Words: Uma Basso
Photos: TimAbramowitz, alabn, JodiJacobson
Summer is finally here! Not only does this long-awaited season bring us plenty of sunlight and warm evening breezes, but it also brings back memories of the past. Maybe you recall lounging around the deck, enjoying a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot day. Or hanging out by the pool with your friends, jumping in to cool off when the summer heat was just too much to bear. Or do you remember the smoky smells and partially-burnt hamburgers from your family’s evening summer barbeques?
Maybe your best memories come from spending the evening huddled with family and friends around the warmth of a backyard fire pit. Whether you are catching up with good friends, toasting marshmallows, or soaking in the heat of the mesmerizing flames, fire pits are a great way to connect with each other and with the outdoors. Is there any better way to enjoy a warm summer night than to hang out around the fire, laughing with friends and playing games with the family? Plus, you can even embarrass your teenagers with a hearty campfire song around the fire.
But kidding aside, fire pits are a smart way to get your family outside and spending more time with each other. So, what can you do to make your fire pit experience an inviting and enjoyable experience?
Creating a Comfortable Fire Pit Experience
Whether donned with pavers, stone, or brick, a fire pit is not complete without the finishing touch that only the right kind of furniture can bring. You can enhance your backyard experience by adding stylish, yet functional, outdoor furniture to accompany your fire pit. Not only does seating add to your outdoor fire pit’s character, but the style you choose can also impact the overall experience. Comfortable seating in the right location encourages conversation and laughter.
Below are some popular seating choices that can add a little something extra to your outdoor experience;
Adirondack chairs – With their distinctive style, Adirondack chairs are an attractive addition to your outdoor fire pit. They may be crafted in a range of materials, including high-quality wood or durable plastic, both of which make these chairs easy to care for and easy to clean. If you are looking for chairs that can be moved effortlessly to and from the fire pit, go for a foldable model or one made of light-weight materials. You can even add cushions for a little more comfort.
Rattan or wicker chairs – Typically constructed with a steel frame, durable rattan or wicker chairs are a great complement to any outdoor fire pit. They are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and styles. If you choose a set that comes with a table, you now have a lovely seating area that can be moved to your deck or patio when the fire pit is not in use. While rattan can hold up against intense sunlight and rain, natural wicker is not weatherproof. So, if you plan to keep your wicker furniture outside, be sure that it is made with resin wicker to avoid the damage that extreme weather can cause.
Rattan or wicker chairs are versatile. You can go with a simple, foldable chair style that’s easy to carry out to the pit and lets you move a little closer to toast marshmallows. Or go with a larger armchair design, complete with cushions and a higher back for maximum comfort.
Benches – With their simple, yet functional design, benches are a great way to enjoy a warm fire without too much fuss. They are easy to move around, so you can get a little closer to make your favorite s’mores snack. Go with wood for a rustic, outdoors look or stick with metal and mesh for a comfortable feel that is reminiscent of a camping trip.
For a more contemporary look around your fire pit, consider buying or building a curved bench or one with a back. These benches are longer than their portable counterparts and are typically made of wood, stone, or recycled plastic. With their unique design, they look really nice around a fire pit.
Iron chairs – Durable and weather-resistant, iron chairs are an excellent option for sitting around the fire. They are attractively-styled and can fit pretty much any décor. Depending on the type that you choose, iron chairs can be heavy and hard to move to. If you expect to move the chairs around on a regular basis, be sure to look for a lighter option. If comfort is a concern, just add some cushions. Not only will this brighten up your backyard fire pit, but it can also make the experience far more comfortable for your guests.
Outdoor couches – If you are into socializing, complement your fire pit with a few outdoor sofas. Comfortable cushions and pillows make them a great way to catch up with friends while enjoying the warmth of the fire. Outdoor couches are typically made of durable wicker, iron, or wood and come in a variety of sizes. Cushions are durable and generally easy to keep clean. Choose a loveseat to seat two people comfortably. Or, consider a sectional outdoor couch that surrounds part of your fire pit to seat several people.
Rustic – To create an authentic rustic look, you might consider the simplicity adding a few tree stumps dotted around your fire pit. While they may not be overly comfortable, they have an outdoorsy look that can be the perfect complement to the fire pit. If you feel inclined, skip the single stump seat and turn this into a log-sized piece that you can lay on its side to make a rustic-style bench instead.
Camping chairs – If your fire pit is more for function and isn’t necessarily designed to be the cornerstone of your backyard experience, a good set of comfortable camping chairs may be just what you need. They are light-weight and easy to carry to and from the fire. Many have built-in cup holders, neck cushions, and even footrests. They can be a great option if comfort is your primary focus.
Dining table and chairs – If dining outside around the fire pit is something you are interested in, but you do not have a fire pit yet, there are a variety of tabletop fire pits to choose from. With a fire pit set in the middle of the table, they are a great option for entertaining guests or just sitting down for dinner with the family. You can choose from a bar-style design with taller chairs or a sit-down dining room set that can seat anywhere from four to nine people. If you are looking for a more intimate option, try a bistro set that seats two people. While many come with cushioned seats, there are bench seat options available. If you already have a fire pit but are looking for a way to enjoy dinner outside, consider putting a small table and chairs nearby.
When choosing the best seating for your fire pit, keep in mind what is most important to you. If comfort tops your list, consider seats with cushions and chairs that have backs to them. Rustic experiences may be best served with camping chairs or basic benches. Lighter chairs are great for moving closer to the fire or storing inside when not in use. Finally, if your fire pit is designed to create a backyard experience, sectional seating, couches, or higher-end chairs will add to the overall ambiance.
What Style of Seating is Best for my Fire Pit?
You have a wide variety of options for seating around your fire pit. However, the shape of your fire pit makes some seating options work better than others.
Circular Fire Pits – Chairs offer the best visual placement around a circular fire pit. You can also consider benches that are small or those that curve along with the shape of the fire pit.
Square Fire Pits – Couches and sectionals best complement the square shape of your fire pit. To mix it up, try a few chairs on one side of the pit. Long benches also work well with square fire pits.
Rectangular Fire Pits – This is the most versatile design when it comes to seating. Whether you go with couches, chairs, or benches, just about any type of seating will fit this look.
What seating material works best for my fire pit?
If you are concerned about pairing wood Adirondack chairs with a stone fire pit, worry no more! The good news is that most seating options you can buy in the store are versatile enough that they can go with just about any type of fire pit, whether it is metal, stone, or concrete. So, if you have your eye on a set of wicker patio furniture to go with your brick fireplace, go for it!
If you are stuck on seating that matches the materials used in your fire pit, you may consider building your own benches.
Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
To add to the ambiance of your fire pit, consider adding a few accessories. Not only can these pieces add to the character of your outdoor fire pit, but you may also even get a little utility out of them.
Tables – Add a few matching small tables around your fire pit for extra space. Your guests will thank you as they no longer have to hold their drinks and snacks in their laps or set them on the ground next to them. As an extra bonus, look for a table that comes with a drawer. This can be a super-helpful way to store outside essentials like cooking utensils, napkins, and plates. You can even keep a first-aid kit in there, just in case.
If your family is into playing games, you might consider getting a table that can be moved in front of a couch or in between seats.
Grill – Fire pits can be used for more than just toasting marshmallows and hot dogs. You can use them to cook a little dinner. Place a few grill plates over the top, and you can now cook shish kabobs or burgers to enjoy around the fire. Plus, you can use the tables to rest your plates on.
Flower pots – If you are looking to add a little splash of color as the sun goes down, consider a few standing flower pots scattered around the outside of the fire pit area. Just be sure that they are far enough away from the fire.
Lighting – While an outdoor fire pit offers plenty of flames and warmth, outside lighting can be an added plus to the ambiance. Tiki torches or hanging string lights just bring a little something extra to your fire pit experience. If you have benches built around your fire pit, consider running some lights along the underside to add to the mood.
Cooler – Nothing goes better with an evening fire than a cold beverage. A cooler packed with ice and drinks will save you the time of running up to the house every five minutes. If you are concerned about sticking to the overall outdoor theme, you can buy a wicker or rustic wooden cooler that will fit right in.
When creating your ideal fire pit design, the outdoor furniture you choose can accentuate the overall experience. There are a variety of styles and colors to choose from. But beyond how the pieces look around the fire, consider what you want them to do. If spending quality time around the fire pit is at the top of your list, consider outdoor furniture like sofas or benches, which keep people seated closer together. Comfortable and cushioned chairs make for a relaxing evening in front of the fire, which is a nice way to unwind after a long day. If you are all about making memories for your kids through toasted marshmallows and s’mores, go with single moveable seats or bench seats to get closer to the flame – just be sure to keep your eye on them!