The 6 hottest trends in outdoor fireplaces

Outdoor fireplaces long have brought the heat and light needed to make a deck or patio a warm, inviting place for family and friends to gather.

In recent years, design aesthetics have moved away from the traditional brick or stone facade to a sleeker, more modern look. This trend has been prompted by the increasing popularity of natural gas as the fuel of choice, making possible options such as linear burner designs, colored lighting and remote controls.

Here’s a look at how the outdoor fireplace has evolved with six of the hottest trends.

Natural gas: The majority of outdoor fireplaces are still wood burning, but natural gas is quickly gaining in popularity for several reasons. These include environmental concerns, single-button ignition and their cleanliness, as there’s no ash to haul away with natural gas.

While propane tanks may be sufficient to fuel smaller fireplaces, you’ll probably want to have a gas line installed if you’re installing a larger one.

Linear design: Popular for years in resorts and spas, gas-burning linear fireplaces have those clean, sharp edges that give them a sleek, modern look, especially when installed flush to the wall and without a mantle. Linear models can provide a ribbon of flames running up to 10 feet long to warm even the largest backyard space.

LED lighting: Colored lights can change the atmosphere of your patio or yard at the touch of a button. Installed inside the firebox of a gas fireplace, a strip of LED lights can be programmed to shine multiple colors onto the flames to fit the mood — green and red at Christmas, for example, or sparkly white on New Year’s Eve.

Even in summer when you don’t need a fire, you can still program the lights to provide a warm, ambient glow.

Control from a distance: Remote control units can be used to turn natural gas fireplaces on and off and to control flame height. Smartphone apps also can be used to program the fireplace and controls can be integrated into most smart home systems.

Indoor/outdoor designs: See-through fireplaces, both wood-burning and natural gas, allow the warmth and glow to be enjoyed from both inside and outside. For summer use, fan kits can be installed to vent heat to the outdoors, and wood-burning fireplaces also can be fitted with a fold-down grill for barbecuing.

Standalone fireplaces: Unlike open, wood-burning fire pits, standalones have a functional chimney that directs smoke and heat up and away from the seating area. Their relatively small size also means they can be placed in more locations and moved more easily.

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