easy DIY fire pit ideas

Disclaimer: I am using “easy” in a pretty liberal way in the title of this post as you will soon find out 🙂

A little over a year ago I posted about this easy in-ground DIY fire pit we made:

diy fire pit

{you can see the full post with pictures/instructions here}…On a trip to both Lowe’s & Home Depot last week with my father-in-law {they are visiting from Canada – Yay!} I was surprised to find out they no longer stock the tree ring pavers we used to build the fire pit. When I asked about it I was told the manufacturer quit making them. I can’t find any other local supplier, but here are a couple companies that are still making them if you want to go hunting:  Mission Concrete Products & Bayshore Concrete. Or, feel free to post in the comments where you have found them so others will know.

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In the meantime, here are some alternative ideas:

If you or someone you know has welding skills you could make something simple and sleek like this gorgeous thing the clever people over at Brick House created {just don’t lean up against in on accident, youch!}:

modern diy fire pit——–

…or you could go nuts and build forms, pour concrete and create an outdoor gas fireplace like this one:

modern concrete fire pit

take a look at the plans over at the diy network for an idea of how to make something like what is above

diy concrete fire pit{in the end they take things a little too far and add some tacky river rock and flagstone embellishment on top, but if you stop at this phase you will have something just lovely}

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I love the idea of this small, portable fire that you can take with you:

portable fire column{these can be purchased from the restoration hardware catalog for a pretty penny, but you can make something similar with these diy plans from The Art of Doing Stuff}

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How’s this for a truly simple outdoor fire pit {Ruhl Walker Architects}:

simple outdoor fire pit

{1. dig out a large circular area, 2. put in some edging material, 3. throw down some gravel, 4. build a fire}

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And, last but not least, for those of you who have the luxury of building from scratch consider this fire pit built into the patio {and also take a look at all the pictures of this beautiful home by Goforth Gill Architects}:

built-in outdoor fire pit

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As an aside: I was at Edgefield with my family last weekend – the website  claims that it is “a truly remarkable destination” and it is – but this came to mind as I was admiring the trees and buildings & fire pits for that matter “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” And it’s true.

Cozy Spaces

My sister loaned me a book awhile back all about the senses (can’t remember the name, but she might post below if you are interested). It came about because we were talking about how smells take us back the furthest. You know when you are walking outside and all of a sudden you smell that smell of flowers that were at the front of your great-grandmas long driveway in Sacramento – where you visited often as a child – and all of a sudden you remember taking long hot walks to the corner store for an otter pop. You hadn’t even thought of it since you were 3 or 4 and then there it is – all because of the smell of some forgotten flower…Well, anyway for some reason I smell those remind-me smells an awful lot in the fall. The cold mixed with rotting leaves. You get the idea, right? I’ve mentioned before that my favorite smell is woodsmoke, but especially woodsmoke from someone else’s home, while we are taking a cold, wet fall walk…Which of course got me thinking of my favorite cozy spaces. Which led me to today’s post. If you can’t actually get away to one of these places anytime soon, maybe you should curl up with some coffee and have a daydream:

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I’m going to admit that while I have a tumblr account I don’t really get it, never use it personally & rarely even look at it. However, while writing this post I stumbled on a tumblr account that has the most gorgeous pictures ever at theyardpdx. You should look at all of them. But in case you don’t here are a collection of my favorites:

rustic cottages and cozy spaces{I should probably just finish my post here, since anything else I might add will pale in cozy comparison…But I will try, so I don’t feel like a blog cheater by just showing you someone else’s collection}

storm king ranger station{this is the lovely Storm King Ranger Station in the scenic Olympic Peninsula, worth the drive if you live in the Northwest, you can’t rent the station but you could stay in the nearby Lake Crescent Lodge}

tiny cottage on Galiano Island{this adorable cottage on Galiano Island, British Columbia is by far the cutest home I have ever seen that was built in the 1980’s}

red barn on Kinderhook Farm

{Just when you thought I forgot there was color in the world I post a huge red barn! You can rent this perfectly rustic space on Kinderhook Farm in Valatie, NY for a farmstay. No TV or internet, just lots of happy grass-fed animals & fresh-air. Yes please!}

floating cabin in France{how about this beauty at Les Sources de Caudalie in France}

Whitegates Cottage in UK

{wouldn’t you like to have tea in front of this fire at Whitegates Cottage? You can rent it through the UK National Trust}

Treehouse at Treehouse Point in Washington State

-{this is a tree house you can rent at Treehouse Point in Washington state.  As a child my absolute favorite thing at Disneyland was the swiss family robinson tree house, so you can imagine my disappointment when I went back last year and found they had turned it into tarzan’s house. lame. Maybe If I stayed here I could imagine I was part of the Swiss family}

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Now that I have got you daydreaming I will leave you with this poem, by Robert Louis Stevenson (from A Child’s Garden of Verses}

Autumn Fire

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Backyard fire pit love

 

This picture is basically the perfect combination of summertime pleasures (other than maybe a few more chairs with friendlies sitting around):

{originally found on this old house}

If you know me personally it is no surprise to you that I don’t particularly like the heat. 68 degrees is about my favorite, after that it’s all sweaty. I complain long & loud about it and ask everyone around me, “are you dying? It’s so HOT.” However, hot days mean really lovely evenings here in Oregon and sitting around a fire on a summer evening is just about my favorite thing (you may have read here that wood smoke is my favorite smell). While others immediately wash everything after a camping trip, I try and hang on to the smoke smell in my pillow case as long as possible.

If you share my love of fire, you should build a fire pit this summer (or have your handy husband/brother/dad do it), it is way less daunting than the backyard cottage project and can be done really cheap. I’ll show you some pictures of one we built (& by we, I mean Jeff) and then tell you what we will do differently next time and where to buy the products:

1. clear a spot, lay down your circular pavers (the kind used to rim a tree).

2. draw around the pavers (a stick will work for this), move them out of the way and then dig out to the depth of the pavers.

3. Put pavers back in and pack around the edges with some of the dirt you dug out of the hole.

btw: after this picture my husband decided it was too shallow and went and got 3 more pavers, dug deeper and did this all again, but as usual I didn’t get those pictures.

 Now you have built a fire pit for $11.96! (when you buy 6 of these from Home Depot):

What you do next could completely blow that tiny fire pit budget, so don’t go too crazy (after all, this is supposed to be a cheap & easy project). If you already had grass around where you put in your pit, you could just clear a small area around it (to prevent sparks from catching fire) & call it a day, or you can make more of a seating area, or whatever you want (let your imagination be your guide). Here is what ours looked like after we finished everything up:

We bought the slate off craigslist and while it wasn’t expensive we would just skip it all together next time and put some sort of small rock or gravel down. The slate was pretty low-quality and it was impossible to level, so our chairs were always teetering back and forth. You could spend more on better materials, but I don’t think it is worth it since your chairs will settle nicely into the gravel & it looks just as nice:

{originally found on fresh home ideas}

If you like the look of the surround in the above picture better, and are willing to spend more money you could use something like this:

(this company is in California, but you can google concrete ring + your location and find something local):

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If you don’t want to put something in-ground or aren’t allowed to have real fire in your backyard here are some good options:

{hammered copper fire pit}

{modern steel fire pit by austin outdoor – you may remember me praising their mailbox/house number combo here}

{fire column by real flame burns “fire gel”}

{fire pit by ChimineaI’m not sure why it’s called the “Brad Pitt”}

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Hope you have many nights singing Kumbaya around your new fire pit!

A Fireplace makes everything better

I am spending a rare weekend away {sans children} with my husband at Skamania Lodge, along the Columbia River Gorge, in Washington. We’ve come here a half-dozen times, & what brings us back again & again is the massive wood-burning fireplace and the view {it’s definitely NOT the food}. The size of the logs used in the fireplace are gigantic.

Skamania Lodge Fireplace

Logs waiting for the huge Skamania fireplace

My favorite smell of all time is wood smoke {followed closely by the smell of daphne}. Cedar is best, and while on a crisp fall walk is the preferable time. But really, I like it at anytime and anywhere. Even when I go into a home where the fireplace isn’t properly venting and it has that weird, musty, wet wood smoke smell, I like that too.

I have a pretty short list of absolute wants in my next home:

1. Wood-burning Fireplace (2-3 would be nice too).

2. Some place that gets good afternoon sun for a garden.

3. Gas cook-top.

4. Potential.

I know…not closet space, not a huge master bath, not a 3-car garage, not even the more virtuous home attributes like hardwood floors & original charm. Those are all nice, but I think a fireplace covers over a multitude of house flaws. In one of our previous houses we took out the perfectly good, relatively new, gas insert and converted it back to wood.

Fireplace before (after insert was taken out)

Fireplace After (back to a functional wood-burning fp)

Some people thought it was weird and very un-modern of us. But other true fire lovers understood. I hear all the time about all the mess & effort of real wood – – but if you are honest with yourself is gas even remotely in the same category as homey, delicious, soothing, inviting, ancient wood fire? I think not! Here are some of my favorite applications of the wood-burning fireplace:

originally found at the elements of style blog

originally found at chictip.com

This Wittus design is my personal favorite because it can be added to a home that didn’t come equipped with a fireplace and has a real minimal beauty to it:

Wittus fireplace original found on trendir.com