How to build your very own stone Fire Pit!


Every summer, we tackle a handful of outdoor projects.  I thought this one was definitely worth sharing!

The hubs and I were sick of buying those metal outdoor fire pits that you find at just about any local home store.  They look nice for about 10 minutes before decaying into a pile of rust, transforming what should be a nice evening roasting marshmallows into a fearful game of ‘who’s up to date on their tetanus shot‘.  Not cool.  We were about to chuck our 5th one to the curb and go shop for another when I fell in love with the idea of a stone fire pit.  But I was shocked by the price tag: $1500 to $2000 (stones + labor).  Yikes!  I did a little more research and felt pretty confident we could buy the supplies and do it ourselves for a fraction of the cost.  I was right!  Got 2 hours and $233 dollars?  Great, keep reading for step by step how-to details.



  • 68 retaining wall stones: 17 stones per circle layer x 4 layers (the bottom layer is hard to see in the photo because it is 60% buried)
  • 3 bags of rock dust
  • 6 bags of pea gravel
  • Construction adhesive (glue)
  • Shovel, garden trowel, level, measuring tape, rope, rubber mallet, work gloves

stone wall landscaping

Purchase 68 small angled-curved retaining wall stones (they come in two sizes: small or large.  FYI ‘small’ measures 8 inches long x 4 inches deep).  You need the kind with a small curve and slight angled pie shape so that you can easily form a circle.  Otherwise, should you choose not to, you’ll need to take a week off work, polish up on your math skills and rent one of those stone cutters!!  Shop around and look for sales.  We purchased our stones for $1.77 each plus $35 for the delivery (trust me, you do not want to haul these babies in your car,  they weigh 20lbs each). They come in three shades which I can describe best as sandy-grey, red-grey or cement-grey.  You may want to buy a couple extra in case of breakage.


Start by deciding where you want the fire pit located and make a tight circle with 17 of the stones.  Outline the circle using chalk, move the stones out of the way and start digging a trench: about 6 inches deep and 10 inches wide.  Make sure it is level.  This will be the trickiest part.  Even the flattest of yards are not as flat and level as you think.  We used a small level and a large laser level combined with a measuring tape and rope in several different bizarre ways to make extra sure we had it all worked out before continuing.

digging for outdoor fire pit


Next, spread out the rock dust (about 2-3 inches deep of the stuff) and water it, walk and jump on it (this will help settle and stamp it all down) .  Then get back on your knees and make sure it’s level again.  You may find that you have to scrape a little rock dust off or add some in a few spots.

fire bit DIY how to build make your own

Grab one stone, set it in place and tap it with a rubber mallet, use a small level to make sure it’s,  well… level !  Then place another stone tightly next to that, and once again using a rubber mallet stamp it gently into the gravel dust, make sure it’s level and repeat another 15 times until first layer of circle is complete (17 stones per circle layer).  If you have the occasional stone that is not level you should only have to add or remove a little gravel dust underneath it, remember to stamp it to set it in place before you continue.

fire pit how to make DIY

building fire pit

Hooray! You’re done with the hardest part, now it’s time to finish this bad boy!

making a firepit

For the second layer you are going to sit each stone centered on the joint of the two stones beneath it (see photo).  Make sure to butt each stone up tightly against the other.  Repeat for the third and fourth layer.  Wooho you’re done …er…maybe.


OK.  I know what you’re thinking: “hey wait a minute, you have a square cut-out hole on the side of your fire pit -how come?“.  You don’t HAVE to do this, however I recommend it because the ‘holes’ are actually air vents and provide air flow and circulation (as you know oxygen helps to feed a fire and keep it from dying out too quickly).

This is what you need to know:  first of all there isn’t just 1 ‘hole’ air vent, there are actually 3 of them for a good cross breeze.  The air vents are spaced out along that second layer.  Which means the second layer will have 16 stones not 17.  Don’t worry, I hate math more than you know, but even I could figure this out!  Those 3 air vents are the equivalent width of 1 stone.  So when you lay down your second layer add a 1/3 wide space every 4 to 6 stones you set.  Next add the remaining 2 layers (17 stones per layer) as instructed above.


Fill the bottom with a bit of dirt or sand and a couple of inches of gravel (we used pea gravel).  Add a little back-fill to the front also (to fill in whatever gap is left between bottom 1st layer and your yard).  Sprinkle a wide border of pea gravel along the exterior, not only with this make it look more clean and finished, but for safety it makes sense to not have grass, mulch or anything flammable that close to the fire pit.

Finally when you’re happy with the fire pit, remove all but the bottom first layer and (gulp) put a dab or two of PL Premium Construction Adhesive under each stone as you re-build it.

WHAT?!?!! – you had me up until now! There is no way I am doing this DIY project!”

I know, I know.  BUT honestly this doesn’t take as long as you might think.  I should have video taped my husband: in all but 10 minutes the fire pit was put back together!! Because, the main work of levelling, the troubles you encountered along the way, the air vents you had to calculate …have all been sorted out – and now you and this fire pit are like old pals!  Of course you don’t have to glue it, but you run the risk of your fire pit looking misshapen after someone leans their big old feet on it one too many times:  Do it once, do it right!

DIY firepit how-to, gluing adhesive the stones


We did this project as a family.  It was a great learning experience for the kids and they were a great help at hauling the stones from the front to the back yard!  It took us only about a couple of hours, including a pic-nic lunch at the job site!  ;-)

The approximate cost breakdown was $233 (not including taxes).

  • $119 / 67 stones (1 less stone than original list because of air vents)
  • $35 / shipping
  • $48 / 6 bags of pea gravel
  • $20 / 3 bags rock dust
  • $11 / Construction adhesive
  • *We already had all of the tools required.

I know it was a bit pricier than buying a ready made metal fire pit.  However considering we probably won’t have to replace this one for years (a decade?) it will probably save us several hundred dollars.  Plus it adds so much character to the landscaping and makes for a more welcoming spot to entertain!

fire pit adirondack chairs

fire pit area and adirondack chairs





P.S. The eight charcoal Adirondack chairs are from Home Depot, and are plastic (of course I dream about having solid wood ones but these cost about 1/4 of the price, for now they’ll do just fine!).  The orange-red alternating lumbar pillows and Adirondack head pillows are from PC HOME (seasonal) which I scored for $3.44 each.  They didn’t have 8 left so I bought 4 of each and alternated one on each chair.  Talk about budget decorating!  ;-)

Thanks for checking in -let me know what you think.  Is this a project you might do in your own backyard?


* Versions of this article were published on Bob Vila on September 11, 2013. The Gazette Vaudreuil Soulange on September 26th, 2013.   DIY Home World on October 12, 2013 and on the cover of DIY Decorating Addict Magazine on May 20th, 2014.


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spruce up the old laundry basket


Spray Paint Strikes Again at The Oui Household

I’ve had this laundry basket for well over 15 years.  I bought it before this style became popular, inexpensive and available in just about every single department store known to man (yeah, that’s code for I paid a lot).  Recently I noticed that the chrome finish was getting splotchy and rusty.  Yuck.

rusty chrome metal laundry basket

It’s no secret that I am obsessed I like spray paint (FYI, yes you can spray paint your Christmas tree! more on that here). So rather than buy a new laundry bin or a can of silver-chrome spray paint -which I knew would require several coats to hide the rust and not really turn out as “chrome-y” and shiny as the real deal, I thought; Why not spray paint it a different color?

Krylon Gold Spray paint

Since I’m digging gold these days (more on that here) and I had a can of gold spray hanging around the house (who doesn’t am I right? LOL).  I went for it:

gold spray painted laundry basket

While the cotton lining was being washed with a little bleach and soap (something I do every couple of months) I decided to give the entire  thing (including the black plastic casters) two light coats of gold spray paint.  Nope, I did not use primer, or do any fancy prep work.  It was so easy to do and because the weather was perfect (no humidity, not too hot, a nice breeze).  It was dry and ready to use before the cotton lining was out of the dryer!  No joke.

spray painted laundry basket

gold painted metal laundry basket

gold metal laundry basket

What are you itching to spruce up with spray paint?


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8 artful ideas for your laundry room

We don’t often put too much thought into beautifying these busy spaces but regardless of whether your washing machine and dryer are tucked away in a small nook or large mudroom it’s a spot we have no choice but to spend time in!  Why not add a little eye candy?   Here are a few artful ideas which are sure to add a little character to your laundry area.



3. FUN


Hot glue and some bright red clothespin can transform a frame-less photo (or even a mirror!) into a focal point.  Laundry/Work room via Laundry Room Redesign

via The Cranky Queen

Get creative with clip art and a photo of your pet! via The Cranky Queen

via Feathers & Sunshine

For details on how to DIY this sign visit Feathers & Sunshine


If you’re into fashion how about requesting a high resolution photo of one of Sandra Backlund’s clothespin dresses?  (email : Office@1BeyoStudio.Se) – slip the pic into a frame and you have instant modern -and pretty cool, art!

5. 6. & 7. OFF THE WALL

Because art doesn’t have to hang on walls, how about putting wall decals right on your washer and dryer, buying a bright area rug or making your own DIY clothespin chandelier?


Often small rooms (like laundry rooms!) are the safest place to experiment and try something bold like a busy wallpaper!  Don’t have any wall space? -how about the ceiling?

Can’t commit to pricey wallpaper? Check out what Kristin over at the Hunted Interior did in her very recent laundry nook makeover: she lined the back of a shelving unit with dragon fly wrapping paper -so easy and inexpensive!  Cute-cute!

What’s hangin’ in your laundry room?  Feel free to share your comments below!

Pssst – looking for legitimate FREE art? click HERE.

*a version of this post was published on BOB VILA NATION, click here to view!


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Why not vandalize your furniture?


P.S. your kids (and their friends) will think you’re cool!

Why not graffiti an old dresser?  This is a question I recently asked myself.  It all started when I began sprucing up our Guest-Game Room, more on that here.  When shopping for a piece of furniture to house the Television and game console I checked out home decor boutiques, new furniture stores, antique and also second hand shops.  When I spotted this piece at Carrefour de l’espoir, I immediately fell for it.

vintage dresser TLC

$50, solid wood, in good condition and it had interesting architecture (in a plain square room, I didn’t want a plain, flat piece of furniture).  The only problem was that it had spotted yellow areas, probably from sitting in direct sunlight for a few decades and was a little too feminine.  However I knew a bold paint color could change the whole feel of that piece -but what color?

vintage white dresser

That’s when it hit me: a bunch of colors: Graffiti!! (more on that inspiration here) Since this room serves mainly as the kids game and toy storage I figured this would be the perfect time to try out this cool idea!

Once I had my spray paint and an a printed copy of my inspiration piece in hand I was ready to start .  My oldest and I hauled the piece outside and I began with removing the hardware and cleaning it up with an old rag and a few spritz of all purpose cleaner, then wiped it down again with a damp rag and let it air dry.  And just like working with a clean blank canvas, I gave the entire piece a couple of coats of white spray paint.

graffiti dresser DIY

Next I picked up a random color and started to vandalize my furniture.  At first it was weird and I felt awkward.  After I while though I became more relaxed and realized I needed to be right up close to the furniture …drips and runs are part of the charm!

DIY graffiti dresser HOW TO

My sons also suggested I not only zig zag random paint but try and write stuff, to give it a more realistic ‘tagging’ look.

graffiti dresser DIY spray paint

Once I was done.  I didn’t know what to do with the hardware.  I considered buying new ones but figured for now, I would save the cash and spray paint those too!

spray paint hadware

But it was only when I was ready to put the hardware back on the dresser that my daughter suggested I mix them all up -LOVE IT!

graffiti heart

graffiti DIY dresser

graffiti dresser with multi color hardware

Here it is (below) – complete and sitting pretty in the Guest-Game Room!  What do you think?  Would you ever consider vandalizing a piece of furniture in your own home?

graffiti dresser

GameGuestRoom3For more details on the Guest-Game Room Makeover room click here!

Thanks for popping by!


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The $100 Chalkboard & Graffiti Guest-Game Room Makeover

Many of us who are lucky enough to have a spare room in our home are often faced with the same dilemma: How to decorate it!  The reason this can be so tough is because these rooms can serve a multitude of functions:  From guest room, office or play room to junk room, overflow storage, exercise or hobby room.

Game Room / Guest Room BEFORE

BEFORE : Guest-Game-Where-Furniture-Comes-To-Die-Room

Yup.  Me too.  This (pictured above) is a room that is supposed to be a Game Room for my kids and Guest Bedroom for when they have either a friend sleepover or I have out of town guests come visit.  When we had the house built I didn’t put too much thought into the room except to paint it out a very white-blue color:  I wanted something light and bright since the room is located in the basement.  Other than that, the room is a mis-mash of furniture and accessories that didn’t work in other parts of the house.

Over a year ago it stopped becoming the Game Room because the old television we had in there broke and so the kids moved their gaming stuff to the big screen TV in our family room.  At first I didn’t really mind, but these last few months my teenage sons and their friends have been steadily taking over, to a point where I realized my daughter, husband and I were barely ever using our family room.  It was time to reclaim our space and put the defunct Guest/Game Room to work again!

AFTER Guest/Game Room

AFTER: Guest/Game Room

I blogged recently about some really inspiring chalkboard walls and my secret love of graffiti inspired home decor.  I decided this would be a great room to merge these two together!   I know what you’re thinking, that a room like this may not appeal to my er … um … older overnight guests.  But honestly, my kids and their friends will be using this room 95% of the time, so I think it’s more important for it to be fun hangout spot than to appeal to my old pals.  Plus, even though I personally wouldn’t want this look for my master bedroom, I would be totally fine staying here as a guest.  No guest room is ever perfect but I don’t think guests can complain too much when they have their very own bedroom with a door that locks, a walk-in closet and a full bathroom!


For more details on the DIY graffiti dresser click here!






THE LOWDOWN: I spent about $100 !

  • $50 used dresser
  • $20 can of black chalk board paint
  • $5 brush, roller and paint tray from the dollar store
  • FREE: almost new TV (from a family friend)
  • $1 chalk
  • $5 house plant
  • $20 three cans of spray paint (I already had some cans of paint)
  • STUFF I ALREADY HAD: clock, sofa-bed, funky handmade bowl to store chalk, throw pillows, blankets, vintage Goodform chair and X-Box.

I love how the TV seems to disappear into the black chalkboard wall (when it’s off).  Plants are my must-have home accessory, they add life, texture and softness for very little money.  For more details about the solid wood dresser I scored for $50 and how I went about ‘graffiti-ing’ it click here.  The leatherette bench-sofa turns into a double bed in a instant and has storage underneath to hide sheets, blankets and pillows!.

Check back soon for more DIY deets!

*This room was featured by Country Living Magazine  in their  ‘10 Ways To Turn An Empty Nest Into A Fulfilling Space‘  article / May 2014.


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Graffiti Inspired

Maybe because graffiti inspired home decor is so over-the-top original, unexpected and fun that I haven’t yet become tired of it.

graffiti home decor

photo via Made By Girl

Chatelaine / Armoire makeover

Chatelaine / Armoire makeover


photo via New York Times


photo via Big Beige Box

IKEA-Dresser/Catalogue 2014

Ikea / 2014 Catalogue

I’ve been itching to try this somewhere in my home -but where?  And how do u integrate graffiti walls or furniture without looking like your home was vandalized while you were on vacation?!   Well, I think I figured it out.  Last week I was pretty busy… stay tuned for my latest DIY!


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Metal wall art: how to make the BAD look GOOD.

Recently I gave my master bedroom a mini makeover, you can read more on that HERE.

The moment I introduced the two new white dressers on either side of the daybed I knew that the dark console table (leading to the master bath) and it’s vignette had to go!


am I right?

With my two existing night tables and now the new dressers, it just seemed like table-surface overload!  Plus, the decor suddenly clashed and seemed SO outdated.  I actually hesitated even mentioning this, because lately it has been pinning like crazy …still, totally not the direction I was going in anymore.  The abstract art (made by me) and table bought at Target are up for sale right now.

SO OUT IT WENT.  All of it.  I decided I would rather fill that wall up with a piece of art, but wasn’t feeling the vibe for framed photos or a canvas if it was going to be all alone.  There is also a (white) plug and a light switch on that wall (you can’t see it in the photos) which means anything square or rectangular would just play that up (am I the only one who sees this as visually irritating?).

ORGANIC ART. It would have to be!  Something shapely, like a metal wall sculpture.  You see them pretty much everywhere now, from your neighbors house to the doctor’s office.

BAD. photo via $69.99

Tree Metal Wall Art

BAD. via Sears $89.99

TO BE HONEST. I kind of hate them.  Typically, I don’t really like mass produced art, it doesn’t mean I don’t have any!!  But, I try my best not to buy it.   There is so much great art out there that just doesn’t compare to the ‘made in china’ stuff at all.

GOOD. photo via


GOOD. Photo via

GOOD. via Atlanta House and Home

HOWEVER.  Because I live in the real world where I do have limited funds (and so do my clients!), sometimes you just gotta get creative and work within your budget.  But I never give in to the ‘BAD’ or the ugly!  Just because you don’t have the cash doesn’t mean you can’t have a unique piece of art!

THE THING IS.  You’ll notice that the ”GOOD’ metal wall art is large with a real presence in its space.  Hard to get that with the flimsy little pieces you see at your local home store!

Fetco Home Decor Brinley Wall Art

BAD.  But could be very GOOD if you had several hung all together.  Via $35

HERE’S A THOUGHT.  Although tacky alone, imagine several of these ‘BAD’ pieces in a cluster hung closely together, to appear as one larger piece?!  (do you see it?).  Or imagine an entire wall covered -like 3d wallpaper.  So cool.  You could even spray paint them a different color!!  It may not be entirely custom art …but it would qualify as one of a kind, right?

Fetco Home Decor Ruth Abstract Circles Wall Art

BAD, but could be GOOD with three hung tightly together.  via $21.49

NOT CONVINCED?  Check out (below) my new wall installation in place of where that outdated console and vignette once was. I was lucky to find two medium sized pieces that were similar (not identical) and on clearance at HomeSense/HomeGoods!  Not sure if I will spray paint them or not.  Right now I am simply enjoying the feeling of that small (yet significant) change.  What are you’re thoughts?


BEFORE.  Cluttered and outdated.

Do you like the BEFORE or AFTER better?


AFTER.  Modern and airy.





Check back soon for more updates.  Actually, why don’t you just follow me on Facebook ?! I don’t just post blog updates but design inspirations too!

SHOW OFF.  Have you got a special metal art piece on your wall that you are loving and convinced it falls into the ‘GOOD’ category? I WANNA SEE IT!! Take a pic and post it on on my FB wall!



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