Starfire Blog

Starfire Direct's blog is a wonderful resource for all fire pit and fireplace owners. Learn tips and tricks on how to maintain your feature and best practices.

  • Creating the Ultimate Backyard for Entertaining

    The time of year for outdoor entertaining is upon us—is your backyard ready? Design experts will tell you to have a focused vision for your space before you get started, so we’ve pulled together three of the best backyard designs (and also a few expert tips) to help you envision your ultimate outdoor oasis.

    For the cooks: Your focus will be on a grill that rivals your neighbor’s and ample seating. To host a truly legendary dinner party al fresco, your dining set must comfortably seat your guest list, and don’t forget to protect your guests from the elements—patio umbrella during the day and patio heater into the night. Remember: Summer dinner parties are a marathon, not a sprint!

    For the social butterflies: Think circular seating. Your focus is on keeping the lively conversation and games going long after the sun has set. What does this entail? Comfy cushions, side tables for drinks, and a stunning fire bowl with reflective fire glass for the perfect nighttime illumination.

    For the weekend loungers: The element of water is all that’s needed to transform a backyard into an oasis. A waterfall-firewall feature under a pergola adorned with twinkle lights will send you and your guests into a state of nirvana. Ah, summer under the stars—does life get any better than this?

    Explore the infographic below to learn how to customize your backyard retreat, and check out all the unique features Starfire Direct carries to bring your vision to life.

    Starfire Direct Infographic May 2016

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:
  • 5 DIY Projects to Beautify Your Backyard

    Your backyard is one of the most versatile, useful places in your home and, with the right layout and décor, you can truly elevate it to be a place you’ll never want to leave.

    Improving your backyard doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money. In fact, there are many ways you can spruce up your outdoor area, often for very little money and in a short amount of time. So, below we’ve included some tried-and-true ways to give your backyard that extra bit of wow factor that you’re looking for.

    daisies on a tree stump

    • Table Planter - Cut a rectangular hole lengthwise in an old table, and put a box with drainage holes in it. Now you can fill it with a layer of rocks and then soil, and put some easy-to-care-for succulents in it. It’s a conversation starter and a beautiful, natural addition to your outdoor seating area. Or, you can just put a rectangular container in the cutout, and then fill it with ice and cold drinks for when you have guests over.
    • Re-purpose a Tree Stump or Log - You can create an impressive table by attaching a simple plywood table top to a tree stump. Secure it by screwing the table top into the stump or otherwise affixing it. Or, you can hollow out the top portion of it to create a one-of-a-kind planter. You can also use a tree stump as a unique side table: putting it on casters might be a good idea, making it easier to move around.
    • Chandelier - You can take a hula hoop, wrap it in lace or other fabric using hot glue, and attach holiday lights to it to make a chandelier. Or, instead of a hula hoop, you can use thin branches from shrubs or trees for a more natural look.
    • Create a Path - You can lay wooden planks – all cut to the roughly the same length – in the shape of a path. You can also lay flat stones directly into the ground, or create a slightly sunken pathway, filling it with small stones or gravel, and leaving it like that, or adding larger stepping stones for a contrasting effect. Create your path in a curved or “S” shape to give it a graceful appearance.
    • Seating Area - You can create a bench of any size. All you need to do is stack cinder blocks in the shape of whatever bench you want, or stack discarded wooden pallets into any shape. Then, add some cushions on top – which you can make for cheap with some foam, plywood, and fabric. Arrange your seating area around a fire pit or fire bowl for a striking backyard feature.

    For more guidance about how to add visual appeal to your backyard, including our easy-to-use, no-install gas fire pits, view our selection of products to make your own custom, DIY fire pit.

  • How to Make the Most of a Small Backyard

    Huge backyards can be nice, but they can also have their downsides. They require a lot of maintenance, and all the planning, landscaping, and decorating can be expensive. Sometimes smaller really is better. Especially for urban residents, a small backyard might be all you have to work with. Fortunately, there are ways to maximize your space so that you get the most usage out of it while making it look great.

    stone garden pathway

    • Play with proportion. Instead of having large plants, use miniature trees and shrubs to add color and texture. If you like entertaining but don’t have the space for a 10-person dining table, consider expandable furniture.
    • Create levels. Break up the space with raised decks, walls, and plantings. This will add different spatial effects, and the feeling of depth will make the space seem larger. Tiered planters could also help achieve this effect.
    • Diagonal lines. These make a space seem larger than it actually is. Lay stone pavers or decking planks diagonally, if you can, and it will create the illusion that your space is bigger.
    • Break it up. Create different “rooms.” Arrange furniture strategically to create different zones – lounging, dining, cooking. An area for entertaining, centered around a fire pit, would create a welcoming atmosphere where your guests will want to stay and relax.
    • Remove clutter. Pare it down to only the necessities – whether it’s planters, furniture, or other outdoor decorations.
    • Create a focal point. You want to take the focus away from the smallness of the space. Having a focal point will add character to your yard and grab the attention of the viewer. A striking copper fire bowl or glass fire pit could be just the element of surprise you’re looking for.

     

    Whatever you have planned for your small space, with the right elements and a critical eye you can create a beautiful retreat that suits whatever you need. For more inspiration on how to transform your yard, read on for additional information about our products and services.

  • 5 Outdoor Entertaining Ideas for Warm Weather

    With spring and summer approaching, your thoughts might be occupied with getting the most out of your outdoor space. Backyard barbeques and parties are a hallmark of the season and, with a few advance preparations, you can make sure your outdoor area is ready for the most memorable soirees of the year.

    Seating

    Outdoor seating is a must if you’re hosting events in your backyard. If your outdoor area is exposed to the elements, you’ll need outdoor fabrics that won’t fade, and which resist stains and water. They might be a little more expensive than indoor fabric, but the payoff is worth it.

    Outdoor cushions also shed water fast, so they don’t become waterlogged. Be sure to store your outdoor cushions away when you’re not using them.

    If you don’t have enough outdoor seating for your guests, use indoor seating like dining chairs, stools, or poufs. You can even spread blankets on the grass.

    Keep your guests comfortable by having a few throw blankets around, too, in case it gets cold.

     

    fire table on patio in spring

     

    Food

    No matter what you’re preparing, follow a few guidelines and you’ll be on top of things:

    • Prepare in advance: Peel and chop vegetables, marinate meats, and prepare as many of the sides in advance as possible
    • Have something for everyone: You might have vegetarians or people with food allergies to account for.
    • Have the grill area ready: Make sure it’s clean, and that you have all your utensils, plus separate plates for raw and cooked foods, and make sure you light the coals with enough time to get them hot.

     

    Lighting

    Create a special setting with a variety of lights. Lanterns, holiday string lights, and candles can all be used to create a welcoming atmosphere.

    Hang string lights on the fence or deck, and place hurricane lanterns or tea lights around here and there. Globe string lights are also a classy option.

    Fire bowls and propane fire tables are a great addition to any backyard area, and they come in many different styles to suit whatever look you’re going for.

     

    Have Games and Music

    Bocce ball, croquet, beanbag or ring toss, or even Twister can all be fun. You can also cut up 2 x 4 planks and make a giant Jenga set.

    Soft music can put your guests at ease – bring some wireless speakers outside to add your own soundtrack to the mix. You can also use a fountain or a waterfall to mask sounds from a noisy street or neighbors.

     

    Bugs

    Keep bugs away with citronella candles placed around the yard. If you have ceiling fans, you can turn those on – flies and mosquitoes don’t like breezes. You might also want to have some insect repellent on hand.

    Whatever you’re planning for your spring and summer outdoor get-togethers, view Starfire Direct’s selection of fire pits and fire pit supplies, and you’ll be on your way to creating long-lasting memories for both you and your guests.

  • Preparing Your Backyard for Spring

    As the weather begins to warm up and the ground begins to thaw, it is time to start thinking about getting your backyard ready for the spring. Between hosting friends and neighbors for cookouts and having a place where your family can relax after a long day, you need an organized space that ends up becoming an extra room for your home. From entertaining your guests around a new glass fire pit to restarting your garden, preparing your backyard for spring takes some time and a little TLC. If you live in an area that feels the effects of winter more than others, there are steps you must take to shake off the cold and get ready for the warmer months. Once all of the snow has been cleared, however, there are simple ways to enhance your backyard and make it the envy of the neighborhood.

    snow covered backyard

    In order to prepare your backyard for the spring, it is important to focus on three main areas: home maintenance and repairs, lawn and garden preparation, and styling your backyard with the perfect furniture and accessories. Go in depth and consider these tips to ensure that your backyard is everything you want it to be, and more.

    Check Areas to Assess Maintenance Needs

    The end of winter also means that homeowners need to inspect their homes, including their backyards, for areas that need maintenance attention. This includes checking your gutters to make sure that they are not leaking or in danger of falling off of their mounts. If your drainage system is inadequate, it can lead to flooding and a host of other problems for your backyard. Especially when you finish decorating your backyard and have all of your furniture set up, the last things you want are moisture, water, and mud making the area undesirable if it rains.

    illuminated patio with fire pit

    This is also the perfect time to inspect your sprinkler system to make sure that everything is in proper working order. Homeowners that have a pool in the yard will want to make sure the water levels are where they should be, and that the filtration and heating systems are up and running before they are needed for the first time. When it comes to concrete areas in your backyard and your patio or deck, now is the time to check for damages.

    You can use a screwdriver to check the trim around your deck, as well as the windows and doors leading into your home, to find any areas that are rotting or need to be repaired. For the concrete sections of your backyard, it is a good idea to check for and fill in cracks before power washing and sealing.

    Once you have fixed minor problems or called in a professional to help with larger repair jobs, you will be ready to turn your attention to landscaping and design. The time between winter and spring is perfect for undertaking new projects so that you can make over your deck or patio and add in the features that you want.

    lawn and poolside canopy

    Fix-Up Your Lawn and Garden

    Springtime is all about emerging from a long winter and taking in the best of nature. In addition to being beautiful, your backyard gives you a space where you want to spend your time outdoors. According to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), nearly three in ten U.S. adults do not spend time outside on a daily basis. Take the time now to manicure your lawn, and take the first steps toward a full and vibrant garden. Understanding the type of grass you have will allow you to take the best course of action to encourage growth during the spring and set your lawn up for sustained beauty throughout the summer.

    deck in spring

    As the snow begins to melt, it is important to spread snow piles around so that there isn’t added pressure on certain areas of your lawn. Since the soil is still loose and soggy, remember to be gentle so that you do not cause damage to the new grass shoots that are taking root. Get ahead of the weeds before they have a chance to grow by applying herbicides or a seed blend that is made for your type of lawn. All of the preparation you put into your lawn now will pay off throughout the spring and into the summer months.

    The same can be said for your garden – time and energy now will pay dividends. Start preparing your garden beds while the soil is moist but not muddy, and clear the area you want to use of any debris and weeds. While you are working on the rest of your lawn, consider stripping away sod or incorporating your garden plans into your overall renovations when you put down new sod in your yard. If the soil in your yard is not conducive for growing plants or vegetables, Martha Stewart suggests giving your garden a kick-start by using raised flowerbeds instead. These solutions can be better for drainage and are easy to maintain. Once your lawn and garden are ready to go, and the foundation of the rest of your yard is taken care of, you are ready to focus on decorating your backyard and getting the perfect furniture for spring.

    sunset on wooden deck with grill

    Buying and Positioning New Backyard Furniture

    A new table and chairs next to your built-in barbecue gives you the perfect outdoor dining experience, while installing a new glass fire pit gives you a one-of-a-kind focal point for the area. When it comes time to replace old backyard furniture and shop for new pieces to add to the space, it is important to know what you want to buy, how to arrange it in your yard, and how to choose a focal point.

    • What to Buy/Replace – When you are in the process of preparing your home and yard for the spring, it is also time to see what backyard furniture items need to be replaced. Inspect pergolas and gazebos to see if repairs need to be made, and check patio furniture, such as tables and chairs, for any damage and rust. Once you do this, you can make a list of all of the patio furniture and accessories that you want to add to your yard. Be sure to include the major things, such as dining sets and decorations, while also keeping in mind that other items like umbrellas and heaters play a large role in the comfort of your family and guests.
    • Arranging Your Furniture – Everything in your yard should be arranged with an end result in mind. How do you want people to flow through the space? Should you add lounge chairs next to your pool or, instead, position deep seating options around a fire pit for your guests to enjoy one another’s company late into the night? The way that you arrange the furniture in your backyard will communicate to your guests what each area is for – similar to inside your home. You don’t want the only seating options to be around a table next to your grill, and you want to make sure you have plenty of options for guests when you host a party.
    • Choosing a Focal Point – In order to get the most use out of your backyard, it is smart to have a focal point. Whether that is a gazebo, fire pit, or garden, it is important that you take care of it the same way you would anything else. Now that winter is coming to an end, ensure that replacement parts are ordered, repairs are made, and you can begin to use the space on the first possible day. Doing so will tie in your entire backyard, and make it a truly valuable entertainment and relaxation space for your family.

    california fire pit at dusk

    Work with the experts at Starfire Direct to get the patio furniture and decorations you are looking for, including dining sets, lounge chairs, a glass fire pit, and more. Contact a representative at (866) 578-8538 today to get started.

    Sources:

    1. https://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpaorg/Tools_and_Resources/Park_and_Recreation_Month/Park%20and%20Recreation%20Month%20Omnibus%20Survey%20Fact%20Sheet%20FINAL.pdf
    2. http://www.marthastewart.com/274952/vegetable-garden-prep#177482
  • Most Popular Fire Pits and Why You Want One

    fire pit setAll across America, homeowners are discovering how easy it is to extend their indoor living space to encompass the great outdoors with the simple addition of a propane fire pit set. Whether you use a portable fire pit and move it around from gazebo to deck to swimming pool, or whether you permanently install a fire pit table on your patio where you entertain your guests all year long, you'll appreciate how a Starfire Direct outdoor fire pit draws your family and friends out beneath the stars for drinks, conversation and fellowship. Fire pits come in a variety of shapes, sizes and appearances, utilize different fuels, and can be portable or stationary. Some of the more common types of fire pits are listed below.

    Custom Fire Pit

    If yours is a particularly unique backyard or patio, and/or if you have a clear picture of the precise design you'd like, it can be built to your specifications. Custom shapes and designs are available, and interior propane piping can be fitted to any design. Whether you want a unique design for the centerpiece of your outdoor garden room, or just want a fire pit set designed to match your patio bricks, if you can conceive it, it can be built.

    fire pit setWood Burning Fire Pit

    This is the fire pit set for the traditionalist! Some people just love the sight, sound and scent of a genuine wood fire. Yes, wood fires require wood to be cut, split and seasoned (or delivered), and they generate a certain amount of ash and debris that must be periodically removed. However, all of this is part and parcel of their joy for at least one subset of fire lovers. Plus, with a wood fire you’ll never worry about running low on gas or propane, or about broken fuel lines and the like.

    Gas Fire Pit Set

    Fire pits can be engineered to burn either natural gas or propane, and in some cases, to use a hidden liquid propane tank that saves all of the expense of installing a gas line! Portable pits as well as permanent installations are available, and can burn lava rocks, ceramic logs, or any of the sizes and colors available of the ever more popular and stunningly beautiful fire glass.

    Fire Pit Table

    Without a doubt, one of Starfire Direct’s gorgeous fire pit tables makes a statement. Available in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and finishes, they effortlessly create an atmosphere that draws people together, time after time. When yours is the house on the block that has a fire pit table out in the garden, it is also the place where everyone wants to gather!

    Starfire Direct's fire pits come in a variety of materials -- copper, steel, stone, aluminum -- and are sturdy and made to last. Regardless of the size, type or style of fire pit set you choose, you're certain to enjoy using and sharing such an exciting extension to your interior living space!

  • Finding the Right Location for Your Agio Fire Pit

    outside fire pits Outside fire pits are the most requested design feature in landscaping today, as reported by the American Society of Landscape Architects. It's easy to see why this is the case as a quality fire pit adds a nice decorative touch to any area, the pit helps to extend the outdoor living season, and the cost is less than one might think. Whether one chooses to make use of a propane fire pit, once connected to the home's propane supply, or a portable fire pit making use of wood, the location of the fire pit is of importance. What should you consider before having a fire pit installed?

    The Right Space

    First and foremost, you must choose a large open space for outside fire pits to ensure flames and sparks can’t reach any combustible materials. In addition, the area must be level and exposure to wind needs to be factored in. Consider other architectural and landscape features that you may wish to highlight and enjoy when making use of the fire pit. Many choose to place the pit near social areas of the yard to enjoy it even more, but local building codes may limit choices. Be sure to check the laws and codes in your area before making a permanent fire pit installation.

    In addition, you must determine the size of the pit to be installed. Once this has been decided, you can make a paper model of the fire pit and consider seating arrangements around the pit, or any other architectural features you would like to place in nearby areas. When making these decisions, try and think about how a group of guests will feel in the space. You may wish to have seats that can be moved so some can sit closer to outside fire pits while others can sit far away. Others find they prefer built-in seating, but this can lead to some guests feeling more of the heat than others, sometimes uncomfortably so!

    Find the Right Fire Pit

    Once you have a better idea of where you will place the fire pit and how you will arrange seating, you are ready to choose from our outside fire pits. Many decide to go with an Agio fire pit for the affordability and handsome styling. An Agio fire pit is sure to add a sweet touch to any outdoor living area. When choosing your pit, be sure to consider features and accessories that you might like. You may wish to have a pit that is fire glass compatible, or one that comes with seating included. No matter which model you ultimately choose, your Agio fire pit will be a beautiful addition to your yard.

  • Choosing a Patio Fire Pit That Meets Your Needs

    In theory, shopping for a patio fire pit seems like it should be a very simple matter. After all, these are items that have acquired the image of being something very utilitarian and basic. The process becomes more exciting once you see the amazing range of designs and styles of fire pits on offer. If you thought shopping for fire pits would end up being dull due to a lack of variety and options, you'll be delighted by the range of possibilities on the market and the ways they make it easy for you to pick something that perfectly complements your other outdoor features.

    Types of Fuel

    patio fire pit If you love a rustic and natural approach, you can buy a wood-burning fire pit. This is the best choice for those who want the smell and general atmosphere of a “real” fire. It is important, though, to consider the convenience and practicality of other options. You can opt for a propane fire pit, whose propane fuel tank is easy to refill or replace. These fire pits simplify the process of lighting a fire, breaking down a fire, and cleaning your patio fire pit.

    If you're willing to go through some additional installation, or perhaps hire professional help, you can use an adapter to hook a unit up to a natural gas line. This can be nice if you're planning to permanently install a fire pit. On the other hand, keep in mind that you're giving up some portability by tying it to a fixed line.

    Portability Needs

    How much portability you want is another major consideration. There are wood units that can be moved around easily, though you'll have to be willing to do some work moving the fuel to where you want to burn it as well. A propane-based portable patio fire pit, on the other hand, is usually built with the fuel tank tucked neatly inside the unit. This means much less fuss when moving the unit around. Which approach works best depends on whether you want to be able to enjoy your fire in multiple locations around your home. You may even just want to be able to move it out of the way entirely at times, so you can use the space for other family activities. Planning ahead to accommodate this need could make your life a lot easier.

    patio fire pit Versatility

    despite design innovations and options, a patio fire pit is still a relatively simple device: it allows the building of a fire in a contained space. If you want a unit that can do more, though, you could also opt for a fire pit table. These fire pits incorporate a table surface to better facilitate eating and socializing around the fire. That makes them a comfortable gathering place for family meals and also a great spot to get a little work done while enjoying the warmth and comfort of a fire.

    There is no single choice that's going to be perfect for every household. You should take a good look at how you want to lay out your living space and what you would like to do with it, so you can feel confident that you are investing your money in something that is going to improve your life.

  • Fire Pits Can Be Stylish

    best fire pits There are few things more thrilling to children than the sight of a fire. Whether it's in a fireplace indoors or a bonfire outside, there's something about the dancing light and the thrill of mild danger that draws them in. As people grow older, though, most of them come to feel that actually having fire pits is too troublesome and unattractive to be worthwhile. There are plenty of products available through Starfire Direct, though, that show that you can enjoy the ambiance of the best fire pits that are beautiful and don't require a lot of fuss.

    Minimal Upkeep

    Actually building a fire with wood takes enough effort that it's a wonder that our ancestors found time to do anything else. It's critical to maintain a steady supply of wood for when such a fireplace is going to be used, and to have good skills when it comes to getting tinder started and then coaxing the tiny flame into growing and grabbing onto increasingly larger pieces of fuel.

    The experience of having a propane fire pit is entirely different from this. The technology is very similar to a propane grill, in the sense that it releases small amounts of flammable gas over time from a tank. The gas burns as it comes out, creating a lovely little fire that you can start up or put out in a matter of moments and without difficulty. Keeping the fuel supply going, meanwhile, is as simple as trading in your own propane tank for a fresh one periodically at a local store.

    Maximum Style

    As more people have wanted to take full advantage of the outdoor living spaces around their home, products have become widely available that are both beautiful and capable of withstanding the wear and tear of ordinary weather conditions. You could get something like a portable fire pit, that you only put out when you actually want to use it. These are the best fire pits for moving from one part of a yard to another, depending on where you want to hold a family gathering.

    best fire pits If you want something with a more permanent placement, on the other hand, you could go with a fire pit table. These are beautiful dining tables that have the fire unit built directly into them. It's basically just a matter of hooking up the propane tank inside the table, and then you can sit around the fire with your family while you do almost anything from playing games to having dinner together.

    Extra Touches

    If you want to make the best fire pits into something even more special, you can add fire glass to the mix. Starfire Direct offers a very high quality product that looks like it's just broken glass, but is really carefully tempered to ensure that it will be safe for this purpose. When it's scattered around the area where your outdoor fire pit burns, it catches the light, and also some of the heat, and helps it to scatter through the area more effectively. This both improves the appearance of your setup and makes it a better source of heat on chilly nights.

  • Fire Glass Brings Magic to Your Own Backyard

    fireplace glassFire has occupied a special place in our collective consciousness for quite literally centuries. The symbol of flame stands for life, passion, and change, yet fire can also bring serenity and beauty to our lives. A fire pit, lined with Starfire Direct’s tempered fireplace glass, creates a mesmerizing display out of your fire pit, creating a relaxing, near-mesmerizing outdoor space for your and your loved ones to enjoy year round.

    What Is Fire Glass?

    Fireplace glass is glass that has been "tempered" in a process that first heats it to 1148 degrees Fahrenheit, before cooling it rapidly in a technique known as "quenching." After tempering, the glass withstands a greater amount of pressure before breaking, and when it does break, shatters into small "pebbles" that are less likely to cause injury than large shards of non-tempered glass. Fire glass is deliberately broken prior to use, tumbled to remove any sharp edges, and is brilliantly colored and highly reflective. It comes in a variety of sizes, from small, 1/4" inch pieces, to 1/2" and even larger, chunkier pieces. The smallest fire glass tends to have a more dramatic effect and appears richer in color.

    A Burgeoning Selection

    Fireplace glass comes in a virtually unlimited array of jewel-like colors. It is used today primarily as an alternative to the outdated gas logs and lava rocks of previous generations, traditionally used in natural gas and propane fireplaces. Instead of those dark foundations, today people marvel at the startling beauty of flames breaking through a swathe of sparkling, shattered glass, reminiscent of a bed of gemstones. Fire glass stores heat even as it reflects the fire in thousands of tiny surfaces. High-end public places such as hotel lobbies and five star restaurants make frequent use of fire pit glass and, increasingly, homeowners have fallen for the color and brilliance fire glass adds to their home patio areas.

    Fireplace Glass and Your Fire Pit

    fireplace glassA fire pit full of flame and glittering glass, set beneath the stars, turn a backyard into a private retreat for your family and friends. Indeed, in milder climates, fire pits can often enjoyed year round! Because fire glass fire pits come both as permanent installations and portable units, it’s now easier than ever to have a fire pit that meets all of your particular needs. Install a permanent fire pit or table as a centerpiece to your patio, or purchase a portable pit that you can put away when the season makes it impractical. Best of all, either configuration supports fireplace glass, allowing you to make your fire pit truly your own.

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