There is nothing more mesmerizing to me than staring into a fire. I could do it for hours. At the hunting camp growing up, I can remember ending every day hanging out at the campfire – not only because there was nothing else to do and it was freezing cold everywhere else, but because there was just something about the campfire. The heat, the people, the conversation, the dancing flames, the sounds…all of it hypnotized me. It did then…and it still does today.
About a year ago a close buddy of mine said that one of the only things missing from my yard was a fire pit. I agreed. I actually already knew where I wanted to put it, but I was stalling because it really wasn’t the time to be spending any money. But then I thought of those nights around the fire at the hunting camp – all that was really required there was some wood and a match…and you could have a nice fire. Every once and awhile we’d make it fancy by adding some rocks around it…but that was it. So I promised my buddy that I’d move my fire pit project up on the list so that we could start having “family fireside chats” sooner than later.
Our swing-set wasn’t getting the usage it once did yet it still occupied prime real estate in our backyard. You basically could see it wherever you were in the yard – which was good when the girls were young, but now not so much. So I thought….why not put the firepit there…I could move the swing-set to the lower portion of the yard. That would leave me a spot that was already level and perfect from all perspectives – traffic flow, visually from the house and when in the yard, etc.
From a design perspective, I really wanted to keep it simple: a) I didn’t want to spend much money; and b) I was doing it myself and I didn’t want the project to take up more than 1 or 2 of my weekends. So I decided to keep it incredibly simple…basically replicating a campfire. With the help of another friend, we moved the swing set and got to work on the fire pit.
- Using string I drew out 2 concentric circles.
- Along both circles I laid gray granite ruble strips. ( I actually didn’t even dig a hole in the center…never did at the hunting camp.)
- I shoveled in slate chips around the pit at about 2″ in depth. I was told that I should use “trail mix” (a combination of various sized slate chips and aggregate), but there wasn’t any available the weekend I “needed” it. But so far, so good…the mini slate chips are easy to walk on, compacted nicely, and nothing has washed away.
- I bought 4 inexpensive Adirondack chairs from Home Depot (less than $40 each)…that simply needed to be assembled and primed/painted. Then I flanked the chairs with stumps another buddy of mine cut up for me that serve as either tables or extra seating.
- [There are a few things I might change in the years to come…like finally digging a hole and possibly adding some fire bricks; adding a more attractive spot/way to stack our firewood; and Britt possibly would like to raise the pit itself and make it more permanent making a hearth of sorts that you could sit on along the perimeter of the pit – but we’ll have to see…that starts to depart from the campfire feel and it costs a lot more money.]
Our fire pit was completed in the heat of the summer and since it’s gotten cold enough for a fire we’ve been quite busy getting this blog started that we just haven’t used it as much as we’ve wanted to. But we have had a few fires with friends…each time leaving me staring at the fire until the wee hours. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to swing a “family fireside chat” with the buddy who got me moving on my fire pit project, (he’s a high school football coach and his weekends have been jammed). But we’re going to make it happen soon, very soon! I’m sure it will be just as appealing as it was when I was a kid – the heat, the people, the conversation, the dancing flames, the sounds…all lulling me to that familiar mesmerized state.
Do you have a fire pit? How did you decide on your design? What memories do you have sitting by the fire?
Below you’ll find a couple other pics of our fire pit during the day…