I mean, I’ll be damned if staining the barn didn’t add a few $$$$ to our property’s value. Not that we’re planning to sell, but if it’s going to be more than just for looks, it’s wise to direct efforts into DIY projects that would be worthy of a good return, right?
Like I mentioned when I kicked off the project last week, and as you can see above, the barn on our property has been a big eyesore as long as we’ve lived here, and probably for a few decades before that. Check out the original tour of the barn in this separate post (it has stables!).
I didn’t have to make a huge investment for this project to happen–that was part of the appeal–and that’s because we had a lot of the things we needed. A full list of materials that I used, excluding building materials like extra pieces of cedar shake shingle and nails:
Beginning-to-end, this project only needs to take a couple of days. It took us 4 days, in between work and other things. It was a good opportunity to let our older girls participate, too. Julia, who’s 10, was able to test out the spray gun and learn how it worked. Hattie, who’s 3, helped me paint the doors. And we found that sometimes painting at 7:30am on a Saturday is just the zen we need to add to our routine.
While you’re checking out some of these before and after photos, I’ll mention that the only thing we’re really mildly disappointed about is that we chose a gray shingle when the barn was roofed. That decision was made so that the barn would match the house, and now we’re curiously asking ourselves if it would look super dumb to spray stain our shingles to be brown… yes? no? yes? I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it, and if it continues to bother me I might be inclined to correct it.
We started with a couple must-do repairs – scraping bubbled paint and some green, thriving moss off the bottom of the garage door so that the surface was smoother (still totally imperfect, we’ll have to replace the door if we expect it to look better), and replacing cedar shakes that were missing, loose, or rotten on the front and sides of the barn. We found a box of the original shakes at the house when we moved in, which was handy.
The angle that I showed you last week got a lot better, really fast:
I wasn’t sure how well the stain was going to adhere and cover when I started, so I began on a wall that’s out of my daily line of sight. I blocked off the windows with newspaper and painter’s tape (and evidently forgot to remove it from one window when I snapped the “after” photo) and applied the spray in a thin coat. It was really drippy, but more so than I attribute that to the water-to-stain ratio, it didn’t help that the cedar shakes have natural vertical grooves that welcome runny stain, and the surface had been painted and unprepped for stain adhesion (other than me lazily blasting it with a leaf blower to remove any cobwebs and dust). For what it’s worth, I used a 50/50 mixture of the stain and water, stirred it well in a container, and then poured the mixture into the paint gun reservoir. You can get away with a 70-stain/30-water ratio if you are going to clean the nozzle pieces at each refill, which is probably the #1 tip written in the “get to know your paint sprayer before using it” pamphlet. Didn’t read it, and you probably won’t either.
What I’m saying is, the combo of vertical grooves + painted surface + diluted stain wasn’t the perfect recipe for stain to soak in on contact, so it probably took a bit more product to get the coverage we expected. Nonetheless, with a few hours of dry time between coats, the layers of stain did result in a nice, rich chocolate finish.
I mean, look at that!
The lesser photographed barn entrance leads down a hill to the lower level, built on a hillside. The path was virtually non-existent for a long time, but Pete has spent a lot of time clearing brush to create our ability to see through the woods, and removed a lot of trees and bushes that cluttered the path.
A little bit closer now (evidently I was so horrified of documenting how bad it looked… I only have a few photos of it):
I shared a photo of Pete on Instagram while he was up on the ladder reaching some high spots, but the barn finished from this angle really makes the whole project feel worthwhile.
A few things to note:
Recap: If you’re planning on a quick makeover, I highly recommend a paint sprayer. Minimal effort payed off here, but keep in mind that you’ll want to do an appropriate amount of prep work to the underlying surface… the better the prep, the longer the new finish is going to hold up to the elements.
I just set out to update the look of our barn, referring to it as my “lipstick on a pig” project. The barn–which looks like a garage but isn’t a garage since the real garage is attached to the house where we park our cars–rests at the back of our property, and for awhile was well-disguised by excessive brush. Every year we clear and prune back more and more of those weed trees, creating a cleaner line of sight to the disheveled structure, and it looks pretty bad, I’m well-aware. We’re even rocking the classy combo of rusty fence + old lawn chairs + an old gas mower held together with metal tape.
You can barely tell from the above picture, but barn’s been a WIP since we moved in; we started in on maintaining our back acre immediately upon moving in, and now can hardly remember a time when the barn was so surrounded by leafy overgrowth that it was invisible. It’s times like this that I’m glad I photo-document all of the things.
Back to the pig. In an ideal DIY world, we’d spend a few days replacing shingles that are damaged or missing, replacing both doors on the upper level, repairing trim (I’m not exaggerating when I say that 99% of it needs to be replaced), and installing gutters prior to staining and painting. In our world, we’re embarking on the fifth summer in our home, and I just recently noticed that the neighbor’s beautiful patio and fire pit stare directly at our haphazardly maintained barn; oh, the horror. I’m going at it the easy route with a few gallons of stain and paint to 1) make it tolerable and borderline pretty; 2) camouflage minor issues; 3) and do a deep assessment of what actually needs to be replaced so I can tackle it slowly in coming months or years.
I’m using the same opaque stain that we used on our backyard treehouse, Oxford Brown by Olympic. It has held up really well on the treehouse, and it’ll help the now pastel yellow-colored structure blend in more to the earthy surroundings. All that’s to explain why I brought home a big 5-gallon jug of the stuff this week, which cost around $180 if you’re keeping tallies on how much it might cost to do a cheap-o makeover like this one, and insisted on getting started on this project while I had a few rain-free hours this morning. If Day 1 was any indication, I’ll need a couple of coats.
Time to get busy.
We took a week-long vacation in Casablanca, Morocco for a wedding – that was more than 4 years ago – and ever since I’ve been searching for my own moroccan area rug inspired directly by the ones we had adorning our hotel room.
The Moroccan influence was just kicking off in the states at the time, but prices on quality vintage products quickly climbed, climbed, climbed as the demand increased. Rugs priced out of my range quickly on ebay, and were priced much too high by US/Canadian/Australian resellers trying to make a quick buck off the boucherouites, beni ouarain, and azilal rugs and other vintage home textiles. Sourcing the larger sized rugs, which are hard enough to find in good condition, became like hunting for the golden ticket. Mass production seemed to take over, with manufacturers like West Elm and NuLoom producing designs intended to mimic the patterns and colors the design community was demanding, but I’ve looked at many of those, read reviews, and decided against in hopes that I’d eventually find something authentic.
When our friends returned to Morocco last year I asked them to search, sending them off with general size guidelines and promises to PayPal them cash as fast as could be, but even within local souks and with their plethora of connections, these friends had a hard time finding exactly what we were looking for – a few cool options, but not quite the coloring or scale I wanted. I continued my search online.
A few months ago, I stumbled upon Bazaarliving.com by chance–I think via Instagram–and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical about buying overseas from a website that wasn’t mainstream, but I took a chance. The shop, which is based in Marrakech, London and Barcelona, has a limited inventory of unique, authentic rugs available for sale, but the products listed were well-photographed, well-described, and priced affordably compared to all other sources I’ve been monitoring. This was exciting! Many of the rugs were larger in scale too, which is what I wanted – here’s the listing for one I chose. Shortly after I placed my order I received an email directly from a guy named Marc confirming that they received my order, and he sent me the tracking info for my package – totally at ease.
Good things come in small packages; my wedding dress (j.crew via ebay) arrived in a box that was smaller than a toaster (yes, really), and I was just as surprised when the 4.5′ x 7.5′ vintage rug showed up on our porch wrapped into a bundle the size of my torso.
Good packing job, Marc.
The price of the rug was £310.00 or ~$375 USD + shipping, and… total heart-eyes. Perfectly imperfect, which is what you expect with a “rag rug” made of scrap fibers hand-woven into an intricate, free flowing and casually asymmetrical pattern.
I’ve rotated it around into different spots in our house to see where it works best; it’s definitely at home in the bedroom, in a low-traffic spot that I still intend to accessorize with new dressers and a killer floor lamp, but until I get that space adorned it lives in front of our fireplace, serving as a soft little play area for the kids.
The hunt is real, but if you’re also looking for a moroccan rug I definitely recommend looking at bazaarliving.com, as well as ebay (worth noting that US-based and well-respected sfgirlbybay has her own ebay storefront of boucherouites too). The Etsy shop BOUCHEROUITE was also one I kept a close eye on.