The sun is shining, there is a crispness in the air, the daffodils and tulips are blooming, and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful spring day. My adrenaline is pumping and I can’t wait to get out the door. I glance around the house one last time, grab my tape measure and run out the door. If you already know where I am headed, it’s because you have the same date marked on your calendar months in advance. If you don’t know, then you clearly haven’t experienced the highly anticipated spectacle that is the BARN SALE!
Trying to describe how excited I am to feature my dear friend Pam this week on the blog is truly a lesson in futility. When it comes to decorating, she is one of my BIGGEST inspirations. If you know her work, my suspicion is that you feel the same.
Pam and her husband Gary started collecting antique pieces at auctions when they were engaged. Pretty soon she had a houseful of furniture and children and very little extra time but she always loved to make the pieces unique for use in her home décor. As her nest started emptying, Pam started getting the itch to sell some of the excess furniture. While cleaning out the barn for her son Ben’s wedding, the idea was hatched to make a few additions to the ‘inventory’ and have a big sale.
That first winter Pam would scour blogs of like-minded furniture folk and learned so much that she decided to give painting and resurfacing a try. Work started in the garage and when the weather turned, Pam’s parents provided space at their shop for her to work her magic. Her son designed a logo and an ad and word got out that there was going to be a barn sale. With 100% support from her husband and kids, Pam’s first sale was a huge success! A lot of things were learned via trial and error and shortly after the first sale, they started planning the next one.
These days Pam and Gary hit 1 or 2 auctions a week in order to keep up with demand and provide enough inventory for the sale that increases in popularity every year. At the auctions she tries to focus on finding unique furniture with great carvings and details that will pop when they are painted. Painting is a full time venture in the winter and required some converted space in the barn for Pam’s studio. She can churn out up to 7 to 8 pieces a week during crunch time! She has also proven very adept at spotting smaller items that can be cleaned up and used for storage around the home. It doesn’t hurt that these “smalls” really provide a nice ambiance for the staging in the barn. Mixing painted and primitive pieces keeps it fresh and avoids losing the distinctive character of each piece. She has tried markets and festivals, but the labor intensive nature of moving the furniture, not to mention protecting the newly finished surfaces from the elements, makes it more trouble than it’s worth. Plus she has the ultimate atmosphere to sell these pieces right in her back yard!
When I hear the words Duck Egg, my ears perk up; <sigh> the most beautiful shade of blue/green. I love it so much! Not only does it have a softness, it compliments so many other colors. I read this description online about Annie Sloan’s blue chalk paint – “It has the ability to complement many different interiors and colors. It is a greenish soft blue. Annie says it is reminiscent of Rococo French and Swedish interiors. It looks wonderful and fresh with Old White. We also love it distressed when it is used over Chateau Grey.” Some of Pam’s favorite paint choices are Coco, Duck Egg, Old White, Provence, and French Linen.
I grew up on a farm and my mother has always loved antiques and she has always mentioned handing down heirlooms to my sister and I. For years, I scoffed at the very thought of having antiques in my home; that just wasn’t my style. So what’s changed? Surely it isn’t because I am getting older, right? My mom would probably say my taste is finally maturing, haha. All I know, is that now, when I visit my parent’s homestead, I have an appreciation for their sacred pieces. And no, Mother, I don’t feel the need to paint everything, but knowing I “can” has opened my creative mind like never before.
Pam is iconic when it comes to decorating. I have admired her style of decorating for years and let me tell you I study her arrangements and have learned a lot! She has a gift, it’s just that plain and simple. Lucky for us, she shares her God given ability so we can display the beautiful pieces she finds and finishes into pieces for our own homes. She makes it look so easy and she has taught me that some of it really is! Just toss some pine cones and some greenery in this bowl and add some votive candles around the base. Voila! A centerpiece! Remember the Facebook page I mentioned? Just visit it and scroll through her Born in the Barn sale pictures and you are sure to find inspiration. I am excited to give you a peek into her home to give you all inspiration. I bet some of you will go to your cabinets and closets and pull out some dishes or knick knacks you haven’t displayed in a while. You may even look at an older piece of furniture in a different way. Give it some love and it will come alive!
I would love to hear your comments about your love for re-purposed furniture! Do you restore and paint it yourself? Do you have any pieces purchased from Pam’s sales? What are your favorites?
Author – Martha Knake
Chief Editor – Emily Schunke
Pictures of “BornintheBarn” – Stories Photography