Warm & Toasty

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Get cozy in your yard with a fire pit

Large back yard with grass and covered patio with firepit.
Extend the season with a warm and toasty fire pit in your backyard.

The worst part of summer is seeing it end—watching the days get shorter and the nights grow cooler as the warm breezes give way to crisp autumn air and falling leaves. But, summer doesn’t have to be over when the school year begins and swimming pools close. Many Long Islanders have discovered the secret to extending their summers and enjoying their outdoor living spaces well into September and October: fire pits.

Fire pits have skyrocketed in popularity over the past two decades due to their effectiveness in keeping bugs away, the vast decrease in the price of natural gas and a widespread desire to remain outside even after summer has supposedly come to a close, says Bill Brunner, owner of Westbury Stove & Fireplace and Huntington Fireplace & Outdoor Living.

“It’s a lifestyle. More and more people want to be outside, not stuck in the house or looking at a screen,” explains Brunner, who has both a fire pit and an outdoor kitchen. Over the past year, he says that the fire pit has become the most frequently requested amenity for luxury homes on Long Island.

1756658-450px“People are entertaining more and more in their backyards,” says Dennis Lawrence, owner of Taylor’s Hearth & Leisure in Franklin Square, adding that nowadays, putting in a fire pit is “kind of a no-brainer when designing a backyard.”

Fire pits have become the centerpieces of numerous Long Island properties. Some of the more recently installed, trendier fire pits have been designed like countertops or coffee tables, explains Lawrence, allowing people to congregate around them and put their drinks down, creating a lively, social atmosphere. For a more modern aesthetic, many people have chosen the style of pyro-glass in the middle as opposed to the traditional look of ceramic logs.

Unlike fire tables, which operate with a propane tank underneath, fire pits are fueled by a gas line connected from the house. Though fire pits are considered the more refined of the two, both allow homeowners to enjoy their backyards later in the year. When selecting a fire pit, it’s important to consider what works best with the yard’s size and layout.

Brunner highlights the importance of consulting a professional before taking on the project of purchasing a fire pit and having it installed, as there is much to contemplate—safety, space and budget. He explains that some burners consume more gas in less time than others and, for this reason, he finds the manufacturer Warming Trends most reliable, describing its product as “a very innovative patent that allows for double the flame with half the gas.”

The material used to construct the pit should also be carefully considered. Lawrence emphasizes his preference for the manufacturers HPC and American Outdoors
for their durable stainless-steel bases, which are built to withstand the elements.

BayStovescustom HPC firepit with clear fire glass, cultured stone and bluestoneThe outer-stone construction should also be taken into account. Brunner says that a common and costly mistake people often make is having a fire pit or outdoor kitchen constructed from black granite. Since darker materials get much hotter than lighter ones, the choice of a dark color results in a higher risk of burns. For this reason, Brunner advises buyers to go with a lighter-colored granite, marble or a mineral called dekton.

For safety, especially for families with children, Brunner suggests that the pit’s barrier be constructed at least a foot wide. Plus, he recommends having a wind guard to keep the flame in its designated area.

Taking all these aspects into consideration, homeowners can often choose the design, shape
and size of their fire pit, creating a custom project that both Lawrence and Brunner say usually costs between $3,000 and $9,000.

The price becomes more costly as the size of the fire pit increases.

For those who want to sit around an outdoor fire without spending as much, fire tables are a less expensive option that typically cost from $1,000 to $2,000 and have the benefit of
not being bound to one position in the yard. But, whether buyers choose a fire pit or a fire table, they can rest assured that they are making a good, long-lasting investment.

“[Outdoor fire pits] are not only the fastest-growing part of the business, but the [part] that
get[s] the most positive feedback after the fact,” Brunner says. Fire pits have allowed people to spend quality time with friends and family without going out. Instead, they are putting “pride and money into their backyard[s],” says Lawrence.

And, relaxing outside on a lounge chair, surrounded by family and friends and warmed by a fire, makes seeing summer fade into fall a little less difficult.

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