The Barn Quilt

October 06, 2017   //  Posted in: Barn, DIY, HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  3 responses

The barn quilt I created for DIY Network is a special project–probably my favorite project of the year–and I wanted to be sure you didn’t miss it. If you’re ready to go down a rabbit hole and want shortcuts over to my editorial pages, visit here for DIY Network, and here for HGTV.

A handmade, hand-painted barn quilt made featuring modern, vivid colors / diy network

I’ve followed Buffalo-native Whitney Crispell @whitneyarlene for quite some time on Instagram, and when she announced earlier this year that she was launching her own heirloom quilting business @localcolorquilts, I crossed my fingers and hoped she’d be willing to collaborate with me for the barn quilt I had been envisioning for our home. Her use of color! Her appreciation for modern design and pattern! So refreshing, and her projects always caught my eye and earned a double-tap. She bit the bait, agreed to an interview for HGTV (it turned out amazingly) and the rest is history.

Part of the story that isn’t told in the DIY Network tutorial is how I became drawn to barn quilts everywhere; every winter when we venture down back roads to our favorite ski resorts, we pass lots of old barns, many adorned with barn quilts. Their patterns, classic, sometimes weathered by blustering wind and snow, but other times freshly painted and bright, as if it was the owner’s mission to keep it looking sharp even when the barn was aging. From what I researched, they’re typically 8’x8′ in size, but country homes often are seen with miniatures on the porches, and we even spied a few giant interpretations painted onto old brick buildings in small villages for town beautification initiatives. We snapped photos, I pinned my heart out, and wondered curiously why there wasn’t yet an app that maps a barn quilt trail across the country for road trip enthusiasts (there’s your million dollar idea, barn quilt people).

After I painted the barn earlier this year (a $200 project that turned our sad little barn into something that looked superb), I knew I wanted to install a quilt of my own. Whitney fortunately had the vision and attention to detail that I was lacking, and contributed the pattern and color palette that you see in the finished project on DIY Network. (She actually gave me a lot of designs – her reinvention of some classic quilting patterns is worth some gold and if you want a cool, original pattern for yourself, you might want to get in touch with her directly).

Painting a modern barn quilt.

The other part you wouldn’t have heard about in depth on DIY Network was that I was able to source the wood from trees cut down on my parents property, which my Dad had planed into gorgeous, red spruce boards. He had been saving them for a long time, and I managed to convince him this was the project that would do them right. I went back and forth on how/whether to stain the natural wood, but decided on using a splash of stain from what I had leftover from refinishing the barn, but diluted down a bit with water so that the grain of the wood would display. It turned out so nice!

Wooden boards sourced locally from Buffalo, NY to be used in a handmade barn quilt.

No fancy joinery with this project–briefly considered biscuits but didn’t think they’d be strong enough alone–and no fancy hanging apparatus, either. I mounted the red spruce to a piece of plywood, and then straight to the wall of the barn with some 5″ bolts, and that’s where it will probably remain until the structure completely decays.

Enjoy the full how-to tutorial here on DIY Network.

Modern, rainbow-colored barn quilt on our mid-century home's outbuilding.

How to build and paint a modern barn quilt as a nod to traditional outdoor decor.

  • Diego Lopes
    9 months ago - Reply

    It looks really beautiful, you did an amazing job there!

  • Laurie
    1 month ago - Reply

    I’m curious about the app you’re using to plan the color layout. Can you tell me which app it is?

    • Emily
      1 month ago -

      Hi Laurie, I have no affiliation to Behr, but its “Color Smart” app was what I used. It reads colors off a photo on your device, and attempts to match it to a color in the Behr palette. For colors that didn’t have a close match, I just used paint swatches in-store from brands other than Behr. Hope this helps!

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