“Fire is more than keeping people warm,” says exterior designer Scott Shrader. “It’s about getting people out and keeping them out.” Shrader is addressing a dilemma common to garden lovers: After spending time and money creating a livable masterpiece, a cold north wind can ruin a garden party or a solo contemplative evening. The solution, fortunately, is as old as society itself. Fire—flickering from a garden’s outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or a flame-filled bowl, table, or trough—is one of humanity’s primal attractions. Once we are ensnared, it exploits our love for warmth, conversation, and canapés. A fire is an ancestral meeting place, a source of comfort, a mesmerizing play of light. Fire is the star of any room indoors, and when placed outside, it creates a room around itself. But there’s a lot more to designing a welcoming space than dropping firewood into a terra cotta bowl in the backyard. Being properly primal takes some planning.
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