Written by Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal & founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc.

Home builders, home buyers, kids, adults and everyone in between have one thing in common: they could use more vacations. Busy schedules and demanding jobs tend to leave people with fewer reprieves than they deserve. As a home designer, I find it’s both desirable and valuable to create spaces that feel like a vacation right in our own backyards—literally.

Outdoor spaces are hot in today’s home design market. Once reserved for the rich and famous, luxurious outdoor living spaces don’t have to break the bank. For homeowners, these spaces are great for entertaining and for creating the day-to-day memories with family. I find that adding elements of fire ensures my clients can make the most out of their new outdoor spaces because they can use them earlier in the spring, later into the fall and long after the sun goes down. Here are three ways I like to add fire to my outdoor living space designs.

1. Built-in Fireplaces

Careful planning and design go into each room of the home, and a backyard is no exception. A beautifully built-in fireplace is the star of many of my outdoor living designs. It adds a focal point to the backyard and makes it a great place to socialize and relax. The integration from indoors to outdoors is very important. When possible, I like the patio to cascade from the back of the home making the transition from inside to outside fairly seamless. When the design allows, bi-fold glass doors can even combine these two living spaces into one.

2. Flame Tables

Flame tables are an easy way to add elegance to any outdoor living space. I like flame tables because I’m able to incorporate them into spaces where wood-burning fireplaces may not be compatible. For example, adding a flame table to a rooftop oasis or a smaller urban space. The surround on a flame table provides a place to set down drinks or appetizers. Sort of like a high-end coffee table but, ya know, safely on fire. Flame tables can run off the home’s gas line or a more portable propane tank. They are fuel efficient while acting as the anchor to any outdoor living space.

3. Torches

Torches are modern yet classic. Slim in design, a torch can be built into pillars or corners, making them a great option for smaller spaces, or bigger spaces that require more lighting. Napoleon’s GSST8 Outdoor Gas Torch is an ideal accent piece for any outdoor living space.

Outdoor spaces act as a buffer between inside and outside. My clients continue to request outdoor living spaces to both entertain and relax. By using fire in an outdoor living space’s design, it not only adds a beautiful focal point, but also enables the space to be used for more months out of the year. With fireplaces offered in so many shapes and sizes, incorporating fire into an outdoor living space is easier than ever before.

Meet Wayne Visbeen

Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc., is known for his one-of-a-kind home designs. Visbeen works with clients to understand the important aspects of their vision and then transforms these into a conceptual sketch right before their eyes. Winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards, Visbeen incorporates these themes and more into his designs and his own home, located in Grand Rapids, Mich.