Outdoor heating ideas: 10 stylish ways to heat up your patio all year round

Make more of long summer evenings with our outdoor heating ideas, from modern fire pits and rustic chimineas to cozy built-in fireplaces and stylish electric heaters

Roof terrace with fire pit as outdoor heating idea
(Image credit: Ivyline)

Outdoor heating ideas are at the top of every garden owner's list right now. Whether you own acres of land or just have a courtyard to call your own, some form of heat source is key to enjoying the long summer evenings (without having to bring out the slippers, the gloves, the second jumpers, the extra blankets, we could go on...).

And there are loads of options to choose from too, from sleek fire bowls for a modern garden look to more rustic stone chimineas if you like a more traditional feel. Plus, even patio heaters have had a glow up and now come in very sleek lamp-like forms that won't be an eyesore on your otherwise beautiful patio. And as outdoor living rooms only increase in popularity we are seeing more and more built-in outdoor fireplaces that are taking the concept to the next level. 

As Declan Kingsley-Walsh of Morso explains, 'Entertaining outdoors has really taken off in the past year, and we expect this trend to only increase. Outdoor fireplaces are always a crowd-pleaser, used to create an inviting ambiance at a get-together. Integrating an outdoor fireplace can help zone a garden, creating a comfortable, fully functional space and defining a clear area for social gathering and allowing those and their guests to sit into the evening as they ward off the cold.'

'Because we’re now becoming much more design-conscious with regards to our gardens and outdoor spaces, an outdoor fireplace is now more popular than ever. The popularity of fire pits has increased tenfold over the last couple of years.'

1. Build a fire into your garden wall

modern garden ideas with wall mounted fireplace and cosy seating

(Image credit: Future)

If you love spending time outdoors all year round, why not make your outdoor heating a permanent fixture in your garden? Installing a fire pit into a boundary wall will not only give you that much needed temperature boost, it also adds a stylish focal point to the space. 

Plus this wall-mounted option is ideal if you are dealing with a small garden as it will take up zero floor space, but you still get all the benefits of having a firepit.

2. Make an outdoor fireplace a focal point

modern garden ideas with chic outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Design by The Novogratz)

And if you have got the space, why not make more of your outdoor heating and turn it into a real focal point in your garden. You could go bespoke and have something really beautiful designed specifically for your space, or if you are on a tighter budget there are loads of stylish pre-fab options. 

When it comes to choosing materials, brick or stone is the most used but for a really contemporary look, concrete, as you can see above, gives a very sleek finish. And think about positioning too, make sure your outdoor fireplace isn't too close to any low hanging branches or properties. And consider the smoke too, you want far away enough so it won't blow smoke into your, or your neighbors, home. 

3. Turn your patio into a living room with a stone chimney

modern garden ideas with outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Future)

Outdoor heating ideas are of course a must if you want to create that cozy outdoor living room feel. Of course, you could opt for a fire pit, but having a built-in stone fire really takes it to the next level. Add a few extra blankets and some throw cushions and this space could really be used all year round. 

Also loving the traditional (but making a huge comeback) Adirondack chairs and the wooden stumps used as side tables, we are getting all the camp-out vibes, but in a stylish, more sophisticated way. 

'Good quality, carefully chosen outdoor furniture is a must when creating an outdoor space that can become an extension of the home. Look for waterproof, fade and algae resistant and easy to clean furniture.' advises the team at Le Feu

'Consider pieces that are simple and effortless and focused on multi-functionality and convenience as families and guest visiting will each time vary in numbers so adaptability is important. Combining colors and using a lot of different textures to create the feeling of Hygge is also a great way to use outdoor space.'

4. Pick a fire that doubles as furniture

modern outdoor furniture ideas with modern fire pit fire table

(Image credit: Future)

Take a fire pit to the next level and add a table with a built-in fire to your garden. This modern outdoor furniture idea provides a cozy heat source for when the nights draw in, a hand place to perch drinks and an instant garden centerpiece. 

You can pick from so many different styles too, depending on the look you are going for and the size of your space. Pick a large rectangular design to sit in the center of a snug corner sofa or go for something smaller and slimline with just a couple of lounge chairs surrounding it. 

5. Position furniture around a fire pit 

Fire pit on decking

(Image credit: Dobbies)

If you are after a quick and easy outdoor heating idea, you can't go wrong with a simple fire pit. Take inspiration from this lovely, cozy scene and position a fire pit at in the center of your seating area, it adds the perfect focal point and everyone benefits from its toastiness. 

'A fire pit can be easily styled with comfortable seating surrounding the heater.' says Joe Reeve, Head of Design at Planika. 'Think about adding sumptuous cushions and throws for an extra layer of warmth especially as the sun starts to set when spending time with loved ones.'

Complete the look by dotting around a few lanterns around the edges of the seating area to add to the lovely glow of the fire for extra cozy vibes.

6. Add extra warmth with a contemporary chiminea 

Contemporary Morso chiminea

(Image credit: Morso)

A chiminea is another very easy way to heat your patio or decking area, plus because they are free-standing you can move them around the space depending on where you need that extra warmth. 

We are loving this very sleek, modern design that would work perfectly in a very contemporary garden. It's almost like a sculpture. But if you do like a more rustic look, there are plenty of options out there in all shapes, sizes and materials. 

7. Opt for (stylish) patio heaters

Overhanging patio heater in open barn

(Image credit: Cuckcooland)

See, what did we say about patio heaters having a glow-up? They are no longer an eyesore that you reluctantly have to drag out when guests start shivering, and can in fact add style to your outdoor space. 

Stylish pendant patio heaters can be hung like lights from canopies, pergolas or arbors, while lamp-like standing heaters essentially just look like the floor lamps you would find in your living room. They make the perfect addition to snug sofa areas, formal outdoor dining spaces or as a way to make your garden bar even more inviting.

There are plenty of portable options too, so you no longer have to worry about proximity to a plug. As Joe Reeve explains, 'Portable, freestanding heaters are rapidly growing in popularity, offering maximum flexibility when spending time outdoors. Allowing you to utilize all areas of your garden, outdoor heaters are not fixed and as such, you are not bound to one spot.'

8. Build a fire into a seating area

modern garden ideas with built in bench seating

(Image credit: Photography by Phillip Durrant)

Create the dream set up by adding outdoor heating into a banquette. This stunning sunken snug has all the comfort of your living room – squishy sofas, a rug, a coffee table and right at the end, nestled amongst the seats a fire. If you are looking for a total garden makeover, and have the budget then why not recreate something just as stunning in your own space?

9. Add a simple fire bowl to smaller spaces

courtyard garden ideas - outdoor living room with rug and outdoor lighting

(Image credit: Future)

Blessed with a small garden? Or maybe you have a courtyard garden you want to add some warmth to? A compact fire bowl is the way to go. You can easily move them around or store inside should you need to. 

Opt for a really simple, cast iron design that will take up minimal space but still look lovely when it's roaring away. And take inspiration from this lovely courtyard garden and throw down a large rug (these are ideal for making small gardens look bigger) and some fuss-free slimline furniture and a couple of large potted plants for greenery and texture. 

10. Keep it contemporary with a simple design

Modern fire pit in garden terrace

(Image credit: Solus Decor)

Have your outdoor heating double up as a sculptural focal point of your garden by choosing a simple concrete design. Often square designs like this one double up as tables too so no need to squeeze in both your heat source and a place to perch your drinks. 

Also, take note of this patio idea – painted black fences and pergolas are so much more stylish than the reddish wood tones that they usually come in. And the black is the perfect backdrop for the natural textures of wooden or rattan furniture, neutral colors and leafy palms.

What is the best outdoor heater?

Choosing the best outdoor heater will come down to budget, space and of course your personal style. 

If you want the coziness and ambiance that comes with an open flame then a fire pit or a chiminea would be your best option, plus with these options, you can double them up as a BBQ for alfresco dinners. If you are looking to invest in something more permanent that you know will get used even in the winter months, a built fire or outdoor chimney would be worth looking into it. 

Now, if you live in a city or have a very enclosed outside space, wood-fired options might not be the best outdoor heating idea. Instead, look to a gas alternative so you still get the coziness of a fire but not all the smoke. Word of warning though gas fires can be expensive to run and if you are running on propane gas they aren't the most eco-friendly either. However, there are options available that are kinder to the planet that use more sustainable fuels:

'Fires such as Le Feu that use Bioethanol fuel are the best way to include a fire in an outdoor space whilst being good for the environment, home and users health.' explains the team at Le Feu. 'Produced from natural waste materials such as plant waste or straw, carbon neutral fires are much better for the environment than using Fossil fuels including coal and wood. The benefits of using a Le Feu bio fireplace is that they are clean, smokeless, and odorless and unlike Fire Pits, there is no ash residue or harmful particulates.'

And if having an actual fire isn't top of your garden wishlist, an electric patio heater would be your best pick. 

Hebe Hatton

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.