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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Filtering by Tag: firepit

Create a Hip Backyard Centerpiece with a Fire Pit

Chelsea O'Donnell

Fire pits are a major backyard trend right now and one that I personally enjoy on many summer and autumn evenings when the temperature gets cooler. If you’re thinking about building one in your backyard, there are several options to consider depending on your set-up and preferences. Let’s dive into a few of the most popular choices.

 The number one consideration for an open fire is always safety over aesthetic. A fire pit creates a beautiful ambiance that can be enjoyed by the whole family, but a fire is always something to be very cautious about. Make sure to check with your town to understand the rules around bonfires and fire pits before you get started. As an example, according to the Fire Department FAQ’s on the Bristol, Connecticut website, open burning in a chiminea, fire pit, or patio hearth is allowed as long as the fire doesn’t exceed three feet in diameter and does not extend beyond 1am. Again every town is different, so be sure to check with your fire department first.

Once you have the all clear, it’s time to start thinking about the look you’d like to achieve and the space you have available to you. For smaller patios, the most popular options are generally chimineas or fire bowls which are not affixed to the ground and can technically be moved around. When buying a freestanding unit, be sure to invest in one that’s heavy enough so it won’t tip over, and always utilize a fireproof mat underneath, especially if you’re using it on a deck or wood surface. 

If you’re trying to choose between a chiminea and a firepit or bowl, think about whether or not you’re planning to use it for any kind of cooking. I like pits or bowls over chimineas because you can always throw a grate on top for sausages or access the flames for s’mores.

For something more permanent, the most popular fire pit building materials are brick, stone, and concrete. All three materials are very sturdy and will handle a fire just fine, so the choice of materials really depends on your home aesthetic and the budget for your job. Concrete will generally be less expensive while high-end stone can run you several hundred dollars.

What’s even more important than the material, of course, is space. The last thing you want is to build a fire pit to then realize that there isn’t enough room for friends and family to sit around it. A nice pit for four should be about three feet wide, plus you’ll want to leave a two-foot gap between the rim of the pit and where your chairs will sit to ensure no one gets toasty shins. When it comes to height, I recommend building slightly lower than the seats of your chairs to ensure that the fire is appropriately surrounded but still has enough room to let off plenty of heat. Now sit back and enjoy!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.

Beautify Your Yard with These Alternative Landscaping Trends

Chelsea O'Donnell

While beautiful grass is often considered to be a homeowners pride and joy, today we’re seeing lots of alternatives in landscape design that offer more dimension, better mixed-use opportunities, and less maintenance than the traditional green that we’ve come to know and love. With so many planting options and warmer weather stretching well into the later months of the year, now might be a great time to start planning a few refurbishments to give you a new look and better use of your outdoor space. Here are some ideas:

No More Mowing: For people who love the look of grass but can’t stand the maintenance, no mow “smart lawns” have begun cropping up as an option for residential spaces. Products such as Eco Lawn and No Mow Lawn Mix offer fast establishing grass that then grows slow, requiring only a few mows per year if any at all. Many of these products also thrive with minimal water and their deep seeded roots are able to grab nutrients, meaning less fertilization and chemical treatments.

Play Space: The rec room has always been a popular option for young families, but why not designate a place in the yard for fun too? For people who don’t like weeding, creating a designated area to enjoy games is a great way to entertain guests and keep kids occupied for hours. Popular choices include long sand or stone pits which can be used for horseshoes or cornhole, or paved areas that can double as a croquet or bocce court.

“Hygge” Time: One of the big trends of the year is creating a space dedicated to comfort, coziness, and mindfulness. “Hygge” (pronounced hue-gah) is a Scandinavian term that’s used to describe the feeling of comfort and coziness, which has become popular indoors in the form of meditation rooms and dedicated reading nooks. That concept is now making its way outside, with homeowners embracing the longer seasons of comfortable weather by building cozy fire pits and stone wall enclosed zen gardens for quiet contemplation.

Contained Gardens: Everyone loves the idea of homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but few of us have the time to prepare and look after a large garden. For a lower maintenance approach, try potting your favorites in large planters that you can place closer to the house. Tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and beans are all space savers that can survive and thrive in smaller containers.

Outdoor Living: Probably the biggest - and most expensive - ongoing trend is creating an additional living space outside of the house. From synthetic decking to full blown outdoor kitchens, more and more people want to come home and relax outside after a long day in the office. Pizza ovens, barbecue courtyards, and the ever famous outdoor bar are just some of the options that homeowners are continuing to invest in to enjoy now and add value potential to their home when it comes time to sell.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only