...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Last summer Steve and I mentioned wanting a fire pit for the backyard and my dad and bonus mom must have been listening. They gifted us this fire pit for Christmas. So come springtime, I was itching to find some outdoor chairs to go along with it.

slat chairs unfinished

I found these folding patio chairs in unfinished pine and decided a pair of them would be perfect for a portable fire pit area. (We actually looked into having a stationary fire pit incorporated into a patio design off the back of the house a few years ago but all the landscapers we talked with cautioned against it. They said the majority of the time permanent fire pits end up being wasted space – at least in our area. They recommended a portable fire pit instead. One that could be moved and / or removed as desired.) An oiled version of the chair is available for an additional $60 per chair but I figured I could save $120 by oiling the chairs myself.

This is a constant mental battle I have: Do I spend the extra money to save time? Or do I spend the extra time to save money? With three kids running circles ’round me, these days – more than ever – I’m inclined to spend the extra money and save time. But in this instance, I decided it was worth it to oil the chairs myself. I mean, I would have to re-oil those oiled chairs at some point anyway so I might as well get familiar with the process, right?

tung oil

After reading up on oil finishes, I went with this 100% tung oil ($12). There’s a lot of conflicting information out there concerning tung oil vs. teak oil but I discovered that “teak oil” is really tung oil. Plus, pure tung oil (like the one I used) is non-toxic and that’s always a good thing in my book. I also like the fact that dilution isn’t required and it produces a natural, non-glossy finish.

I grabbed one of Steve’s old undershirts out of the Goodwill pile and used it to wipe on two coats of tung oil, lightly sanding between coats. To get in between the slats, I poured some oil onto the shirt then used it like floss. It was tedious but it didn’t take very long. I was liberal with the first coat and less liberal with the second.

unfinished vs oiled slat chair

That’s a side-by-side comparison of one chair unfinished vs. one chair with one coat of oil. It’s difficult to tell from these pictures because they were taken outdoors where the natural light brightens everything but…the tung oil really brought out the wood grain and gave the pine a warm, golden glow which I like. The oiled wood looks richer.

oiled slat chair

Here are the chairs finished with two coats of tung oil. Compared to the first image in this post, they are much warmer in color. But they aren’t shiny at all. I did not want a glossy finish. Immediately after oiling the chairs, they were a little greasy to the touch but after 24 hours the oil had soaked in and the chairs just feel smooth now.

firepit 1

I set the fire pit and chairs up in an unused corner of our backyard. (The fire pit was almost too easy to put together, requiring NO TOOLS. Yay for assembly that can be completed in five minutes with the “help” of a toddler.)

firepit 2

We’ve yet to light a fire but the pit is sturdy and I like that it came with a screen, cover and lift tool. And, yes, I am the person who uses a blanket next to a fire. During summer. Steve makes fun of me for being cold in the summer. What can I say? I chill easily.

firepit 4

The chairs are surprisingly comfortable and sturdy. I think the slats are close enough together that you don’t feel them individually. I love the low-slung profile and the natural wood.

Since pine isn’t the best outdoor material (teak would have been my preference but beyond our budget), I plan on bringing them up to the house when it’s raining. They fold up easily so I can carry them and lean them against the house under an eave. In the winter, I’ll be able to stash them in the attic or the garage. I love that they don’t take up a ton of space when folded. I plan to re-oil them every spring. I didn’t use that much of the tung oil so the $12 bottle should last a while.

firepit 3

All in all, it was totally worth the $12 and time (maybe an hour total?) it took to oil the chairs myself. The only thing left to do is pick up some graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Mmmm…

This past weekend we also got around to planting the side and back beds, pressure washing the house, patios & deck, setting up the rest of the outdoor furniture and brainstorming ideas to disguise our ugly electric meter. Things are looking and feeling so good outside (notice the grass?!) that I’ve almost forgotten about our brutal winter. Almost.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

21 Comments

20.May.2014

I love those chairs!!!!! BUT call me crazy, they look like a lovely home for spiders!!!!! Every time we sit out by the firepit I either get an earwig on me or a big spider! I rarely sit out there anymore :(

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20.May.2014

What a cute little area of your backyard! Those chairs are perfect!

When I graduated college, I moved into a big house with 4 of my good friends (it was actually awesome, not terrible) and we had a portable fire pit similar to yours in our backyard. We used it almost every weekend, even in the winter! One thing we didn’t think about was that you might want to move it around, or stick in a corner of the yard. We kept ours in the same spot in the middle of our yard for two years, and when we finally moved it, there was a giant circle of dead grass below. Oops! Fortunately our landlord was very nice about it!

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20.May.2014

So pretty! I would love a fire pit!

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20.May.2014

Hi! New commenter here. I just had to say how much I love your grass and trees! We love in Austin, Texas and have been in a drought for years now. We just xeriscaped our small backyard with crushed granite walkways and beds of native drought-friendly plants and a chiminea fire pit corner. We are using our chiminea as often as we can until we go on burn-ban again. I forgot how gorgeous the outdoors are in other parts of our country! Enjoy! :)

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20.May.2014

I agree with Jennifer P. We love our fire pit but made the mistake of putting it on the grass. It only took one time for the grass to die in our experience. Enjoy it though! Lots of good memories have been made around our fire! :)

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Those chairs are so lovely- great lines!

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20.May.2014

We had a fire pit like that, we put a large patio stone under neath it to prevent grass fire. Also, it only lasted us like 4 years because eventually the bottom just crumbled to bits. It was like it rusted out or something.

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replied on May 21st, 2014

Good to know. Honestly, it isn’t the fire pit we would have picked ourselves and, like I said, we haven’t used it yet so we’ll have to look into putting something underneath it. I guess we could always use it on our empty grilling patio away from the house. The bowl has a hole in it to let water drain but maybe that’s not enough? We’ll store the pit in the garage when it’s out of season to hopefully get more life out of it.

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20.May.2014

Yep, the fire pit won’t last. We’ve had one my mom got me for Christmas like 2 years ago and it began to rust immediately. The vinyl cover that came with it did not help. I would recommend making sure to not let standing water stay very long and store it during the winter if not using it. :-( Otherwise though, it is nice on cool nights even with the rust. And now for the positive, nice chairs!

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Love those chairs! Im always cold too, even in the dead of summer. Good to know im not the only one.

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21.May.2014

When my husband and I were in Belize we saw cute little teak chairs like this that were kid size. Almost bought some! So cute! I second the pit mat or some sort of bricks laid down to protect the grass from fire.

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21.May.2014

Nice chairs!
We’ve had a fireplace on our patio for several years and use it often. We started with a chiminea, which was good until it cracked and fell apart (about 2 years), then we had a metal one, but it was square and taller than yours. It also lasted about 2 years. We now have a permanent fireplace, but I think the reason it works so well is that it’s built against the brick retaining wall. We like this the best of all. One issue we’ve noticed with a fire pit like yours that’s open on all sides is wind blowing smoke and sparks. Not fun. But maybe that won’t be an issue for y’all with so many trees nearby.

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The chairs look great! I’ve been wanting a fire pit or chiminea for some time now too… This may have been just the push I needed to finally make it happen.

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22.May.2014

Hi Dana! I was just curious why you didn’t use Waterlox to protect your chairs like you did on your butcher block counters? My husband and I were getting ready to DIY some outdoor furniture and were looking into different options to protect it. The Waterlox Marine Sealer/Finisher looked like it would work well for us, but it is so expensive. Just curious if Hope’s Tung Oil would work the same? I looked up the cost and it is a lot cheaper in comparison!

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replied on May 23rd, 2014

Waterlox would be a great option! I just didn’t want a glossy finish. I really like the look of the natural wood.

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22.May.2014

I love those chairs! We are redoing our backyard, so I’ve enjoyed following your updates and furniture choices. I would love to have a fire pit, but am terrified with two small children running around. I’d love to hear what rules you might put in place to protect your kids around fire, or if you’ll save this for when they are asleep. Thanks, love your blog!

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29.May.2014

love these chairs!! so perfect for lounging in the backyard!

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24.June.2014

Where did you get that blue pillow? I have seen it numerously in your photos, but I can never find it. I am becoming obsessed with its cool pattern. Please share! Thank you

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replied on June 24th, 2014

Etsy! The shop is OrientalTribe11.

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29.June.2014

Congratulations on your lovely garden space.
Your chairs are even more gorgeous, finished with oil. Mind saying where you bought them?
Thank you!

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replied on June 30th, 2014

Fab.com!

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