a practical bonus, a fire's warmth allows Westerners to enjoy outdoor entertainment spaces even when days and evenings are cool. Although a site for an outdoor fire can be little more than a hole in the ground, here we show seven fireplaces and one firepit designed to work with the architecture of the houses they stand near. They turn patios and gardens into "outdoor rooms" that can feel both intimate and expansive. In the daytime, they're focal points for views of the surrounding landscape. At night, the "rooms" shrink to the edge of the firelight. Outdoor fireplaces can be useful when you're not entertaining, too. The stucco fireplace structure with overhead trellis at the bottom of opposite page conceals unexpected storage space: its back side has two closets for outdoor gear and sports equipment. Fires also make a good spot for early-morning meals or for quiet daytime reading. In often-chilly areas like coastal Oregon, home to the wind-buffeted house above, a fireplace provides welcome warmth whenever you're outside. Construction considerations With the exception of the fireplace on our cover (built into a wood-framed, stucco-covered wall extending from the house), the units on these pages are freestanding. Each sits some distance from the house. All but the firepit above have hearths and fireboxes that face the entertaining areas. Most have masonry fireboxes and chimneys laid by professional masons. Only one example (designed by the Peridian Group and shown top center on opposite page) uses prefabricated metal fireplace and chimney components. This keeps construction costs down, but it makes it necessary to sheathe the metal for a more pleasing appearance. This style fireplace could be wrapped in plywood and then disguised with a stucco, tile, or stone veneer to blend with the architectural style of your house. Masonry fireplaces are durable but require thick concrete pads to bear their considerable weight. Although they can be made of adobe, concrete block, brick, tile, or stone and usually have a firebrick-lined firebox, they can assume intriguing forms. The sculptural, stacked blocks on page 58 enliven a small courtyard. If you want an outdoor entertainment area to include more than a fireplace, masonry allows you to integrate different types of equipment-gas cooktops, ovens, barbecues, and refrigerators-within an expanded shell. In the dry West, common sense dictates exercising extra care with fireplaces. Local building codes may require you to use spark-arresting screens or prefabricated caps; you made need to extend chimney height if the fireplace will stand close to a house. Check with your area's building department. Fireplace areas that shield and shape space Several of our examples do more than create gathering places; their design and location add wind protection and privacy. The dramatic fireplace on our cover, designed by San Francisco architect Lewis Butler, is part of an extension of the existing north-end wall of a house in Pacific Palisades, California. Projecting almost 12 feet from the house, the fireplace wall defines one end of a new terrace, makes the area more private, and shields it from wind. The stucco-clad fireplace pictured top right above is built into a wall that creates a private courtyard on a corner lot. The 6-foot tall brick-capped wall (top left) adds privacy, noise control, and a protected play area for the owners' young children; the fireplace, designed by Palo Alto, California, architect Larrick Alan Hill, sits on a bench that extends to the front and side. A sunken firepit and surrounding deck are central to the design of the house pictured on facing page, which sits above a windswept beach in Salishan, Oregon. Portland architect Jerry Ward designed the patio as if it were part of the overall pyramid shape of the house. The pyramidal orientation of overhead beams visually ties the open-air area to the house. Large panels of glass in the outside wall are sliding doors that can roll into place on windy days or stack against the walls on balmy ones.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1990
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