Josh Goff, Chief Outdoor Officer – Commonwealth Curb Appeal

   Outdoor living spaces are no longer just a trend. In many cases, they are now as much a part of the home as any other room inside the house. I’ve heard from many clients that, based on realtor feedback, outdoor living spaces were a major factor in why buyers were interested in homes. One of the great things about Richmond is that outdoor living can be enjoyed nearly year-round. Now we’re heading into fall, the season of patio weather and gathering around the fire.

  Ever since mankind became able to control fire we have respected it, admired it and gathered around it. It’s been used to feed us, allowed us to live in colder climates, and brought us together around stories, songs and relaxation. Today there are many ways to bring fire’s warmth into an outdoor living space.

  Of all of the features available, fireplaces are the most grand and make the biggest impact on an outdoor living space. They can be freestanding or incorporated into a covered patio or screened porch. They are often placed in a specific location to create a partition between neighbors or unsightly utilities.

  Just like those inside a home, outdoor fireplaces can be seamlessly built into a wall, can be short, can be tall. They can be brick, concrete, tile or stone. I’ve found that, currently, the most popular style is the traditional brick or stone chimney-style fireplace.

  Fireplaces are available in two main combustion options: wood, and gas. Here is a quick comparison.

  Wood offers that timeless aroma and snap and crackle but entails a bit of work. From gathering, stacking and storing wood, geting it lit and keeping it going, it takes a dedicated fire lover to get the most use and enjoyment out of it. One must also consider that with a wood-burning fireplace, breezy days will alter the draw of the chimney and smoke will likely come out of the front of the firebox. This can allow soot to cover the brick or stone and mar its beauty.

  Gas offers the ease of turning on your fire feature with the flip of a switch. Both natural gas and propane options are available. There are many choices for inserts such as logs, glass or stone as well as styles with blowers to direct the heat outward toward the living space.

 Customizing outdoor fireplaces continues to be a growing trend. Fireplaces can be created with niches to hold TVs and sound speakers. Lighting can be installed to enhance their appearance. And they can also be customized with barbeques, decorative wood boxes and benches on either side. These are all examples of great ways to add even more functionality to your outdoor living space.

This article was featured in the Sept 2019 issue of Richmond Luxury, published by the Richmond Times Dispatch.

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