DIY Mosaic Stepping Stone with Key Hider

DIY Mosaic Stepping Stone with Key Hider

Getting locked out of the house is not fun at all, is it? It happened to me once, and that was all it took. From that day forward, I decided to make sure it would never happen again. And since I love garden stepping stones as outdoor decor, I decided to combine the idea of a mosaic stepping stone with key hider. And I’d upcycle a couple of items to make my vision come to life!

To test my upcycling idea out, I needed an inexpensive cake pan from the thrift store.

Why a cake pan? To serve as a mold for creating a mosaic stepping stone.

Cake pans at a thrift store

Once I found the perfect cake pan (those handles really come in handy, BTW)- I assembled a few other components that I would need:

  • Push-down child-safe pill bottle (not the “pinch-from-the-sides” kind…) that is big enough to hold your house key;
  • Clear laminating sheets or clear contact paper; and
  • Mosaic supplies, such as sea glass, broken pottery, glass mosaic tiles, and/or glass gems.

Craft supplies for DIY mosaic stepping stones

Now I was ready to put my idea and project to the test!

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Creating a Mosaic Design for a Stepping Stone

First, I needed to create my mosaic design. To do so, I used clear laminating sheets (leftover from last year’s Christmas lantern project).

Why? The glass mosaic tiles needed to go on the bottom of the baking pan and the sticky sheet will hold the design in place.

So, I traced the bottom of the cake pan on a laminating sheet.

Making a design for a mosaic stepping stone

Then, I cut out the tracing and trimmed it until it fit perfectly in the bottom of the pan.

Designing a mosaic stepping stone in a cake pan

Next, it was time for the fun part: creating my design!

To make it super easy on myself, I used the border/frame of my laminating sheet as a guide to design my mosaic. I simply laid out my tiles and gems inside the circle so I knew it would fit!

Making a mosaic stepping stone with glass gems

Then, I peeled off the paper from my circle, pressed it on the glass mosaic tiles, and made sure it looked a-ok!

This is why I recommend using clear sheets – so you can see your design!

Tile and glass gems for a DIY mosaic stepping stone

With mosaic design in hand, I was ready to make the actual stepping stone!

Stepping Stone in a Cake Pan with a Key Hider

First,  set aside my mosaic laminating sheet and liberally coated the inside (bottom and sides) of the baking pan with nonstick spray.

This is a CRITICAL step to ensure that my mosaic stepping stone would release from the pan when the concrete had thoroughly dried.

Lubricating a cake pan before adding concrete mix

Once the pan was sprayed, I laid my mosaic circle in the bottom of the pan: colorful tiles facing the bottom of the pan, non-pretty sides of the tiles facing up to meet the concrete.

Next, I mixed up a small amount of Quikcrete and began filling my lubricated cake pan.

How to make mosaic stepping stones

Because this is a decorative stepping stone that will never be stepped upon, I didn’t add any metal mesh re-enforcement inside the concrete. Instead, I filled up the pan with my Quikcrete, and tapped it on my workspace counter to remove air bubbles (like it was cake batter- ha!).

Then, my last step- and the true test of my upcycling idea to create an outdoor key hider.

I took my empty pill bottle, and carefully pushed it in to the center of the wet concrete. 

Making a stepping stone with key hider

And as you can see, I only pushed it in near the lip of the cap, but didn’t go over (important!).

I let everything sit for a day or two, and then the big moment arrived- did my upcycling idea for a mosaic stepping stone with outdoor key hider work?

First, I unscrewed the pill bottle first and the cap remained firmly embedded in the concrete- HURRAY! Then, I carefully turned my pan over and my stepping stone popped out with ease.

THAT’S why the non-stick spray is so important.

After that, I simply peeled off the laminating sheet circle that had kept my mosaic bits in place.

Finishing a stepping stone with outdoor key hider

Before placing it in the yard, I coated the exposed concrete with polyacrylic to seal out water and weather. Then, I dug a small hole in a flower bed for the pill bottle to hide in.

DIY Mosaic Stepping Stone with Key Hider

See? It looks like a regular mosaic stepping stone in a garden, right? Nothing out of the ordinary at all…

DIY mosaic stepping stone with key hider

But you and I know that the secret is underneath! Plus, you’re really repurposing twice, right? First with the cake pan and then with the pill bottle.

Outdoor key hider

And if you’re really industrious, you could make your own recycled mosaic supplies by taking some glass nippers to vintage dishes from the thrift store.

Now to really test my project. Because the child-proof lid is permanently embedded in the concrete, I just pushed the bottle down and turned.

And it opened like a charm, easy-peasy. My upcycling idea worked out better than I ever could have hoped!

Cake pan stepping stone with key hider

If you’re worried about security (i.e., leaving a key outside), here are some alternative ideas:

  • Make two stepping stone key hiders, one for you and one for your neighbor. Keep your house key in the stepping stone key hider that’s in their yard and vice versa.
  • Use your stepping stone key hider to hold a different key- maybe to your garage or shed- and hide your house key inside one of those places.
  • Put a lock box key in your key hider, hide the lock box somewhere else (where you won’t forget it), and put your house key in the lock box.

There are plenty of options and you’ll never get locked out again. And besides, making these garden stepping stones is an awful lot of upcycling fun.

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for a stepping stone, then you’ll love these decorative garden stones that were made by upcycling some jelly moulds from the thrift store, as well!

Upcycling the copper molds to make the decorative garden stones

 I’m also SO excited to announce that my first book has been released and is available for purchase! If you love flannel fabric and easy-to-follow fabric crafts, then I think you’ll love this book as much as I do.

Craft book for flannel shirts

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Fabulous, creative and so useful too!
    Thanks for joining us at TOHOT!

  2. Smart! Nobody would ever guess. 🙂

    Happy Thoughts of Home.

  3. Gilmer Gal says

    Cute and clever!

  4. Now that’s a great Idea! I may have to try it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. sticksnpins says

    Great idea and very doable for the not so adept crafter 🙂

  6. Such a great idea!

  7. It is cute and I absolutely love the idea ♥

  8. Fonda Rush says

    As I started reading this entry, I had an idea. I think it’s something Tuula would do. (At least, I think that’s who would do it, although I can’t remember the blog name right now. She makes wind chimes out of all kinds of vintage goodies.) Anyway…It would be interesting to make a wind chime out of keys, but only the homeowner would know which one to use to open which door!

    I haven’t locked myself out of my house, but it still might be a good idea to have a key outside the house…just in case!

    I like your idea, too…it adds a decorative touch to the garden or the yard. Thank you for sharing!

  9. What a great project! Clever.

  10. What a cute and clever project! I love it. Pinned.

  11. You always have such unique and fantastic ideas Sarah! I haven’t worked with concrete yet, and your instructions are super clear and easy! Love this idea!

  12. LOVE this idea! And I love how you made your design on the clear sheet first. Much easier than playing with wet concrete. I’ve been thinking up ways to leave a key outside and this is great. Visiting from Inspiration Galore party.

  13. Now that is a clever idea!! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party-and don’t forget to leave a comment at the party – Next week’s features that also leave a comment get pinned and tweeted!

  14. Wow, this is a great idea. Cleaver and beautiful. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party. It’s great having you.

  15. Great idea for hiding a key outside and a fun project to boot. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm.

  16. Super fun! Love this sneaky idea girl! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Sharing on Fb & Pinned! Have a great week!

  17. Sarah, what a clever and very useful idea. We have a fake rock for our key. I’ve done a lot of mosaics and it’s a wonderful art medium. Thank you for sharing at Your Inspired Design.

  18. Oh this turned out so cute!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  19. Genius!

  20. Love this DIY! Your being featured this week! Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight Pinned & sharing

  21. But why not reinforce this concrete to make real stepping stones? My question is…how would you do that? Would you use wire mesh after a layer of sac-crete that’s even with the reverse side of the mosaic…then another layer of sac-crete, then another circular wire mesh…then another layer of sac-crete, then the last wire mesh level with the pan edge (with a center circle cut in one of the stones’ wire meshes to hold the pill bottle)? What kind of wire reinforcement? How many layers of reinforcement? Would the perimeter of the sac-crete along the pan need reinforcement? Or would the stone do better with a steel cross-bar, for instance, like a lug nut wrench? Or maybe a different concrete mix? Or would the stone just crack if I walk on it, no matter what I do? I would be making a walk-way of about 20 stones…

  22. Gonna do this. How many stones can you get out of a bag of quickcrete?

  23. Will be doing this! How many can you get out of a bag of quickcrete?

  24. Margie Rossman says

    How do you keep cement from covering the design. I used the half marbles and somehow they get cement over them. I have made 6 of these and have the same problem,

  25. Love this idea, the design, your detailed instructions And your safety tips! Bravo ??

  26. This is a great idea. I’very used something similar to this and in addition to adding a single key… I coated it in petroleum jelly to prevent rusting. My first key rusted and wouldn’t work!

  27. Ok, LOVE this idea. But, as I am sitting here reading this in Minnesota, middle of winter, everything outside covered with snow & ice (including flower beds), I am wondering what could be done to make and use these without making it obvious there is something special about them because they are the only thing NOT covered with snow & ice.

  28. Cute! Just to clarify, the contact paper is in the bottom of the pan with the tiles placed on the adhesive side, colorful side DOWN!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      You got it!!! Think of it this way- you’ll be carefully turning the pan over to remove your stone (like a cake) and will just peel the contact paper off the now-top of the stone!

  29. Very clever Sarah, and so pretty! I love how it turned out. Thanks for the tutorial, I believe I could do this! Pinning!

  30. Have a pill bottle glued to a rock,I love your idea and can’t wait to make some.

  31. Pauline Sodermark says

    Nice! Not a question but if you ever save broken plates, especially antique ones, those can be used in the mosaic. Saving memories as well.

  32. Brilliant on so many levels! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  33. Will this work with solely concrete mixture! Amazing diy

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I’m not sure what you mean, Maria? I didn’t mix anything into the concrete but water. Some people put a square of metal mesh in the concrete to reinforce it, but since I don’t step on my stones, I didn’t do that.

  34. This is amazingly clever! I’d make a bunch of them and set them out as décor around plant and flower beds. Then it would be less obvious that one might be hiding a key. A bunch of them could discourage anyone looking for a key – it would take too much time. Thieves want to get in and out quickly so pulling things up in someone’s front yard would be too visible and too obvious.

    (Just don’t forget which one you put the key under!)

  35. I loved your idea. My late mother kept the front door key under the overhang of the foundation near the back door. You invariably needed the key when it was raining or knee deep in snow! And needed to be a contortionist to twist and reach up underneath to find it! Your way is SOOO much more elegant!

  36. Lyndia McCorkle Bailey says

    Yes I think this is a great idea !

  37. Rhonda J.Palacios says

    Love this idea,been locked out 2x in 4months ,so will try doing this ! Thanks so much very beautiful!

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