Nothing adds ambiance and brings the heat to your backyard quite like an outdoor fire pit. It's fun and nostalgic to gather around the flames whether you're roasting marshmallows for s'mores on a summer night or hanging out with hot apple cider in the fall. Design-wise, fire pits are also a great way to add a focal point to your backyard landscaping, making it feel more considered and comprehensive. You can use one to anchor a patio, complement an outdoor fireplace, or set a cozy scene near an outdoor dining table.
A backyard fire pit doesn't have to be an expensive addition, either. The cheapest way to DIY a fire pit is with cinderblocks, which cost just a dollar a piece at The Home Depot. From affordable yet stylish steel fire bowl options to built-in designs decked out with lava rocks and bespoke tile, there are plenty of backyard fire pit ideas out there to suit any budget.
The best part? With so many options on the market, finding the right fire pit for your outdoor space couldn't be easier, even if you have a small backyard. To help kick-start your mood board, we're rounding up 21 gorgeous alfresco spaces that will encourage you to carve out a (hot) chill zone of your own.
Pro tip: To make sure your fire pit brings only warmth and not an abundance of smoke to your party, burn only well-seasoned firewood and avoid green leaves or newspaper. The more moisture in your burning materials, the more smoke.
Make It a Moment
To bring even more attention to your outdoor fire pit—no matter how modest—place it on a surface that stands out from the rest of the backyard. Here, Studio Robert McKinley used a concrete slab to differentiate hangout areas in the backyard and keep the fire pit area far away from the swimming pool's splash zone.
Pick a Strategic Shape
If you already have outdoor furniture, measure it and think about shapes that will work well with it before you choose a fire pit. On this roof terrace designed by Heather Hilliard, the long, narrow silhouette of the custom fire pit complements the sofa perfectly.
Put It Near a Window
An outdoor fire pit can add ambiance indoors too. When placed right outside an expansive window or wall-to-wall glass patio doors, as seen in this Connecticut home, a fire pit gives cozy charm and soft, Insta-worthy lighting to your interior space.
Add Custom Cushions
This outdoor fire pit stands out from the rest thanks to matching cushions on the surround and nearby couch. Not only does the striped fabric add character and color, but it also provides somewhere comfy for people to sit while they warm up. Just keep the fire low and use fire-retardant fabric.
Create Natural Privacy
To make your fire pit lounge area even more intimate, create privacy with tall hedges instead of fencing. Here, designer Jenn Feldman kept things tonal, with a concrete fire pit and complementary wicker seating. The tall hedges add privacy, drama, and vivid color.
Use Low-Maintenance Gas Flames
The work needed to maintain an outdoor fire pit can certainly turn some homeowners off. (The coals need cleaning! The wood needs piling!) An alternative is to opt for a gas-fueled design—like the stone fire pit seen here in the backyard of designer Molly Britt—and pile it high with a stylish fire conductor like lava rocks, which never look less than their best.
Channel an Old-School Campfire
When in doubt, take your design cues from a classic campground fire, which is often surrounded by foraged stones and is decidedly rustic and simple to build. Here, designer Bonnie Edelman created this charming outdoor fire pit scene as a gathering place for friends and family. While the vibe takes a back-to-basics approach, the whole scene still features modern perks like speakers hidden in the walls (made from local stone) and log storage built into the base of the benches.
Keep It Minimal
This open-basin cast iron fire pit is so simple and yet so stunning—the perfect addition to any backyard. Classic white patio furniture and a minimalist deck designed by Hollander Design allow us to focus on the real stunner: that waterfront view.
Add Some Lighting
Sure, the flames will give everyone that filter-like glow—but you don't want to trip on your way to your seat by the pit. Lend just a bit of light—without having to worry about rigging up wired lighting—with a charming set of bistro lights strung around your fire pit.
Lay Tile Underneath
A square or rectangular concrete fire pit lends an industrial edge to the backyard while also providing a geometric style template the rest of the space can follow. This outdoor area designed by Studio Life.Style echos geometric shapes throughout the yard, down to the ceramic tiles and graphic pillows.
Give It a Backdrop
Leave it to the Jonathan Adler–designed Parker Hotel in Palm Springs to offer the perfect outdoor fire pit idea. Eyes will naturally be drawn to a roaring fire, so give 'em something to look at with a beautifully landscaped backdrop, like the palm trees and dreamy pampas grass at center stage here.
Match Your Architecture
Lost on what type of fire pit to shop for? Take a cue from the exterior of your home and choose a design that complements an element of the architecture. Here, designer Kate Abt sectioned the backyard of her client's Washington, D.C., townhome into various "rooms" and incorporated pops of black throughout to mirror the windows and doors, including an inky black fire pit.
Take Advantage of a View
Just looking at the incredible view in Thom Filicia's yard puts you in a more relaxing frame of mind. If you have a large lawn, consider building a fire pit hangout zone in the middle of it so you can get the best of all the vistas surrounding you.
Sink Into a Seat
This recessed lounge area designed by Studio Lifestyle feels like a romantic, relaxing space to unwind. Because it's sunken below ground level, it feels private and separate from the rest of the space. Another bonus: The wide sides of this custom fire pit double as a cocktail table so you don't have to take up space with side tables.
Lead The Way
All eyes are on this fire pit, thanks to the hypnotizing pathway that leads the way there in this backyard designed by Janice Parker Design. The shape of the chairs mimics the soft, rounded edges of the fireplace and rounded stone enclosure separating the circular patio from the rest of the lawn.
The Surfrider Hotel roof deck in Malibu is the best outdoor space inspiration we've seen in a long time. Take style notes from the sleek and simple matte black fire pit surrounded by spacious sofas with contemporary graphic throw pillows piled on.
Forget About Grass
Now here's an outdoor fire pit idea we can get behind. At this Ojai vacation home, a laid-back seating area fits the no-hurries, no-worries vibe. The fire bowl warms up the courtyard during cooler weather, while the gravel gives it a rustic (and practical) feel.
Team Fire and Water
Designed by LH Designs, this outdoor area in House Beautiful's 2021 Whole Home project really has it all. The pool was a necessity, given Texas's scorching summers, so everything revolves around it, including the firepit and chic corner lounge.
Cater to Conversation
Make It the Centerpiece
To create a 20-foot-tall courtyard in the center of his Los Angeles home, designer Eric Olsen's team had to dig 11 feet to lay the footing and foundation. It really is the heart of the home, thanks in large part to the roaring fire pit at its center.
Incandescent Bulbs Are Officially Now Banned
Funboy Is Having a Big Sale (up to 40 Percent Off)
16 Backyard Bars That Serve Up Major Inspiration
26 Treehouse Ideas Your Kids Will Love