The fire-pit area and benches are now complete and ready to enjoy. I am so happy with how it turned out, and know we will be enjoying it for years to come.
I was having a hard time finding a seating idea that would be good for around a fire-pit area, look great, fit into my budget, and be something we could easily build, so when I found the benches in this picture above I was ecstatic because the design seemed to fit everything I wanted. Only problem was that I was going to have to make the plans on how to build them.
It only took Ryan and I a couple dozen sheets of paper, three recalculations, a bad google sketch-up, and a couple of nights standing in the backyard in the dark staring at the corner to figure it out. The wood and supplies probably cost us about $250 which was pretty good for custom made to fit outdoor benches that we could make to look exactly how we wanted.
We first started by building two simple frames out of regular 2x4's and screws. Then covered the frames in 1x3 wood with spaces in-between each board to get the look we wanted, and to leave room for expansion and contraction of the wood itself. We had some extra help on this part of the project since the Missionaries living in our basement wanted to help out. One of them was a farm boy from Arkansas that has carpentry going back in his families blood for generations. I am also now convinced that there should be a farm boy work exchange for west coasters. Have a young farm boy stay with you for free during the summer in exchange for work around the house. They get to see the west and you get to get some work done by a kid who thinks your yard and projects are nothing, because he is used to building whole barns with their grandfather on a friday afternoon.
We used a compound miter saw to cut all the wood and a nail gun hooked up to an air-compressor to nail in each board. Calculating everything was for-sure the more complicated part of this project the building was pretty straight forward and simple though. We did however end up using tile spacers to space out each piece of wood, so much for all our precise calculations. Sometimes you just do what works, and use what you've got to get the job done.
Once the benches were built we sanded them down as best we could. The wood we used was not of finishing quality, but that is what kept our cost down.
Then I used what is still my favorite tool every, my Earlex hv 3500 spray station to spray an exterior wood stain onto the finished benches.
We went with a deep brown stain called Coffee Bean by General Finishes to match the color of mulch we will be using in the front and back yard, and to mimic some of the wood furniture pieces that we have inside the home. General finishes is the only brand I would trust for indoor and outdoor stains, paints, and topcoats for furniture. Their products are of such great quality and when you have worked so hard on something you do not want to throw all that hard work away, by using a bad product in the last step.
Besides the stain I also opted for a semi-gloss exterior topcoat, which is not really necessary, but gave it that extra finished look I wanted.
Then all that was left was just taking it around to the back, positioning the benches together, and leveling them out with the gravel around the fire-pit.
I also bought two outdoor bench cushions from Walmart in a black and white demask pattern to match and tie in with the black shutters and exterior doors around the house. Then I brought in some mix and match blue outdoor pillows from Ikea that were a steal of a deal. In-fact I took back some other pillows that I had bought at Home Depot just to buy more of these, and I am glad I did. The other nifty thing I added to these benches was hinged doors in the back so that I could possibly store the bench cushions, fire pit insert, hammock, and or Jayna's sand toys during the winter.
The thing I am loving too about this project is that even though we have an outdoor dinning set around the other side of the house I can bring that table right over to the fire-pit area and put it right over the fire pit and have a great big dinning area if I want with plenty of seating. And it is the perfect spot to sit for backyard movie night.
We even took family pictures on the benches right before the Pioneer Day party I hosted. My heart was
swelling with pride that the whole family was gathered around my hard work for pictures.
If you have any questions about this project or any of the products used feel free to contact me.