A “Boma-fide” South African Experience
By Kerwyn Fourie, Guild of Landscape Designers
Fire pits, more affectionately referred to as bomas, are a quintessential part of South African gatherings. They conjure up images of African sunsets with beers and cocktails, a roaring fire and heaps of laughter late into the night.
I would say that about two-thirds of briefs given to us by our clients include a fire pit area in some shape or form, which we don’t mind, as we love designing them and having a hand in our client’s future experiences. They range from down-to-earth and very rustic to ultra-modern, and everything in between.
When deciding on what kind of boma you want, it all depends on what goes best with the design and theme of your home and your lifestyle.
Then we must consider the position of the fire pit area in your garden. Ideally, it should be very close to your general outdoor entertainment area. If it is put too far or hidden in an obscure spot, the reality is that it won’t be used all that often. In order to extend your entertainment area, we advise positioning it next to or close to your patio, even next to the pool if space allows.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to round or square-shaped ones either. If your garden allows, be brave and experiment with interesting shapes and angles.
This is probably the most important aspect in determining how big and complicated you can go, as construction costs can add up quickly.
Once you have determined your budget, then we can determine what we can do, but don’t let the cost put you off either. You can still create a beautiful and inviting space with a tight budget.
One of my personal favourite styles is that of a gravel area, with or without flagstones, a constructed or freestanding fire pit and loose furniture positioned in a lush section of the garden. This allows an enormous amount of flexibility when it comes to adding to the area and how you, your family and guests interact with the space. This style is also generally more cost-effective.
You can add wooden poles, columns or a pergola with outdoor string/rope lights connected from one to the other in as many directions as you like (just no colourful lights please). Think about adding loungers, generous outdoor couches and chairs for hours of comfort around the fire.
If you do have a bigger budget, consider more constructed elements such as having it sunken, more complicated lighting and even having a gas fire as opposed to a wood one.
Interesting finishes could include wood or stone cladding. Benches can either be solid, floating or a mix of the two. If they’re floating, you can store your wood underneath. Include luxurious cushions and consider integrating built–in side tables for drinks and snacks.
Lighting can come from footlights, LED strip lighting or overhead from a roof structure like a pergola or louvre system. Adding in backrests makes the space more enclosed and cosier or you can forgo the backrests for a more open view. Just something else to keep in mind about the backrests is to angle them ever so slightly backwards so that you’re not sitting at a very uncomfortable 90 degrees.
The options are virtually limitless when it comes to fire pit areas, and so is the amount of enjoyment we can get from them. However, a poorly planned one can be disastrous, so we recommend seeking professional advice from a reputable designer or architect so that you can get the most out of your beautiful boma.
If you would like more advice or assistance with your garden you can contact Kerwyn on 064 658 2815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, visit the Purple Turtle Concepts and the Guild of Landscape Designers (GoLD) pages on Facebook.