Barn wood Built-Ins

In designing a space, I firmly believe that you need texture, a combination of textures actually, to achieve a balanced look. In my mind, texture, color, lines and shapes are what makes a space pleasing to view. For example, if you have a room with all smooth texture, cool colors and all straight lines, it can come off as cold or harsh. Add some natural texture into the room and it calms the hard lines immediately.

Wood can really add to the texture of a room. In its natural state, wood is a work of art! The grain, the texture… the life in a piece of wood makes it beautiful. Where am I going with this? Barn wood! Yes, barn wood. It is everywhere. And it is beautiful! Not only is it naturally aged to rough perfection, but it has a history. It has lived a whole different life for years and years. I love barn wood. And I wanted some in our house!

In our family room, we have a huge space for a TV.  It looks like this:
While we decided what we wanted to put there, we had an Ikea cube shelf for the TV. It just wanted right… but, we had just moved in and we did what we had to do! Once we measured the space, we realized that it would fit 3 standard cabinets (36″) across. Perfect. We purchased 3 unfinished cabinets and installed them into the space, but were unsure what we wanted to do for the countertop. We knew we didn’t want something solid like granite or marble, we wanted something with more feel to it. We knew the cabinets would be white since so much of the room is dark and as we started pondering, we thought would might look pretty cool. Then we thought – barn wood! We knew of a great place in the Chicago suburbs that sold reclaimed wood, but when I went there with our measurements, it would have been $200+ just for the countertop. If you know me, you know that I REALLY like a bargain and this was not it. And the hubby said no <– bigger problem. But now I was set on barn wood…. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting something you can’t have, right? Here’s the wood I wanted:

I started searching for reclaimed wood, barn wood, anything like that online. I happened to be searching for barn wood on CraigsList when I came across a listing from a salvage company that was tearing down a barn and several out buildings on the property – the location was only about 20 minutes from my house! I called my brother in-law (who is always game for this kind of adventure) to step in for my hubby who was down for the count with the flu. We met at the location, signed our lives away on waivers (the buildings were not stable) and started hunting.

We found some really amazing stuff on this property – old tools, chicken feed bins, barn doors… and some beautiful worn shiplap that my brother in-law pried off the wall for me to take home! Yippee!!


To me, this was even better than buying that wood from the reclaimed store because even though I knew all of that reclaimed wood had a story, this wood was part of MY story. I knew where it came from and pulled it off the building myself. Plus, it was a pretty cool adventure!

I brought all the wood home and cleaned it up. My brother in-law had tried to keep as many of the nails in place when we were prying it off the wall so that we would have the nail heads when the wood became the countertop.

Here’s the wood before I starting working on it: IMG_8095

I gave each piece a good cleaning and then a light sand just to get off any sharp or rough edges. Then I treated each piece with Annie Sloan Clear Wax:
I love that the wax started to bring out the grain in the wood. Then, I attacked each piece with Annie Sloan Dark Wax and LOVED IT EVEN MORE!:

I worked the dark wax into the grooves, cracks and dents in the wood and then buffed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the clear wax, but I was so happy that this was the outcome. I felt that the dark wax brought out the beautiful grain of each piece.

With the wood waxed and ready to go, it was time to install! We picked up some thick plywood from Home Depot to act as the base for the countertop – we did this so the wood was more supportive and so we had more flexibility in placing the planks. We used liquid nails and regular nails to secure the pieces to the plywood:
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We edged the countertop with wood to hide the plywood base that we used for the countertop and to give the whole thing a more finished look. We even kept the latch that was once used for a door on the wood, we loved that bit of character:
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Here’s the finished project:
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We love the added storage, but most of all, we LOVE the story behind it!

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