John Dryden

Outdoor fireplaces

Fall and fireplaces go together hand in glove. For those who want to enjoy a cozy, crackling fire outside, there are a range of options. John Dryden, Vice President of Hollywood Door, which carries outdoor fireplaces and firepits (as well as garage doors), gives us the rundown.

“Outdoor fireplaces have been around for quite a while,” Dryden said. “But the products have been increasing. They are more popular than ever in the past.”

Dryden notes that outdoor fireplaces are specifically designed for withstanding the elements and that there are many styles and price points. As with indoor fireplaces, there are woodburning and gas burning choices. The latter category includes gas models made to look like they are burning wood or glass rocks. 

  1. Consider your lifestyle and how you will use the product. 
  2. Get the big picture.  Look for inspiration photos, factor in the location of the product and the overall design of the outdoor area, have a budget.
  3. Finish materials should be weather compatible and location should be compatible with safety requirements.

Dryden suggests starting by reviewing what’s available and considering the overall style of the rest of your home. “The whole concept needs to be considered,” he said. “When we begin working with clients, we are trying to clarify what they are going to do.”

The least expensive way to go is a firepit. Chimineas, made of terracotta, are portable and freestanding and can be purchased at Hollywood Door. Firepits also can be purchased at big box home improvement stores. Because they can be smoky, Dryden advises choosing both a quality brand and burning a good quality wood. 

“Use well-seasoned wood and use wood like oak versus pine or cedar which crackles and pops a lot,” he said.

One of the most popular trends in the current outdoor fireplace market is the fire table.  They have a minimalist aesthetic, run on propane and come in a variety of shapes and materials – including marble – so you can customize your look to some degree. 

At the higher and most customizable end of the outdoor fireplace spectrum are built-in fireplaces. These are often a focal feature in a patio, outdoor kitchen, or what Dryden calls “an outdoor living center,” and they usually require a contractor. Finishes include stone, brick and tile. For this type of investment, he advises a design that “matches your personality and the rest of the house” and notes that built-ins may involve codes and permits.  The product comes with all the components necessary to complete the job. 

 “People are focusing more on their home,” Dryden said. “When they get home after a long day, they don’t want to go out, they’d rather go in their backyard.”

About the Designer

Hollywood Door, in business since 1954, built its name on garage doors. John Dryden joined the business in 1980 and in 1985, added fireplaces. “Over time, it has become an important part of what we do in addition to our 67 years in the garage door business,” he said. 

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