Create a comfortable patio space that helps you get the most enjoyment from your fire pit.
By Karin BeuerleinMore in Outdoors
Although a fire pit invites a gathering, it's a loose gathering, and you should keep this in mind as you're planning dimensions for your patio. "People don't congregate all the way around a fire pit, so you don't typically need seating all the way around, especially if the pit is smaller," Kalamian says. "You're usually talking about a couple of people with a glass of wine, so it's more of an intimate setup."
Kalamian constructs many of his fire pit patios with a built-in bench halfway around the pit and chair seating available nearby. But it's not a requirement that the fire pit be in the center of the patio. Kalamian also likes the "half-pit" look: a semicircular or square pit with a wall or even a water fountain directly behind. "It's nice to add plant material as well to soften up one side and create a feeling of enclosure," he says.
A fire pit itself is rarely bigger than four or five feet across, and the patio space around it should be an additional six feet or so on all sides. Be sure that you leave room to move chairs around and walk behind them; if you're choosing low-slung seating such as Adirondack chairs, don't forget to account for the extra real estate they take up.
Fire pits that allow seating on the coping should be at least 18" high; those used as a footrest are built about 6" to 12" high. For real wood fire pits, Kalamian recommends allowing ample room: the pit itself should be broader and deeper than a gas fire pit because you need to create lots of embers and warmth, and the coping should be wider than the typical 9" to 12" because you generally don't want to sit as close to a real fire. The bigger the fire pit, the wider the patio itself should be to allow people freedom of movement.
"Always be conscious of traffic flow when you're designing," Kalamian says. "That's the key to getting a comfortable space you'll use over and over again."