15 fire pit ideas to keep the backyard party going

A backyard fire pit with a fire burning in it, surrounded by a stone knee wall and chairs
A fire pit is bound to be the centerpiece of many backyard gatherings. chandlerphoto/Getty Images
  • Keep it budget-friendly by going au naturel with stones and stumps for your fire pit and seating.
  • Design your fire pit area as you would a room and define the space with a stone or brick “rug.”
  • Throw pillows and cushions are the perfect way to cozy up a hard stone space.
  • Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference library for more stories.

When you have outdoor space, chances are you want to make the most of it, and fire pits are one lively way to create a focal point in your yard. Aside from the gorgeous ambiance they create and memories you can make around them, there’s also an option for everyone’s budget.

Plus, they can range from simple and temporary to elaborate and semi-permanent, depending on your needs. We consulted HGTV host and Wade Works Creative‘s lead designer, Chip Wade, and interior designer, Emily Henderson for their favorite fire pit ideas.

1. Keep it budget-friendly

A child roasting a marshmallow over a simple stone fire pit
A ring of stone pavers can serve as a simple, cheap fire pit. Rohane Hamilton / EyeEm/Getty Images

Fire pit designs don’t have to be fancy to be functional and beautiful. Wade suggests using what you have to make it happen. Think: a ring of large decorative rocks, bricks, cinder blocks, even a hole in your cement. Or, if you have a home that’s made of stone or masonry, he adds, “Consider adjoining a gas fire pit right up to the house itself.” This not only allows heat to be reflected from the home back to the seating area, but it also makes it so you have to build less structure.

2. Define your space

A fire pit set in a circular stone patio overlooking a dock
A half wall and a stone patio clearly define this space. JamesBrey/Getty Images

“Fire pits notoriously have a strong aesthetic connection to hardscaped areas,” Wade notes. Naturally, stonework gives a fire-resistant landing for any sparks but, beyond that, it also provides a defined space for your fire pit area. “Consider the firepit like a mini room with a focal point in the middle,” Henderson adds, “It’s not necessary but having a version of a ‘rug’ will help define it. Of course you shouldn’t use a rug, but a pebble floor, stone, or decking (not with wood fire pits) helps create a conversation area.” Another, more beachy option? Sand!

3. Go portable

A large backyard with a stonework waterfall and a small portable fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs
A portable pit lets you experiment with location. TimAbramowitz/Getty Images

Committing to a built-in fire pit might not be your thing, whether that’s because of budget or not knowing where you’ll want it long-term. Should you not be ready to commit just yet, a portable or modular fire pit is the perfect place to start before taking the more permanent route of customization. If you think you’ll move it around a bit before finding its home, choose one with wheels for easy rearranging.

4. Have fun with string lights

A group of friends sitting around a backyard fire pit with string lights overhead
String lights add both light and ambiance. Cavan Images/Getty Images

While the fire from the pit will provide lighting on its own, having low voltage lighting or string lights around the space (not over the fire) can certainly add to the ambiance, making the design all the more magical. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive add-on that can really elevate the space.

5. Arrange a dining table nearby

A large backyard patio with a fire pit and dining table
Increase the utility of the fire pit by adding a dining table. TimAbramowitz/Getty Images

If your fire pit area will primarily be used for gatherings and entertaining guests, placing an outdoor dining table nearby is an addition you won’t regret. As Wade points out, having multiple social areas that can “double-dip” into the fire pit is ideal. Who doesn’t love a tableside flicker?

6. Incorporate pillows and cushions for coziness

An overhead shot of a luxury backyard with a sunken fire pit and water feature
Combat a lot of stone with cozy pillows and cushions. Wade Works Creative

With a hardscape design, vibrant pillows and cushions are a simple way to add a cozy contrast to the otherwise cold (fire not included) space, Chip suggests. Make your stony space more inviting with these touches – and blankets – so relaxing by the fire is actually comfortable.

7. Get creative with seating

A luxury backyard with a hot tub, fire pit, and couch seating area
Stools, stumps, and benches can all help diversify your seating. Wade Works Creative

While classic Adirondack chairs are always an affordable option, getting creative with seating can go a long way when building an outdoor fire pit area. Repurpose something you already have or thrift some fun outdoor stools. Wade and Henderson have also found great success with boulders and stumps.

8. Try swing seating

A backyard fire pit with a blue bench swing in the background
A bench swing is inviting and unique. sshepard/Getty Images

If you are willing to spend a little extra money, and classic chairs won’t cut it for you, a swinging seat or lounger is always a fun alternative for both children and adults alike.

9. Think small and close

The backyard of blue cottage with a fire pit surrounded by colorful Adirondack chairs
A fire pit close to your house means easier access and increased use. Ashley Drake/Getty Images

Fire pits that are too far from the house often go unused and those that are too big won’t feel as cozy or inviting. Keeping them intimate and close to your home, the experts agree, will make them much more functional and allow for better conversation around the fire.

10. Make it part of your existing outdoor space

An oval fire pit area with wooden lounge chairs enclosed by a stone wall
Embrace your existing landscaping to dictate the size and shape of your fire pit area. oneillbro/Getty Images

For a fire pit area design that functions best with the rest of your outdoor furniture, tie all of the materials and colors together so everything matches. This will make the space feel more a part of the rest of the design so it’s welcoming and doesn’t get neglected.

11. Opt for an outdoor couch

A luxury backyard with a grill, wooden decking, and a large couch in front of a fire pit
A couch keeps things cozy. Wade Works Creative

Similar to the swing seating, an outdoor couch is another cozy option for seating if you’re looking to spend a little more. Whether you choose a loveseat, a three-seater, or even a wrap-around, a couch adds extra warmth so you can bring your throw blankets outside and even swap out pillows seasonally.

12. Incorporate storage into the design

A large stack of firewood serving as the back wall to a fire pit area
If you position it safely, your wood pile can serve as a design element. Teresa Lett/Getty Images

Aside from the fireplace and seating, fire pit area designs with storage are a luxury you’ll be glad to have. Consider creative firewood storage or outdoor trunks that can double as seating and storage for pillows, blankets, marshmallow sticks, and the like.

13. Get fancy with a pergola

A backyard with beautiful landscaping, a fire pit, blue cushioned couches, and a wooden pergola
Overhead structures can also help define a seating area. jimkruger/Getty Images

Pergolas are elegant ways to draw attention to any area of a yard. Whether you build it yourself or buy it pre-built, it’s a whimsical piece of decor to add to a whimsical evening under the stars and by the fire.

14. Add end tables for food and drinks

A fire pit in a wooded clearing surrounded by wooden benches and tree stump tables
Tree stumps can serve as great end tables. Sarah Lynch/Getty Images

Adding end tables around your fire pit for s’mores, beer, or whatever fireside goodies you’re consuming, goes a long way. Like with your seating, you can get creative with these tables so you’re not breaking the bank. Check fireplace wood salvage companies for stumps to double as extra seating or cocktail tables, Henderson has gotten them there before for $US10 ($AU14) each!

15. Add heat lamps for year-round enjoyment

A fire pit set up on a porch attached to a cabin house
Porch heaters can extend fire pit season for months. Artazum/Shutterstock

Summer nights by the fire always make memories but if you’re looking to use your fire pit area well into the colder months, you’ll want to have additional heat sources.

“A misconception about fire pits is that they are a great source of comfortable heating,” Wade says, “To have an outdoor fire that is large enough to keep you warm without it getting too hot is hard to balance.” Incorporating infrared heat lamps is the best way to find this balance.

Insider’s takeaway

With a little creativity, designing an outdoor fire pit space can be fun – and doesn’t have to break the bank. While calling in a local builder can definitely make the space more permanent and customized, some homeowners (or renters) prefer the flexibility of something more portable.

Start by defining your space with stones, bricks, pebbles, or the like, and then add in seating, tables, lights, storage, or other decor to elevate the space and really make it your own. Sticking to a budget? Use what you already have around your yard or head to a thrift shop or wood scrap yard for inexpensive goodies.

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