Shut the Barn Door (But Do It Artfully!)
By: Paisley Hansen
The warmth, charm, and simplicity of rural architecture is welcoming, and what is more rustic than an American barn? If you long for a home that emulates this look, it may be easier to turn your dream into reality than you think. Use some imagination and ingenuity and you won’t have to sell the north forty to underwrite your home makeover.
First Impressions Count
Set a barn-like mood by siding your home exterior with natural siding—in red if you’re a purist or an earthy brown if that’s more your taste. Search antique barns and junk yards for an old front door—or buy a new one and weather it yourself with distressing compounds. If your house has a porch, populate it with rocking chairs and/or replace contemporary railings with ranch fencing. Add coordinated outdoor art—suns, weather vanes, or watering cans in aged patinas. Plant giant sunflowers in pots and you’ve captured the essence of a barn exterior for your home.
The Living (Room) is Easy
Lavish your interior walls with real wood planks (placed horizontally or vertically). Need a cheaper alternative? Wallpaper printed to resemble barn wall textures give the room instant charm. Cover your living room floor with coordinated plank flooring. Add comfy, romantic furnishings and accessorize with primitive art pieces like barnyard collectibles—roosters, chickens, and pigs. All it takes is barndoor hardware to hang authentic-looking doors leading to rooms off the living room.
Where Everyone Gathers
When designing your barn-styled kitchen, a farm sink is a must, especially if it’s skirted. Convert a real water pump from antique to working faucet if you have solid do-it-yourself skills. A proliferation of nostalgic artifacts can make a huge impression (one woman hung 80 vintage rug beaters from floor to ceiling on one wall!). Mix and match cabinets so your kitchen doesn’t look too modern, and install organic counter top material that looks 100 percent natural. Get clever! Turn a large metal colander into a hanging lamp. Distressed wood furnishings, cozy cushions, matching linens, and barnyard art complete the look.
Ring the Dinner Gong
If the proliferation of “farm tables” dotting every furniture showroom is any indication of our collective need to get in touch with life’s simpler things, nothing does. Whether you use your dining room only for company or it’s an everyday affair, replicate the look and feel of walls and flooring used for your living room, but invest in a dramatic, earthy chandelier over your farm table and surround the table with country-style chairs. Sideboards and shelves filled with varying sizes of egg collection baskets keep dinner supplies organized so your barn-inspired dining room always looks tidy.
Just For Kids
Slat-style bunk beds make a perfect start for a kids’ bedroom once you’ve installed kid-friendly carpet. Paint the room sky blue and “rag” the room with white clouds to suggest prairie vistas. Give the kids a horse requiring no feeding for less than $30 by adding a wallpaper mural that hides a closet door. Fill Mason jars with strings of tiny lights and hang them across the ceiling to suggest fireflies at night. Decoupage faux cowhide fabric onto dressers or just paint them white and add black or brown patterns. Populate the room with stuffed pigs. They don’t cost a cent to feed, either.
If you have no budgetary constraints, install rough-hewn wood paneling and plank flooring in your bedroom. Alternately, use an environmental graphic depicting farmland to optically expand the size of the room. A vintage bed—four poster, iron or a sleigh—adds early 20th Century nostalgia. Toss thick, fluffy rugs and hang barn doors on runners to keep the room private. Touches of primitive art on walls and tables (e.g., old-fashioned pitchers and bowls used for washing up), complete your rustic nest.
It’s Saturday Night!
Design a master bath that’s too charming to use only on Saturday night. A two-legged porcelain sink that’s wall-mounted looks terrific adjacent to a vintage claw foot bathtub, too. Invest in a new-but-old-looking pull chain toilet. Can’t live without a shower? Build one into your decorating scheme, but instead of glass doors or shower curtains, use saloon doors. Shelves of vintage glass jars that reflect light streaming in through windows (when the window-style barn shutters are open of course) make perfect finishing touches.