Fall is upon us and with it comes a transformation in how most of us are spending time outdoors. Gone are the days of soaking up the sun poolside or sipping cocktails in a t-shirt and shorts at 8:30 p.m.—sorry! However, time spent al fresco in the fall can be just as enjoyable as those beloved summer months, as long as you have access to an outdoor fire pit.

Not only do outdoor fire pits add a welcoming and cozy ambiance to your backyard, but the warmth it provides can extend your outdoor time for weeks (if not months) once temperatures drop. “There’s no better way to stay toasty and extend outdoor season than a backyard fire pit,” says Allison Messner, CEO and co-founder of Yardzen. “It’s for good reason that fire pits are requested in about 60 percent of our client projects. Not only do they infuse ambiance and increase the year-round function of your outdoor space, but they also serve as a captivating focal point and encourage gathering of friends, family, and neighbors.”

Photo and Design by Yardzen for Jenny Judge Design

But, to make a fire pit truly feel like the centerpiece to a perfect hangout spot, it should be thoughtfully incorporated into your backyard design. So, we’ve rounded up 14 outdoor fire pit ideas that will instantly transform your patio, deck, or lawn into a snug escape.

Keep It Sleek and Modern

Photo by MarkAdamsPictures for Shrader Design

Fire pits may have earned themselves a decidedly rustic reputation, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only option if your design style veers in a different direction. For those who gravitate towards modern or industrial design, you simply can’t beat the appeal of a stone or concrete fire pit, like the custom design seen in this space by landscape architect Scott Shrader. The low-profile rectangular shape holds attention without adding visual clutter to the patio, while the modern chairs offer a relaxing place to perch.

Add a Sculptural Touch

Photo by Caroline Allison for Daigh Rick Landscape Architects

When shopping for an outdoor fit pit, look for unique styles or applications that offer a twist on the norm. In this Nashville backyard, the team behind Daigh Rick Landscape Architects skipped the traditional metal bowl in lieu of a sculptural stoneware piece that resembles an urn, allowing the fire pit to double as statuesque art.

Make it Portable

Photo and Design by Yardzen

Homeowners who value flexibility while entertaining will love the ease and versatility of a portable outdoor fire pit instead of a built-in option. In this scene designed by the team at Yardzen, an active family meets their match with a Solo Stove, a sleek-yet-moveable fire pit that can be toted both around the yard and to off-site adventures.

Embrace the Surrounding Landscape

Photo and Design by Stephens Design Studio

When deciding where to place your fire pit, consider a back-to-nature approach that allows you to surround yourself with the beauty of your backyard and create a truly transformative escape. In this verdant scene, the team behind Stephens Design Studio carved out a dreamy nook in a San Fransico backyard, pairing it with an inconspicuous Paloform fire pit and low-profile chairs for a scene that feels one with the natural surroundings.

Rethink Traditional Chairs

Photo by Marnie Hawson for Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design

There’s no denying that comfort should be a priority when choosing furniture for your outdoor fire pit scene—but it doesn’t hurt to pay mind to style, too. For a campfire setup that bottles the rustic appeal of a woodland escape, trade traditional chairs for stumps designed for sitting, like the generously sized ones seen in this project by landscape designer Kathleen Murphy.

Set Up Separate “Rooms”

Photo and Design by Yardzen for Jenny Judge Design

Just like the inside of your home, your backyard will benefit from having designated spots in which to dine, play, and lounge. When choosing where to place your fire pit, keep flow and function in mind, selecting a spot that will draw a crowd but not add congestion to an already-busy area, like an outdoor kitchen. Here, the Yardzen team worked with designer Jenny Judge to carve out a separate spot to watch the flames flicker, very close to the nearby dining area for social synergy.

Create Privacy With Plants

Photo by Erik Otsea for Elysian Landscapes

An outdoor fire pit can only feel as intimate as its surrounding locale allows, and unless you boast dozens of quiet acres to yourself, your chosen spot may beg for a bit of privacy. Instead of surrounding your scene with a fence—which often does little in the way of adding ambiance—plant a selection of fast-growing bushes or grasses to create a living cocoon. In this space by Elysian Landscapes, an assortment of catmint and muhly grass act as a natural barrier to the rest of the sprawling landscape.

Add Creature Comforts

Photo and Design by Yardzen and Timbertek

To ensure your outdoor fit pit scene draws guests like a moth to a flame, be sure to work a few cozy creature comforts into the equation. Here, the Yardzen team relied on design mainstays like plush pillows, comfy throws, and even an area rug (totally fine if you’re using a gas fire pit that doesn’t throw sparks!) to warm up the outdoor space and make it just as liveable at its indoor counterparts.

Try a Chiminea

Photo by Ebbe Yovino-Smith for Yardzen

While most outdoor fire pits take on a drum or bowl shape, there are certainly other fun silhouettes to be had. If you’re craving a break from tradition, swap a low-profile bowl fire pit for a sprawling chiminea, which is characterized by a potbelly-shaped base and tall, thin chimney. The mustard yellow stunner seen in this Yardzen project is actually a vintage find, providing the perfect pop of color against the home’s creamy white exterior.

Get Low

Photo and Design by Chris Loves Julia

To add drama to your outdoor fire pit design—and make it feel like an intentional part of your backyard—consider putting your pit in, well, a pit. This sunken space from Chris Loves Julia helps to create a designated spot to decompress and watch the flames, with a circle of roomy Adirondack chairs completing the inviting escape.

Swap Grass for Gravel

Photo by Jake Shea for Becky Shea Design

Plopping your fire pit in the middle of your lawn may sound dreamy, but it can be a recipe for all sorts of issues, from rogue embers to burnt patches of grass. Instead, try backfilling a small “patio” space with pea gravel, as seen in this charming project by Becky Shea Design. Not only will it act as a safe place to indulge in marshmallow roasting, but it will help define different areas of your backyard and designate them for use.

By Ellie