Let’s paint the barn red!

One of the reason’s we bought our house and property is because it had a barn. I wish I could take you through our thought process on this one, because we didn’t have livestock and we weren’t planning on getting any, either. It was more like – “How awesome would it be to have a barn?!” which is probably not the way to buy a house. The previous owners didn’t have horses either, and most of the corral fencing has fallen down, but they had re-sided the barn when they bought the house and cleaned it all out. It’s still pretty ready to go for horses, it needs two stalls rebuilt but is wired and watered and has the dirt and concrete flooring in there. In truth, it’s really just used as a glorified shed for now, but that doesn’t mean it needs to look like one.

The barn before painting through the bee balm.
The barn through the bee balm before we painted.

It’s pretty prominent in the view out of the picture windows, and while it didn’t look bad, it was lacking in the barn appeal department. But it had been recently painted and repaired, and with 2.5 acres to try to tame, we pretty much left it like it was. However, since we knew we would have lots of visitors due to the summer nuptials, we (I) thought it would be a good idea to freshen it up with a coat or two of paint. And really, what other color do you paint a barn besides red?

Blending into the snow
Paint samples
Paint samples – Poor Mr. Wow









I have long been enamored with photos of little stugas in Sweden, and fell in love with Falu red for the color. It’s a naturally occurring pigment left after production of copper, and named after a famous mine in Sweden called the Falun mine. You can actually try to import the paint, but I can just imagine Mr. WoW’s face if I ran that idea past the budget committee. But after a lengthy Google search, I ran across the recommendation of a Sherwin-Williams paint named Vermillion. I got a sample pot of that along with a pint of B-M called Million Dollar Red and used some of the left-over paint from the playhouse trim to see how they looked on the barn. Poor Mr. WoW, you know his heart just sank when he came home one day to find 3 large swatches on the side of the barn, next to the newly painted green barn door.  The playhouse color was a little too raspberry in a big area, and the Million Dollar Red looked remarkably like tomato soup, but we really liked the Vermillion red.  And Sherwin-Williams has a store right in downtown, and they were having a sale on their exterior paints.  Excellent!  We chose their Resilience paint – it was still getting cold at night, and it guarantees its application as low as 35 degrees.  We needed six gallons, so at $62.00 a gallon, their 30% off sale was a big savings.

Inspiration:  Red and white house in Kristianstad Municipality. Author: Väsk Date: June 2005
Inspiration: Stuga in Kristianstad Municipality. Author: Väsk, June 2005













The barn paint was in pretty good condition, so Kirk mostly had to give it a good power wash to get it ready.  He took down the downspouts and swept the roof, removed the sliding barn door and hardware for me to paint, and the hex sign and old Santa’s Village sign so they wouldn’t get sprayed.  We had soooo much left over Visqueen from installing the cork flooring downstairs, and because it’s nice and thick, it was really good drop cloth material around the barn.  He bought a sprayer last summer to paint the back of the carport, and so he was familiar with using that.  In theory you should use a primer, but our paint was in great shape, and we knew with the red that we would need to do two coats anyway so he went straight to painting.  Spraying is a one person job, so while he was busy with that, I was weeding the area (a never ending task), trimming foundation ferns, and painting the door and hardware.  Recallez-vous when I said the time to trim the ferns was in March?  Yeah, kinda wished I’d followed my own excellent advice then.  I got to most of them, but never made it around the barn.  This meant they were really overgrown, and also that loads of new fronds were coming up, so I had to take a very Zen approach to trimming the old branches out or I would take the new growth too.  So a job that should have taken about 30 minutes took closer to 2 hours.  I should listen to me more often.

Prepping the barn
Prepping the barn
One fern down, three more to go.
One fern down, three more to go.

barn hardware

Getting ready to spray black Rustoleum on track.
Getting ready to spray black Rustoleum on track.
Painting the hardware
Painting the hardware



















It took about three full 8-hour days to get it finished and back together, so it really took us about two week-ends to complete.  But worth it?  I’ll say.  It looks so beautiful.  I don’t know about you, but I’m often not confident about my paint colors and have had to repaint a room more than once.  But on this occasion, we got it exactly right.  (Luckily.  Even I don’t have guts enough to ask Mr. WoW to try again with another color.)   I’m not sure the photos do it justice – it is rich and lovely and works so well against the green of the evergreens surrounding it.  We’ve had endless sun this summer and it looks fantastic bathed in sunlight, but I’m also looking forward to that beautiful pop of color on the grey and rainy days that will be sure to come this winter.  And can you imagine how it will look in snow?  Just lovely.

Spraying the west barn wall.  The dog has much less red overspray on his fur than you might expect.
Spraying the west barn wall. The dog has much less red overspray on his fur than you might expect.
Spraying the south side



Painting the barn window trim and siding.
Painting the barn window trim and siding.
red barn
Spreading the gravel







Harder to camouflage while bear hunting next to the red.
Harder to camouflage while bear hunting next to the red.



























I can’t think the last time we made such a difference to the house for only $285.00.  Honestly, we can’t stop looking at it, and I’m sure we sound a little nutty with how often we stop to admire it.  Don’t you love it when a DIY project turns out even better than you hoped?

Red barn complete

As a lovely postscript, I want to give you a quick update to a previous post I did in fall.  I was writing about finally finishing the last details in our study, and an English reader in France asked about the gorgeous Painted Earth fabric I used, and did I have any more?  I only had two small lengths left over, but popped them into the mail to her.  And in return I received the loveliest note and gift!  She sent a pretty little embroidered towel she found at her local French market and I was so touched.  This is just the kind of connection I hope to make with others who love their homes and love working on projects to make them their own.  Plus she has an orange cat too, so I know we are kindred spirits!  Merci beaucoup, je suis très touché, Fiona.

Postcard and embroidered towel
French postcard and embroidered towel


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