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Our DIY Fire Pit and First Family Bonfire

We spent our Saturday making a DIY fire pit! It turned out just like we were hoping it would and it works great!

Here is our step by step process and our first family bonfire.

Justin and Titus started off this project by heading to Lowe’s Saturday morning. They filled the truck with all the supplies and even found some plastic Adirondack chairs on sale to add some atmosphere and help define the space. Someday we’ll invest in some nice wooden ones, but these do the job and they look great.

We opted for Dakota fire hole inspired fire pit with a vent to bring in extra air and hopefully create a fire with less smoke. We were able to pick up all we needed for this project for under $200 including all the items for the vent. This could be done for even less if you don’t do the vent or decide to have three levels of stones instead of four.

Here’s are the supplies for the fire pit:

If you want to do a vent like ours, pick up:

  • Dryer vent tube
  • Drain cover (plastic, 4”)
  • 2 adjustable metal rings
  • Black metal dryer vent

Other tools you’ll need:

  • Shovel(s) and a post hole digger if you have one
  • A level at least 3′
  • Caulking gun (for the adhesive)

First, we took 12 of the wall stones and layed them out where we wanted them. We made sure to follow our city’s fire code and placed it 15+ feet away from any structure and near enough to our hose for safety. (Each city has different fire regulations, make sure to check yours). We used the stones as a template and dug the shovel in behind each stone to mark the perimeter of the circle. We then removed the stones and dug the circle down 5-7 inches.

Next, we dug a hole in the middle about 12 inches deep and 8 inches wide. This is optional for drainage when it rains. This hole will be filled with small stones. We also dug a trench connecting the inside of the fire pit with the outside about 12 inches deep. This is the Dakota fire hole part of the project. We place a metal vent inside the pit and connected it to a dryer vent tube with an adjustable metal ring. The other end of the vent tube connects to the outside and is covered with a drain cover held on place with another adjustable metal ring. We go into more detail about this on our vlog video so make sure to catch that.

This is basically how the vent part should look when we fill around it with dirt. Justin is making sure the stones fit before leveling with sand.

We poured in two bags of leveling sand and smoothed it out. We placed the foundational stones in and used the level to adjust them in the sand making sure they were totally level.

We put a tube of masonry adhesive in our caulking gun and zig zagged it in the middle of the stones making sure not to get too close to the edges so it wont squish out the side when the next stones are layed on top. We bought four tubes to put between four levels of stones. We could have skimped by with 3 tubes, but we probably would have felt most comfortable with five tubes divided between the three spaces in between the layers. Think of it like icing between the cake layers except you don’t want any squishing out. As we added each level we staggered the stones so the cracks would fall in the middle of the stone above it.

Cosette trying it out before we added the fourth level of stones. Originally we thought three levels would be enough, but since we dug down about 7 inches we couldn’t see all three levels from the outside so we picked up more stones and adhesive in the afternoon to finish it off.

And here it is FINISHED! What a fun project! Here it is in the lovely sunset light!

We’re not fire pit experts and we managed to finish this project in about seven hours. This includes 3 hardware store trips and watching four kids during the process. That’s not bad. If you feel inspired to make a fire pit too feel free to ask any questions in the comments or on our Instagram. We are happy to help.

We decided to wait till the following night to do our first bonfire so that the masonry adhesive could dry. The fire pit worked perfectly and even continued into the night with friends after the kids went to bed. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We will be adding pea gravel around the pit soon for safety. We plan to also build a custom wooden cover for the pit when its not in use to make it a table and to keep the rain out (or keep our kids out of it. Haha!)







0 In Home/ Projects

Backyard Update: Two Dump Runs and What a Difference

A few weeks ago our big backyard was a vast wasteland of weeds. After the tractor came most of our yard was smoothed with a layer of wood chips. It was an incredible change.

This Saturday we put our focus on the shed in the farthest corner of our yard. It was messy and stacked with wood, bricks, tires and randomness. It looked awful. As a family we moved, organized and threw stuff away. After two dump runs our shed area started looking pretty nice. Watch our second ever vlog to see our day in a nutshell.

This is the before and after of our progress on Saturday. We used to keep all kinds of stuff thinking we’d use it someday. Now we have grown to LOVE throwing stuff away because it feels like a clean slate. We enjoyed filling our dump trailer up twice today. And now our shed is simplified and peaceful. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much closer to our vision.

Here is our pile of vintage bricks. These bricks are gorgeous with so much character. We unearthed these from our old patio near the house a few years after we moved in. They’re waiting for the day we build them into something new.

Boaz sitting on top of Justin’s old truck as we started work in the yard. This is him in his natural environment. Little clothing, feet covered in dirt and a stick of some sort not far away.

More beautiful, old wood for our many project ideas. We thinned out and organized our wood pile.




0 In Home/ Projects

Our Day with a Tractor

Our backyard went from wasteland to awesome-land in just a few hours with the help of a tractor. Now the weeds are gone and it’s a smooth blank canvas of wood chips for us to continue working on. This is a huge leap for our yard and the vision we have for it.

Our friend, Joe from our church, brought his tractor and two hard working dudes to level our wasteland and spread wood chips around our orchard trees. He even taught both of our boys to drive the tractor.

What an amazing day for our family. So blessed by friends. Can’t wait to continue creating this art across the whole yard!

0 In Projects

Our Farmhouse Table Transformation

Almost 10 years ago we bought this table from Pottery Barn. It was on major sale because it was a floor model and it already had scratches on the top. I though since I’m and artist and painter I could redo the top some time. Years went by and I never had time to work on it. That was fine because I was used to all the scratches and new scratches from my kids forks. I had been thinking I wanted to sand it down and do a natural top for a while so we just decided to do it a few weeks ago. The whole table was kind of a glossy black so we decided to repaint the bottom too.

Here it is in it’s oringinal well-used glory.

You know exactly where Titus our oldest sat because there was a line of demarcation scratched into the surface. Special.

Also, while I was cleaning the table leaves I discovered this. Who puts gum under the table?? I thought that’s only what rebel, delinquent kids did at school or an old diner! Surprises every day at our house.

We dragged the table outside (It weighs like 500 lbs.) and Justin started sanding it… This is where things got interesting. We disagreed about the type of sander to use. Justin said belt sander, I said orbital sander. Since he was sanding I let him choose his tool. Well, the high power sander was mistake number one. Mistake number two was me assuming that the table top was solid wood. It turned out to be solid VENEER over partical board. Awesome. So together we destroyed our natural wood top. Lol.

After accepting the reality of our mistakes we decided to keep going with our plans. I wanted green based off another legit chippy farm table we just got for our kids to do homework at (I’ll show you that later). I pulled out my fan decks and chose a similar color (Behr Equestrian Green, interior eggshell) then had it mixed. After Justin finished sanding the rest of the table I got to work painting it. I also had my little helper for part of it.

I love this green color. It was making me so happy. I also used 150 grit sandpaper to buff down the shine out of the eggshell paint without sanding all the way through to the bare wood. I love how that turned out.

We continued with our plan to clear varnish the table top with no stain and let the partical board show through for now until we can replace the wood top completely with new solid planks. The only difference with the varnish is I used a water based satin varnish for the temporary top instead of the oil based matte boat varnish I will use when we have our final top. (The boat varnish is about $100 a quart so I’ll save it for later). FYI oil based varnish is best for dining room tables since there’s a lot of water and grease that gets on it (think kids and pizza). Water based varnish can absorb water and make drink rings and such. It leaves a cloudy spot.

Anyways. When we put the final top on I’ll show you how we do it with all the right stuff. For now we’re making it work.

Ok, so I got done painting the table outside and I was pretty happy with it. I thought it looked cool with the colors and farmhouse look. It was weird though, when we brought the table inside I didn’t like it. I don’t know what it was. It may have been that I wasn’t used to the lightness of the table in that spot, or that there was an ugly kid booster seat attached to the chair pushed up to the table. I have no idea, but for days I was like, “oh gosh… why don’t I love this?” I set some blooming peonies on the table in a giant mason jar and just put the table out of my mind for a while.

I noticed I slowly started to warm up to the table. I got rid of the booster seat and the peonies continued to bloom. I wiped the table down a few times and swept the floor around it. I walked past it a bunch of times. I am starting to like it. Really like it. It could be the peonies, but I think it’s the whole thing. So, I took pictures of it this morning in the early morning light. I definitely like it.