If you've built a permanent fire pit in your backyard, make sure you complete the look with a seating area to match. Seating areas are integral to the use and enjoyment of any fire pit. Learn how to design permanent and temporary seating areas that can enhance your pit.
Types of Fire Pit Seating Areas
How you ultimately design the area will depend on a few different factors. Things like whether or not you want to build the seating area into the area surrounding the pit, whether or not the pit is sunken and what shape the pit is will all have an effect on what the seating area looks like.
Build up your fire pit and make the area part of the surrounding yard, patio or garden by including some built-in benches in the design. Benches can be used alone, or in conjunction with temporary seating like Adirondack chairs to accommodate extra people. When building a bench area, consider the following to help make the area look and function at its best:
- Build the bench out of the same materials as the fire pit or the surround patio area. For example, if the pit is built of fieldstone, build the face and back of the bench out of the same stone.
- Build the bench to follow the shape of the pit - round pits should have curved benches while a rectangular pit should have straight benches.
- Make sure the benches surround no more than 1/2 of the total pit. The extra room can be filled with additional tables and chairs, but more importantly this gives you plenty of room to access the bench and move around the pit itself.
- Give the bench not only a back to lean against, but a second horizontal surface on top of the back. This can act as a surface of table for people seated in the middle of the bench who wish to place their drinks or plates down temporarily.
- Consider building "tables" onto either end of the bench using the same material that the seat is made of, but at a higher level.
Mixing Chairs and Built-In Benches
While a built-in bench is a great way to get a finished, polished look to the fire pit area, it is sometimes not quite enough seating or not comfortable seating for all the guests. In this case, you may want to consider combining the built-in benches with some additional chairs.
When using chairs with the benches, keep the following points in mind to make the best use of the space:
- Keep enough space between the chairs and any tables that you use to give free access to the bench on either side and the fire pit itself - don't completely enclose the area.
- Angle chairs slightly toward one another while positioning them directly across from the center of the bench on either side. This encourages intimacy and conversation in two directions at once.
- If the chairs are far enough away from any built in "tables" on either side of the bench, consider placing a small end table between them. Don't include extra tables on either side; this will only close in the area and make it difficult to get around.
- Create a cohesive and permanent appearance by matching the cushions on the chairs to cushions on the built-in bench.
Chairs and Patio Furniture
If your fire pit isn't built in, or you don't want permanent seating around it, there are numerous ways you can use chairs and patio furniture around the fire pit area. While any of these items can be moved at any time, treat their initial placement as if they were going to be permanent; this will give the area that look and style you want, while still maintaining the flexibility you may need.
- Let the size of the furniture you use dictate how many pieces you fit around the fire pit. You want to allow enough space between each piece of furniture so that people can easily move and navigate around the entire fire pit.
- If you want to "close off" an area by placing furniture close together, do it on the far side of the fire pit or the area furthest from the house and patio so it's least likely that people will be approaching from that side.
- Place one small table for every two seats; if you have four chairs, you should have two tables to coordinate with them.
- Space chairs evenly around the area to encourage conversation. Make sure each side of the fire pit has the same number of chairs, and angle the chairs in toward one another slightly to induce intimacy.
- Keep large patio tables and oversized chairs out of the area.
Rectangular Fire Pits
Rectangular fire pits are one of the more difficult-to-design seating areas due to their shape and size. The most effective form of seating for this type of fire pit is to use built-in benches in a perpendicular layout. This involves using a long and a short bench wrapping two sides of the fire pit.
At the corner where they join, consider placing an elevated table, as well as elevated tables at either end. This provides plenty of seating and table area, while keeping the rest of the area free for people to move around, or to place a few additional chairs if needed.
If the fire pit is square in shape, rather than rectangular, consider placing chairs at each one of the corners. Look for chairs that match in shape; large square arm chairs or couches make great choices for arranging around a square pit.
Sunken Fire Pits
If you've chosen to have a sunken fire pit, consider building your seating right into the area directly around it. In other words, your fire pit should have an area directly around it for air, but after that you can place a slab seat curving around the entire thing.
You may choose to have a second tier of seating directly above it. If so, make sure this seating area is limited to only one side of the fire pit; this will allow access to the entire area from the remaining side.
Complete Your Backyard
If you have an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit, make sure you complete it with the right type of seating area. Whether you choose to build your seating, or arrange it temporarily, the right seating will ensure you enjoy your fire pit area to the fullest.