Outdoor fireplace built into the side of a garage.


Outdoor patio paradise!  Isn’t it magical?!?!  There was a lot going on with this project, so I will tell the story in a series of posts.  The project started last July and the fireplace and exterior garage renovation were completed the day of our first snow in early December.  I sat in front of the fire on this snowy eve with a gloved hand, glass of wine, and umbrella to prevent snow from accumulating on my glasses and in my wine.

We are patio people.  I grew up with backyard parties and BBQ’s as a kid.  How lucky am I?  After Patrick and I married, we purchased our second home in Oak Park, IL. Our first home was a loft in a 1920’s factory in downtown Chicago, but this was our first home with what we craved….open, outdoor space.  We enjoyed many patio parties together with friends and family.  Our Oak Park home was a beautiful 1920’s house in the town that was home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.  This residence was a gut renovation project (plumbing, electrical, re-use of space, etc.) and it is where our son was born.  We have special memories from our time living there, including our first outdoor fireplace.  We designed the fireplace to fit the space and learned a lot in the process.  We are super lucky that fireplace installation is my brother’s area of expertise.

Our first outdoor fireplace project. We were hooked!

The fireplace was amazing.  We ran a gas line, so it was easy to get started and electrical for lighting.  What a great way to extend patio season into late fall and early spring in the Midwest!

Our current home is also located in the Midwest.   It is a Victorian Italianate home with a wonderful patio.  We are always relaxing and entertaining on our patio.  It’s just who we are.  We decided that we had to build another outdoor fireplace to extend our patio season.  The garage borders one side of our patio and a window was on that side of the garage.  You can see this in the before picture below.  The benefit was additional lighting from the interior garage lighting; however, who wants to see parked cars in the garage?  Window treatments were an option, but I’m not a fan of garage window treatments and we have so many spiders that cobweb control could have turned into a full-time job.

The side of the garage before construction of the fireplace.

We had a nice evergreen shrub under the window, but in preparation for construction my brother ripped it out and made it look like a sad, desperate twig.  The garage had aluminum siding.  We live in an historic district and our home has wood siding.  We were not required to replace aluminum with wood siding, but we thought it was a good opportunity to tie the more recently constructed garage with our historic home.  In order to simplify the project, we had to skip the gas starter.  Definitely not a project killer.

We spent some time walking through the neighborhood to get ideas.  In the end, we decided on local stone to match the foundation of our home and we pulled the stone around to the driveway/street side of the garage.  As the project progressed , there was definitely scope creep.  There were additional opportunities to tie the design of garage back to the house.  We added dental molding under the soffit and a window over the garage door.  The medallion over the window matches the medallions over the windows on our home.

Stay tuned for the next 2 posts in this series, which will highlight progress during the construction process and the final installment will highlight the completed patio project.   We need to relocate the barbecues for more space, add plants, and finish it off with some decor details.