When my hubby and I moved to Santa Barbara and bought a house six years ago, we knew we wanted to embrace the California outdoor lifestyle. This meant adding things like a hot tub, an outdoor shower, and a place to gather…a fire pit. While my husband has incredible faith in my ability to design gardens (as I did in Connecticut), I knew that with irrigation, electric, gas lines, and poured concrete hardscaping, I was in way over my head!
We brought in Jeffrey Gordon Smith of JGS Designs to come up with a landscape plan that would implement all of our wants, and our friend Jay Hanseth of Hanseth Construction to create it. For this post, I’m going to focus on the fire pit. After tweaking the plan to our specifications, we were ready to break ground. Let me first say that the yard was lovely when we bought it, but never used.
I’ve lived through many projects (after all, I’m the daughter of a building contractor) but was not quite prepared for this. Living in an open concept home that is mainly glass is the best…except when you have a crew of workers at your home day in and day out. Then it’s more like living in a fish bowl. Most of the old concrete had to be jack hammered out (you can imagine how much me and the neighbors enjoyed that) and there was dirt and dust everywhere (even with the windows closed)!
My husband was back on the East coast, and our designer lives in Los Osos, about an hour and a half away, so it fell on me to make sure that everything went as planned and to make decisions as they came up. For the most part, things went smoothly until the fire pit. I won’t bore you with the details of moving gas lines, trying to get the concrete truck near enough to pour the slabs, and the list goes on. Jeffrey and I had discussed at length the way we wanted the fire pit to look. We were going to use local stone and it would be free form and organic. The patio would be made up of poured concrete slabs surrounded by a curved stone bench.
I arrived home from the grocery store and went to check out the progress. Horror ensued as it was nothing like I had envisioned my dream fire pit! To make matters worse, Miguel, the stone mason does the MOST amazing work and takes such pride in it. How would I tell him that this was not at all what I wanted? It looked like a perfect circle that some campfire girls would sit around.
I quickly shot a picture to Jeffrey who agreed with my assessment and then called Jay. He came over right away, and had the fire pit dismantled in no time. We ended up using some new boulders and even one from our yard. They maneuvered those huge boulders into a more natural formation and configured them so that when sitting by the fire, you could rest your feet on the boulders. Success!
Things moved smoothly after the boulder incident. A set of lava rocks went down (they are pretty ugly if truth be told) and then mesh, and then some small glass pieces that look just like licorice jelly beans!
The fire pit has become such a favorite spot at the Little Glass House. My husband loves to meditate by the fire in the morning and play the guitar there in the evenings. It has become the go to spot after dinner whether it is just us or we are hosting friends. I have cushions for the stone bench/wall and with the chairs and sofa we can accommodate quite a large group around the fire! When we are all sitting around the fire pit with a glass of wine staring at the stars, I’m still enthralled by this outdoor California way of life!