Page 12 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • August 5, 2009 Summer Home Improvement The backyard fireplace is now fullygrown. Once a small, nondescript stone pit in the far reaches of the property, outdoor fireplaces are now full-scale structures like those found inside the home. They have become the focal point of social gatherings and a highlight of the backyard landscape. “The backyard fireplace is just the next step in the trend toward creating outdoor living spaces that are a natural extension of the home,” explained Mark Borst, founder and president of Borst Landscape & Design in Allendale. “A fireplace can be used most of the year, even in early spring and late fall, as a place to gather with family and friends, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy the warmth and ambiance.” Borst’s company, an award-winning full-service landscape firm specializing in large-scale residential design/build projects, has seen an increase in requests for full-scale fireplaces, and for adjacent outdoor “rooms,” including pergolas, fullyfurnished patios, and backyard kitchens. “The family room has moved outdoors, with the same amenities,” he said. “You can cook dinner in your outdoor kitchen, relax on fine furnishings on your patio, and gather ‘round the family hearth without ever having to leave the backyard.” According to Borst, the new fireplaces are indicative of a trend that has come Outdoor ‘living rooms’ have all the indoor amenities full-circle. “Back in the 1940s and 1950s, people spent a lot of their time outdoors. I remember that my grandparents had a small fireplace in the backyard in the 1950s,” he said. “It was basically a campground-style pit with a grill balanced on top, and a sixfoot chimney behind it. They also had a screened-in porch where we would sit for hours.” Those features seemed to have disappeared for years, as the focus shifted to interior design. But today, homeowners have returned to the notion of outdoor living spaces. “The screened-in porch may have been replaced by an open-roofed, columned pavilion, and the fire pit by an upscale fieldstone structure, but the idea is the same,” said Borst. An outdoor hearth seems to be a natural addition to the outdoor living trend. Fire has fascinated mankind for centuries. It is not only because of its use for warmth and cooking, but also because of the mesmerizing effect of the dancing flames, and the welcoming glow of its firelight. The trend towards outdoor fireplaces has been gradual. It began with portable fire pits that became permanent fire pits, often with small brass chimneys. The builtin, full-sized fireplace is the most recent phenomenon. Today’s outdoor fireplaces are usually part of a patio area. “Most of the fireplaces we have installed are made of natural stone. We tend to use fieldstone or flat stone, though some people prefer brick.” said Borst. “The structures are of substantial size, with a firebox that is about 4’ by 4’.” For those considering installing an outdoor fireplace, Borst has several recommendations. “Plan ahead,” he suggested. “Special permits may be required, and the installation itself can take up to four weeks, depending on the size of the structure and the accessibility of the site. As with anything that involves fire, safety is key. Make sure the fireplace is far from wooden structures, including decks. And always use a fireplace screen.” The design and placement of the fireplace is also important. “It should reflect the style and feel of the house, and blend seamlessly into the rest of the landscape,” said Borst. “There should also be an easy flow between the house and all outdoor areas including pool, patio, outdoor kitchen, and the fireplace. When properly planned and installed, the outdoor fireplace will be a key piece of the overall outdoor entertainment area.” Borst Landscape & Design is located at 260 West Crescent Avenue, Suite 1, in Allendale. Phone (201) 785-9400 or visit “LET’S GO STREAKING!!!” No Streaks • Window Washing • Window Cleaning • Gutter Cleaning • Power Washing • Deck Staining • Fully Insured • Free Estimates Eric Gormeley, Johns Hopkins – 201-981-0725 Dave Kuncio, UPenn – 201-394-3693 G.R. 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