The beauty of a real log fire, the smell and light, draws in the best of guests and induces the best conversations. An outdoor fireplace is simply a thing of beauty, mainly because it creates good times.
Popular in the US and parts of the word with more inclement weather, there is no reason not to embrace this lifestyle in the UK. It encourages everyone to stay-out and stay-up longer. I love that a Friday playdate can end up being a wine poured forging of friendship.
For parties it is fantastic. Insulated by alcohol friends can hole up and exchange banter until the embers die. Someone will always start to guitar a bit of Kasabian. If you’re lucky someone will end up being a professionally trained opera singer turned amateur folk singer. That was a good night.
Increasingly people are embracing the idea of having some outdoor space as an actual outdoor living space. I encouraged my parents to adopt this concept but unfortunately their SW3 postcode resulted in an architect suggesting a £15,000 overhaul.
North London bollocks to that. My own outdoor fireplace was made using a great Louis style outdoor mantlepiece, itself constructed from a mix of cement and plaster that will withstand outdoor conditions. I then bought a cheap fire basket from Argos, and you’re basically in business. I tend to use smokeless logs so as not to annoy my neighbours. At some future point I would like to construct a chimney to take the smoke up and out at roof level of the house.
I painted the mantelpiece and the brick background in Mole’s Breath, from Farrow & Ball. It makes the space more elegant and more like a room. At the same time the colour is sympathetic to its natural surroundings. It’s actually such a success I plan to paint all my fences in the same colour next summer. www.farrowandball.com
Decorate it as you would a real mantlepiece. I bought an outdoor clock from Heals, www.heals.co.uk.
Melamine plates of historical figures from the National Gallery, www.nationalgalleryshop.co.uk,
Outdoor light sconces from Rockett St George, www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk.
I like to add a vase of flowers in the summer and this Christmas there will definitely be some holly and ivy action out there. The rhino head, sprayed with an outdoor proofing varnish, from Abigail Ahern completes the look. www.abigailahern.com The chairs and side tables are from Ikea. www.ikea.com. I love their simple and clever design. There is even a little hole in the base for water to drain out.
My next idea is to import a clay Indian tandoor for making authentic Nann bread, install a pizza oven and a Green Egg. To support this I may have to open as an outdoor restaurant in the summer!
Above and below are some photos of other gorgeous outdoor fireplaces for inspiration.