The outdoor fireplace is the latest must-have for obsessive upgraders—at least those with backyards. With built-in stereo systems, refrigerators, and price tags that run to $80,000, these oversized hearths often come with a just-for-show wood pile, though they run on gas.
“It’s the only way I can get my three kids to unplug from their iPods, computers, video games and TiVo and actually spend time together,” says Kevin Lurie, owner of a 14-footer. Others scoff at the idea that this has anything to do with family togetherness. “A lot of this is about status,” says one landscaper.