Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Barn Quilt

A barn quilt in North Carolina

So Big Ag's shop/small barn is finally finished, and we've ended up with one large wall facing the raised vegetable beds, which begs for something creative to be done with it. (In my book, anyway.  I'm sure Big Ag would be just as happy to paint it and forget about it.) 

This west wall has always been something of a bone of contention, ever since Big Ag decided to put the barn in. After all the presence of a building, as well as the color it's painted, will affect the temperature of the garden itself -- which means it will have a direct impact on the success we have growing our food, no small thing.  

A light color on that wall could potentially reflect heat (keeping the building interior cooler but possibly reflecting both light and heat into the garden) while a darker color would probably absorb the heat (making both the interior of the barn and the area around the wall hotter). Luckily most of our winds come from the west in summer, straight in from the Pacific, so we'll still have air movement.

So the whole thing was a mixed bag for me.  While I love the idea of Big Ag having a place to put all his tools, I didn't want the microclimate of our garden potentially changed for the worse, even by a few degrees.

There didn't seem to be any good solution until I remembered the idea of a barn quilt.  Barn quilts are colorful painted patterns, hung on large sheets of wood on the exterior walls of barns or painted directly on them.  The quilt can be anything you design, with colors or patterns with special meaning to you. 

I suddenly had my solution to the wall facing my garden. With so many different colors in the quilt, I think any heat-accumulating tendencies will be neutralized. 

This is a cool weather project which is going to be designed and painted in the workspace of our garage this coming winter, where I can open all the doors, watch the rain and paint my giant 5' x 5' quilt as it chills and blows outside. We'll hang it whenever it's done, but I'm hoping it will be in early 2015.

 I can't wait to begin designing it and picking the colors and shapes that best represent our homestead.


  1. Love this idea! I've seen a few of these (no shortage of barns in central Ohio), but didn't know they were called barn quilts. For Ohio's bicentennial in 2003 there was a barn painting initiative to brand barns with a beautiful red, white, and blue insignia. It's lovely to see a pop of unexpected artwork on a barn! Just as a thought-you could also do some vertical planting of succulents on the wall to bring the temp down a little more. So excited to see the end product!

  2. I like the succulents idea! I was going to plant climbing roses on either side but a vertical planting of succulents might be fun too, and I could bring them inside to the conservatory for winter. I honestly can't wait to get started on this, I will definitely be posting progress pics! If it wasn't so hot right now I'd have started it, but 103 degrees is just too damn hot to work in the garage.

  3. I can't wait to see what you come up with! I love barn quilts.

    1. Thanks DFW! I'm excited to start planning it out!