7 Reasons That "Indoor Outdoor Fireplaces" Are Such a Genius Addition to Your Home

Double sided fireplaces that share a wall between your living room and patio are a design detail that will elevate any type of home

indoor outdoor fireplace in grey living room
(Image credit: Lisa Lev Design)

Blurring the lines between the interior and exterior is nothing new but the introduction of the indoor-outdoor fireplace cements this exchange quite unlike anything else. The ultimate two-in-one, indoor-outdoor fireplaces are often contained units, visible from both ends. They brilliantly extend the reach of embers from one room to the next.

As these distinctive features continue to gain traction, we’ve spoken to interior designers and fireplace makers to take a closer look at what makes these indoor outdoor fireplace ideas so captivating. Together we explore why they don’t just feel lighter than traditional fireplaces but are unique in their ability to let light and conversation flow both ways through an otherwise impermissible medium.

1.   MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NATURAL LIGHT AND LANDSCAPE

indoor outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Modus Fireplaces)

This living room showcases how you don’t always need an access point to feel connected to your patio or garden. The large panes of glass beautifully frame the landscape outside but also complement the focal indoor-outdoor fireplaces. It mirrors the structure of the windows but features a minimal flame that offers warmth from the comfort of the interior but can also be enjoyed outside.

A sentiment echoed by fireplace specialists, Modus Fireplaces who created this inviting design. 'This indoor-outdoor fireplace brings the outside in and allows beautiful, cozy flames to be enjoyed while taking in the external views. With special thermal pane security glass, it is available as a gas fire or as eco-friendly bioethanol fire and can be designed to different sizes and specifications,' says Daniel Sanders, Design Director at Modus Fireplaces. If you’re seeking to maximize your natural light and incorporate the surrounding views, this tall window-like fireplace may be the perfect solution.

2.  IT ALLOWS YOU TO ENJOY EVERY SEASON

indoor outdoor fireplace in grey living room

(Image credit: Lisa Lev Design)

Canadian interior designer Lisa Lev champions the flexibility and adaptability that indoor outdoor fireplaces provide. Unlike their traditional counterparts which can feel confined to colder months, these new options also work well in summer-sunshine-filled spaces.

'This home is located on a ravine in the western part of Toronto. The setting is heavily treed and serene, so outdoor living was an important part of designing this indoor living space. A two-sided fireplace elongates the seasonal use of the outdoor living space,' says Lisa Lev of Lisa Lev Design.

In many ways, an indoor outdoor fireplace is almost akin to an installation or exhibit in your home, one that evolves with the seasons. The light that flows through your fireplace heightens this experience, driving it further than just a source of warmth and into the realms of sculpture.

3. IT CREATES A UNIQUE FOCAL POINT

neutral living room with indoor outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Jordann Brown, Design: Keyserlingk Design Inc.)

If you want to create a scene-stealing yet subtle feature for your living room and as a patio idea, an indoor outdoor fireplace could be a worthwhile investment for your space. Canadian interior designer, Jane Keyserlingk demonstrates this in her Island Park project as a serene palette of soft grays and soothing ecru tones is set aglow by the gentle embers of the fireplace.

A similar experience waits just outside as the designer mentions. 'When designing this addition for our clients, our goal for their family room was to create a space that is light, bright, and connected to the lovely backyard oasis. The indoor outdoor fireplace is a unique focal point that enhances both the interior and exterior spaces. The family now enjoys the beautiful ambiance of the stone-clad exterior fireplace for outdoor entertaining, while also cozying up inside the family room during the winter months. This creative solution allows our clients to enjoy their fireplaces all year round,' says Jane Keyserlingk, founder of Keyserlingk Design Inc.

4. IT ENCOURAGES YOU TO INVITE THE OUTDOORS IN

white living room with indoor outdoor fireplace and TV

(Image credit: Quartersawn)

For their project in Lynnhurst, Minneapolis, local construction and design company, Quartersawn created a sunroom that lets every inch of light into the space and invites the exterior in. In this instance, the indoor-outdoor fireplace works in tandem with the other features like the windows and doors to achieve this aim. 'One of our main goals with this addition was to create a space that invited the outdoors in. We wanted a space that had open views of the yard and really connected the inside with the outside. Including a double-sided fireplace in the design emphasized this connection. Additionally, it allowed us to have one fireplace that could be shared between multiple spaces,' says Jordan Galleberg, lead designer at Quartersawn. He offers a valuable piece of advice to those considering an indoor-outdoor fireplace that focuses on working with and not against your climate.

'Advice I would offer to homeowners who are looking to invest in an indoor-outdoor fireplace is to make sure they are selecting a unit that is rated for the climate that they live in. We are located in a colder climate, so we ensured that the unit we were picking would operate well in cold temperatures and would maintain an efficient and insulated building envelope,' adds Jordan.

5. IT MAKES THE ROOM FEEL BIGGER

Cabin with indoor outdoor fireplace and green chairs

(Image credit: Eirik Johnson, Design: Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects)

Space is finite for the majority of us when designing our homes, but we can tap into the surrounding landscape to create the illusion of a larger room. This is the exact approach that Seattle-based architecture firm, Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects took when designing their Lot 6 project. Contained yet accessible, the double sided fireplace allows the interior to play with the exterior elements of this building. 'As lovers of the outdoors, the owners of the Lot 6 Cabin requested a home with a relatively small interior but expansive exterior spaces. The “outdoor room” of the covered deck and the indoor-outdoor fireplace were design priorities and made the house feel much larger than its modest 1100 sf. With the fireplace, the season for sitting out on the deck is expanded. When not out in the mountains, the owners spend much of their time in the outdoor room, especially when entertaining friends,' reveals Margo Peterson-Aspholm, Principal at Prentiss + Balance + Wickline Architects.

6.  IT LET’S YOU ENTERTAIN MORE GUESTS

ranch interior with indoor outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Gibeon Photography, Design: Courtney St.John Studio)

Vail interior designer, Courtney St. John offers a detailed insight into fireplaces, which play a year-round role both indoors and out in Colorado’s mountain communities where the daytime and nighttime temperatures may shift dramatically.

In her West Vail project, the designer preserves the strength and comfort of the fireplace by anchoring the feature with stone, both inside and out. 'Constructed with rustic stone in a clean-lined form with no mantel, the fireplace – surrounded by expansive floor-to-ceiling glass – links the family’s interior great room with outdoor living on an adjacent deck with mountain views. Raised hearths on both sides provide extra seating close to the fire, and the two-sided approach doubles the fun for entertaining and relaxation,' says Courtney St. John, founder of Courtney St. John Studio. As St. John mentions, with the duality of this indoor outdoor stone fireplace, your capacity to keep guests entertained grows too.

7. IT CELEBRATES NATURAL MATERIALS

Cottage with stone indoor outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Studio Paolo Ferrari)

Although fire fits firmly in the realm of the man-made, it shares an undeniable relationship with nature. As kindling burns so form crackling embers. The indoor-outdoor fireplace explores this connection with greater depth as shown in this Muskoka Cottage retreat designed by international firm, Studio Paolo Ferrari.

'We wanted to create a place of respite from the intensity of city life and also to build as sensitively as we could, complementing, but never overwhelming, the surrounding environment,' says founder Paolo Ferrari. The creative encourages cohesivity when designing your home, seeing your indoor-outdoor fireplace as an inherent component of the architecture that speaks the same language as the other elements within the space. 'The building plan was deliberately simple—a pitched roof, an upper-level great room, and sleeping quarters below. We limited ourselves to two primary materials: granite, which we used for the hefty kitchen island and the carved sinks in the bathroom, and whitewashed Douglas fir, which appears in the ceilings, the millwork, and the wall cladding. We custom designed all the built-ins and furnishings: the principal bed, constructed of stacked Douglas fir; the double-sided fireplace, which anchors the living room; and the exterior rock garden, reminiscent of a Japanese onsen (or hot spring), which has a sauna and outdoor shower. In a building so fully immersed in its environment, vanity itself becomes an afterthought. Stillness, space, connection to nature—these are the best and most rarified luxuries imaginable,' adds Ferrari.


How does an indoor outdoor fireplace work?

Indoor outdoor fireplaces are not, of course, open channels between the inside and outside of your home. They use a central glass "fire box" that uses a system of vents to share heat to inside and outside as required.

Indoor outdoor fireplaces are often gas for practical reasons, and because the outside face of an indoor outdoor fireplace acts as a vent, it also means that you don't need to have a traditional exterior vent, as it's all handled by the fireplace.

Writer and design expert Faaizah Shah is the founder of The Interiors Consultancy. She has worked with designers such as Staffan Tollgard and design houses such as Sanderson to help them understand and communicate their narratives. She is known for crafting engaging stories and imaginative content, and understanding great decor from her years alongside some of the best creatives in the industry. She is also a contributor to Livingetc.