One of the most requested and researched areas of outdoor living in 2011 is stone outdoor fire pits versus stone outdoor fireplaces. The issues are simple; cost, aesthetics, and function.
The cost difference between stone fire pits and stone fireplaces that are free-standing is somewhere between $6-7,000 more for the fireplace. In terms of aesthetics, a stone outdoor fireplace is a focal point for the backyard while a fire pit is more of a complimentary structure to the patio and sitting wall. Finally, the function is similar. They both give off great heat but the fireplace when built correctly will direct the smoke away from your guests and into the air!