We Brits are a surprisingly resilient bunch. We can maintain order and sanity in hour-long queues, perpetuate small talk in all manner of situations, and best of all, completely deny the existence of inclement weather. It’s the latter trait, we think, that has earned us our reputation as a nation of garden enthusiasts, happy to sit out, potter around, and even get the grill going the moment the temperature creeps into double digits. It’s no surprise, then, that savvy lovers of the great outdoors are turning increasingly to chimineas to maximise their time outside, and look lovely in the garden, to boot. But how do you find the perfect one?
There are three main options to choose from: clay, cast iron, and steel. As the size, weight, and heat output go up, so does the price. Do you have a large patio that needs a good blast of warmth to reach everyone, or a small seating area where people will be left feeling hot and bothered if they’re sat too close? Do you want your chiminea to do double duty as heater and cooker? Then look for a model with a removable or swing-out barbecue grill.
If you live in a house with curious little hands, the most child-safe chiminea type is probably clay, as its insulating properties keep the heat contained, and the surface doesn’t get hot to the touch. Clay chimineas are also the classic choice. They feel authentic, and require the least amount of maintenance. Steel is the lightest, and is easily moved by any budding Alan Titchmarsh who’s prone to Feng Shui-ing the garden every now and then. Cast iron is the most durable and long-lasting, although the lifespan of any model depends heavily on how you treat it.
While we’re all prone to fantasies of living in the balmy mediterranean (who can blame us?) we unfortunately have to keep unpredictable weather in mind. We recommend buying a cover for your chiminea, no matter its material, to keep it at its best — cast iron or steel will rust very quickly — and, if your heater comes equipped with one, remembering to use the rain lid.
Check out some garden inspiration ideas over at RealHomes.com for help creating the perfect outdoor space in time for the warmer weather.
1. Gardeco Toledo Extra Large Cast Iron Grapes Chimenea
Classical beauty with enduring construction
Best for: Classic Cast Iron | Material: Cast Iron | Diameter: 45cm
This beautiful bronze chiminea might be a little bit tricky to assemble, but boy is it worth it. A really good-looking piece of garden furniture with the added benefit of utility, it features a swing-out barbecue grill and hinged door (all the better for keeping an eye on home-fired fare), so al fresco dinners can be enjoyed outside from beginning to end, even when the temperature drops.
2. La Hacienda Malmo
Keeps kindling close at hand
Best for: Storing Logs | Material: Steel | Diameter: 36cm
The thoroughly modern Malmo is made of lightweight steel, meaning it can be easily moved around if your outdoor heating needs change. Wherever you put it, its bold, matte black design is sure to lend your garden design kudos. No log store or lean-to? No problem. The Malmo has its own handy compartment for holding logs, so when the nights draw in, you won’t have to go far to top it up.
3. George Home Pyramid Chimenea
An all-round good buy
Best for: All-Sides Output | Material: Steel | Diameter: 82cm
This sleek and modern chiminea comes in a stylish matte black powder-coated steel which, due to its heat resistance at high temperatures, won’t lose its dashing looks. Best of all, the large fire chamber with an opening on each of the chiminea’s three sides mean that no-one misses out when it comes to dishing out the heat, ideal for standing in the middle of a large patio for campfire-style gatherings.
4. Gardeco Ellipse Clay Chimenea
Classic clay for a first-rate fire
Best for: Stylish Simplicity | Material: Clay | Diameter: 54cm
The Gardeco Ellipse’s clean ovoid design and lovely dusty rose colour make it an utterly charming piece for any garden. Based on traditional designs, its clay body with easy-load wide mouth is authentically rustic, with no surplus hardware to spoil the simplicity or complicate construction. Unfortunately this does mean it’s not made for cooking (although valiant marshmallow toasters are welcome to try their hand), but as a beautifully-made and efficient patio heater, it’s first rate.
5. Castmaster Outdoor Pizza Oven (Large)
Let this Castmaster model steal a pizza your heart
Best for: Best Pizza Oven | Material: Cast Iron | Diameter: 46cm
This chiminea-meets-pizza-oven is the ultimate multi-tasker, keeping you warm as you bake and barbecue to your heart’s content. The Versace-style door in the curious pyramid-shaped top opens to reveal an integrated pizza oven, ideal for aspiring Jamie Olivers, while the lower portion comes equipped with a barbecue grill. Assembly is minor, but be warned: this cast iron beast packs considerable heft, so we recommend recruiting a gym-going friend to help get it into position.
6. La Hacienda: Murcia
Useful additions make the Murcia great for grilling
Best for: Barbecuing | Material: Steel | Diameter: 43cm
Form and function meet, once again, in the La Hacienda Murcia, which does double duty as a patio heater and barbecue, and looks good while doing it — the whimsical Murcia has a touch of the steampunk about it, with its curvy feature legs, standout hardware and beautiful bronze finish. It’s also incredibly useful. The wire grille door, included BBQ grill and poker allow you to keep a relaxed eye on your sausages while soaking up the heat.
7. La Hacienda Clay Chimenea BBQ
Hey good lookin’, what you got cookin’?
Best for: Clay BBQ | Material: Clay | Diameter: 36cm
Instantly transform your outdoor space from Coventry to Cancún with this traditional-style clay chimenea, complete with colourful weathered finish — the only tip-off that you’re still in Blighty is the useful rain lid. As well as being an attractive addition to the garden, and keeping you toasty through chilly nights on the patio, it also comes with a chrome-plated grill for easy barbecuing. Heater, barbecue and art piece in one, it’s perfect for smaller spaces.
Read our round-up of the best bean bags to create a cosy outdoor space.