Jean Allsopp / Styling:  Buffy Hargett

Draw warmth and inspiration from this backyard haven.

For Conville and Polly Lemoine of St. Francisville, Louisiana, their backyard veranda serves as a fireside retreat. With views of lush landscaping and ancient live oaks, the covered terrace evokes the laid-back ambience of the Mississippi River Delta. And contrary to popular opinion, this part of the Deep South experiences its share of cool fall nights.

Built for Warmth and Beauty

Composed of a brick chimney, mantel, and firebox, the Lemoines' exterior fireplace is covered with stucco as well. "This touch not only distinguishes it from the surrounding brick walls," says architect Billie Brian, "but it also makes a focal point." When designing this tranquil spot, Billie raised the hearth for additional seating. Plus, by centering the fireplace between a brick opening and the exterior living room wall, she provided a nook for firewood. A gas starter takes the hit-or-miss process out of starting a blaze.

Billie selected salvaged brick that possesses an aged look, along with rough-hewn cypress ceiling beams and planking. She then called for full masonry walls with arched openings to define the veranda. For additional texture, old brick flooring continues beyond the room's boundaries to form a terrace overlooking the backyard. An adjacent porch connects this area with other parts of the house.

The Lemoines aren't the only ones who hover around the hearth. Guests also gravitate to this spot. And who wouldn't? With fall approaching, what better way to prepare for cooler weather than to set aside a place for enjoying it?

To read about another comfortable porch, see "Outdoor Paradise," on page 106 of the September 2003 issue of Southern Living.

Fireside Solutions
When safely contained, ventilated, and monitored, an outdoor fireplace is a great addition to a porch. Here's some advice.

  • Find the right place in your yard, preferably a spot that's either secluded or near something of interest, such as a rock outcropping or water feature. Denote that area with different paving materials, such as slate or smooth flagstone.
  • For brick and stone chimneys, building codes dictate a host of guidelines. Unless you're well-versed with masonry, such structures are best left to a professional builder. Also, check with your local fireplace dealer for prefabricated outdoor units.
  • Freestanding metal fireplaces or earthen chimineas are handy for small outdoor fires. Just don't place them on wooden decks or other flammable surfaces.

"Comfortable Outdoor Porch" is from the September 2003 issue of Southern Living.

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