When the autumn chill takes hold, some East Enders head indoors, but the savvier among us seize the opportunity to create a seasonal refuge outside. While patio furniture is a necessity and hanging lanterns or even strands of Christmas lights can set the mood, nothings beats an outdoor fire.
A crackling backyard hearth or bonfire is a welcoming place to gather with family and friends. It provides warmth and soft light, and can entertain youngsters—and adults—with marshmallow roasting.
Local fireplace purveyor Mike Scanlon of Sag Harbor Fireplace Showroom notes that homeowners have a wide array of choices when it comes to making fires outdoors. “A lot of people are putting in outdoor gas fire pits,” he says, explaining that gas-powered fires don’t produce smoke or require cleaning, and they’re convenient to operate. “You flick a switch.”
Gas fire pits can be completely customized and installed anywhere, such as back patio areas, near the pool or even on the lawn. The gas can be connected to the household system or fed in from a separate propane tank, like a typical outdoor grill, Scanlon says, noting that they can be as simple or as fancy as one desires and cost from $250 to $4,000.
The fireplace seller suggests installing a fire pit in screened-in areas, because they don’t make smoke and provide significant heat to “extend the season on your porch.”
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, Scanlon says he’s partial to lightweight and portable fire pits. These easy- to-move-and-carry units are perfect for evenings on the beach, especially in the cooler months and where beach fires are allowed. Portable fire pits contain the blaze and won’t leave messy charcoal, burnt wood or ashes behind. A screen can also be added for further containment and protection from the wind.
Of course, chimeneas are another option, though their popularity has waned slightly. These freestanding, frontloading, bulbous outdoor fireplaces are said to have originated in Mexico, where indigenous tribes used them for warmth and cooking and baking.
Nick Strano, owner of Main Street Stove & Fireplace in Patchogue, says outdoor stoves, ovens and grills are all the rage these days, and he expects the trend to continue in the fall.
He notes that freestanding ceramic grills/smokers are the new must-have items for barbecuing. Popularly known as “The Big Green Egg,” these ceramic kamado grills/smokers have overshadowed outdoor deep fryers for cooking Thanksgiving turkeys outside on Thanksgiving. “They’re amazing,” Strano says, explaining that kamado grills “hold moisture in a whole new way” and turkeys will be “popping juice” when cooked in them.
Wood-fired pizza ovens and outdoor gas fire tables—with a fire pit in the center—are also quite popular, he says.