When the Dream Comes True But the Reality is Slow & Ugly

white barn

Remember the World’s Worst Barn?

It was one of the reasons we bought this property…because of the dream.

It’s starting to look much better. Ish. And I wanted to show you what’s been done so far, grab your coffee, I’ve got a ton of photos.

And if you are like me and spoiled by beautiful finished reveals that sparkle and shine and scream “TA DA!!!”, then today will be a rude awakening.

It’s not pretty. But it’s progress.

This is how most projects happen. It would be so nice if we could all have a bunch of HGTV moments with dramatic sheet lifting to reveal a perfectly staged finished product. But that’s not normal life. This barn is a metaphor for my life. Maybe yours too.

Three steps forward. Two steps back where I trip over myself on that last step and then look around to see if anyone is looking.

Can you handle the truth?

the barn august 2013august 2013

the barn june 2014june 2014

DSC_6729august 2014

We hope this barn will be a place for you to come and hang out with us. For craft days, swap meets, imperfection camp, & beauty hunting classes. My sister already has a writing gathering planned for the end of September (it sold out in 48 hours)(please let this barn be finished enough) and Chad is planning a Men’s (thing?) as our test event before that ( to make sure we don’t burn down the place while people are here. We’re planning a hope*ologie event for November and other things to come after that. This barn isn’t for looks (thankfully). It’s for all of us to use in whatever way we want. It’s imperfection at it’s finest, a study in Lovely Limitations.


barn porch

So it’s been a year and in some ways it looks worse!! I should be so embarrassed to show you what we’ve done a year. But truly, this is a huge improvement. Stay with me now…

favorite barnHammersky Vineyard

For the record, here’s my dream barn. Ugh. It’s so beautiful. And mine will never have a vineyard or those expensive sofas. But mine can be white…


last year



I’m considering a sweet shade of pink for my office door. My office is attached to the back of the barn. And today it’s a complete wreck holding things that can’t sit outside while the inside of the barn is being worked on. Can you see it? Do you see the pretty barely showing through?

Sometimes I see it. Sometimes I want to eat a chocolate cake and flush my computer down the toilet.


Here’s the barn pre-windows back in the pre-spring. It’s just a humble, beat up, metal tractor barn that sits next to our house. It’s only 20′ x 40′ so it’s not a big place. Just big enough.

window test

The view from my front yard in the spring. See the blue tape on the barn? That’s how we decided on what size windows to order. We just ordered windows from Lowe’s.

window frames

Chad (my husband) and Sean (our friend/hired hard-working/can build anything-man who we highly recommend– but I’m not giving out his info until we are done with our projects because he is that good) built frames for six windows. Four windows went on one side, two on the other because of the heating thing we need to use, and the side barn door that opens up.


They took all the metal off to install the frames and windows.

windows in the barn

barn window



Inside the barn you can look out to our house. See how close they are?

windows in



Then summer came.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.06.04 AM

The barn had four lightweight metal doors that were super high and sort of weird.  We wanted wood doors so we lowered the door hardware to accommodate their weight.


Then it was time to paint. Chad and his dad and the boys put plastic on the windows. This is the view as you pull up our driveway. Sadly, the driveway spits everyone out at the ugliest part of the property. Lovely Limitation.


paint the barn

Sean loaned us his paint sprayer. Painting a metal barn was one of those things we didn’t want to mess up. The thought of it peeling in a year made me cringe. So we asked the paint fellas at Sherwin-Williams to tell us exactly what we needed to use to do it right. It took 6 gallons of multi-purpose latex primer and 10 gallons of Emerald paint–which is the top of the line fancy, blow your mind because this stuff is gonna last. Honestly, I wouldn’t buy the top of the line paint for every single paint project in my life. But for the exterior of the barn, absolutely. If they sold paint that used holy water infused with feathers from heaven I’d probably get that.

Chad said it sprayed on like a dream and the actually spraying of the paint went really fast.

pure white barn

The paint color is “Pure White”. Which is slightly off white if you ask me. But I’m still happy with it.


It took a few weeks to get it all finished just because we kept leaving town and playing in the yard and needing to get more paint.

painted barn



But finally I had a pure white barn with wood doors. No time to enjoy it because we had to move everything out of the barn so we could start work on the inside. Cue Sanford & Son music!

barn doors

That seam in the metal above the door drives me so close to insanity I can’t even tell you. Dear Lord please help me to be blind to that because of how beautiful this will be one day. It would be so easy to cry myself to sleep every night for the mess that this all is. At times it’s completely overwhelming. What have we done?! We bought the most expensive home we’ve ever purchased and it’s a holy mess along with 12 acres of land that needs major attention not to mention dumpsters.



Sean had to brace up the rafters so they could hold all the lighting and fans. They pulled out all the old wiring and then put in miles of new wiring. I had big ideas for all sorts of different lighting. I can’t wait to show you when it’s all done. Notice that crazy heater on the left? Lovely. At least we’ll be warm? I hope.






electrical plan


Here’s the pretty outdoor light I just ordered from Barnlight Electric. For some reason this was the most difficult decision for me to make, worse than the paint color, window sizes or anything.


The ceiling is getting the white paint treatment. So far it has a coat of primer and I’m already feeling this was one of the best design decisions I’ve ever made. The first day Chad sprayed the primer on the ceiling he didn’t wear a beard net and he pulled paint out of his beard for hours. This is love after a 20 year marriage people. The next day he wore a full body suit in 150 degree heat with the windows taped up standing 15 feet up on scaffolding spraying primer on the ceiling of the barn. He’s my dream man.


I needed the extra push to choose white for the ceiling since I knew it’d be such a pain to paint, Caroline came to the rescue and wrote a little ode to the white ceiling-ed barn and why she believed the white would make a huge difference. Chad and I were both sold after that.



The barn now has insulation! And ‘walls’ are going in as I type. I’ll tell you more about that in the next barn update.

sean & chad


The gorgeous awe-inspiring view from the open barn doors. Can we just take a moment and accept the fact that this is not the view I had in mind years ago as I dreamed about our future barn? Sometimes dreams and reality don’t match up. But I’d still take this over living in the subdivision sans metal tractor barn. We’re getting closer to the dream. Even if it’s slightly hideous and majorly overwhelming.


I can’t over exaggerate how rough/Sanford & Son/honky tonk it is out here. This will take YEARS of work. Come at your own risk. Keep your expectations low, and your heels lower. I’ve tripped multiple times trying to look cute in my wedges.

DSC_6747 2




I have to fight daily to not focus on the wires, the car getting the oil change (or whatever family vehicle is currently getting worked on) the falling apart greenhouse that we haven’t had time to take down, the overgrown trees we had time to kill but not cut, the trash, the metal, the wires. The mess.

20140703_EmilyFreeman_Hope(this photo? that’s our pavilion with lights to the World’s Worst Barn)

But it’s forward. It’s better than last year.

And the one thing that keeps us going is the encouragement, hand-holding, accountability, and support from our family and friends that THIS is worth it. Family and friends believe in this place so much that they’ve helped support this barn renovation financially. I think it’s important for you to know that we aren’t putting this all on a credit card and neither are we dishing out a bunch of cold hard cash–because we simply don’t have it.

Our family and friends have come and encouraged, prayed, worked, moved furniture and helped us believe this truly can happen. This project is too big for us to do alone. I’ve even had companies email and ask how they can be a part of this barn. Just this past weekend at the Lowe’s Style Saturday, two long time Nesting Place readers turned friends shocked me when they said they’d come out and help have a clean up day if we need it.

We aren’t doing this alone.

But we are doing this with purpose.

And I’m okay inviting you out under the power lines, with all the imperfections in plain sight, before it’s “done” if you are okay coming.

Invitation coming soon.

Until then, I’ll take three steps forward.

Two steps back.

Trip over myself.

Look down at my feet and see a feather.

And carry on.


let's carry on


  1. love it! i really do!

  2. It’s completely beautiful. I have loved following your family’s journey toward this place, thanks for inspiring me.

  3. I think it’s amazing and inspiring.

  4. Great progress made this summer, the white ceiling is perfect. Well done you, I look at those pictures and see a dream having to go through the narrow path of hard decisions, choosing the details, keeping to the budget, trips to the store, having to return things to the store, tired brain, sore muscles, moments of elation, the odd tear and a few determined soul’s! Thank you for sharing.

  5. I just adore it. It’s the imperfection of it and your openness of it that keeps me coming back. You inspire me with your transparency and vision! My struggle with my home and strive for perfection are met with fresh, godly, corrected perspective when I read your posts. Thank you!

  6. I have been lurking here for ages, first time commenting. I could have written this post! We finally moved to the ‘country’. Don’t have as much land, though, and it’s a fixer upper. The ‘barn’ needs expanding, and at some points things look worse than before we bought the place. I even have the hubby with stuff getting stuck in his beard. And the vehicles getting worked on. People mentioning the Sanford and Son theme.

    Here’s how I stay positive, I look at what I have, and even though it’s ugly, I love it, it’s functional, and I have no desire to live anywhere else! Not many people get to purchase their dream home in the making, so I am grateful for that.

  7. Thanks…now I have the theme from Sanford and Sons in my head. I SO can relate to this post…reality and dreams. I love what y’all are doing with the barn and love following the progress!!!!

  8. My dear, beloved Nester,

    It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

    From my heart,


  9. We bought a house last summer. It is lovely, adorable, and I thought the worst part was the mustard yellow kitchen (ceiling too) and the ketchup dining room. Turns out that the master bathroom was rotting from an improperly replaced shower pan. It’s in about the same stage as your barn. During photos are just as important as before and afters. A dear friend came over yesterday to see the progress that my father in law and I had made on repairs. She was astonished that we had white walls and a floor, as opposed to the black hole that my father and husband had to make to get the decayed parts out. I’ll say it again- during photos are just as important as before and afters.

  10. I knew I shouldn’t have looked. Every fiber of my being said “Move along! Nothing to see here!” And then I had to click on this post, and now I am totally “Jay Jay”, as my ten year old son,Samuel, would say. I love it. All of it. I even love the before pictures. But I can totally see the vision, and you are making HUGE progress! Give yourself a pat on the back, girlfriend! Remember all of the work you’ve been doing in the house, too. You’ve got an awesome kitchen now! Truly, I do love the house I’m in, but this…the farm house, the barn, the property, is my dream. One day, before I’m too old to put the labor into it, it will be mine! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. So pretty! I hope you are leaving that ceiling exposed! Wow!

  12. I actually read this post monday, but didn’t get a chance to comment then. And most likely someone else already suggested this, but I thought I’d chime in my two cents anyway: I agree, that seam in the metal is not the best. But what if you covered it up with a giant board? Like a 1 x 12, and painted some awesome quote on it? Or your blog’s theme? or something from Hopeology? Then it’d just look like an awesome sign, not just an awkward imperfection. If it’s too long for one board, I’d actually do three – one long one in the middle and two shorter ones on each side. It’ll look more intentional way.

  13. Debbie Klausing says

    Making a board sign to cover the seam is a great idea! Kind of an ode to the imperfection, and a nod to the fact that your barn is not seamless. It will be beautiful when all is done. I just know that your great white barn will be a blessing to many! Hang in there girl, you got skills!

  14. I’m feeling overwhelmed with the renovation of our teeny tiny house with a postage stamp sized garden. How you find the emotional wherewithal for this I do not know. Although…it is very beautiful and will be even more so when complete…maybe that helps!

  15. I wonder if this paint would work on a metal roof? Our roof us brown and faded, I want to paint it charcoal gray…

  16. Hi! I’ve been following for a loooong time. I loved seeing your move and how you handle all the challenges of your new spaces. They are coming together so nicely! The barn looks great and wow do the windows add a lot of character and light. I was wondering if you plan to insulate your roof/ceiling, given that you are insulating your walls. You might want to look into that since doing walls and leaving the ceiling might help for drafts some drafts but won’t make it at all warmer. Air naturally moves in the direction of the biggest temperature differential, and hit air rises, so that’s why the biggest energy saving thing to do in a house is insulate the attic floor/ceiling of the upper floor. Just a thought….

  17. i think it’s looking great!! Wow, you have beautiful property!!!

    xoxo, kerri (new follower)

  18. Wonderful..

    Birds Wall Decals

  19. That seam on the barn front just needs a piece of trim to make it look intentional! ;) take it as an opportunity to add some character the the front entrance.

  20. So, if I lived within driving distance of you, I would totally want to come help with beautifying projects!!! (Maybe I’d actually learn how to do something…)

  21. Hi Myquillyn,
    Remind me one day to tell you the kismet story that led me to your book and consequently your website… Suffice it to say the barn is a work in progress, but the potential! Darling, the potential is the dream that keeps you going! I can only hope one day to meet you there at a workshop or gathering and watch you smile at how proud you are of what you’ve accomplished. BTW, I love the seam above the door-looks like the perfect “top of the frame “for a vintage-looking sign that says “The Nesting Place” or has a nest image or a great quote! Keep on keepin’ on, girl! You give us all hope and inspiration! :)

  22. I just found your site and this is awesome! We moved in our home about 3 years ago and have the same ugly big shed/barn that now serves as storage. I LOVE what you did with yours and want to do the same! Just wondering if it’s absolutely necessary to remove the metal siding to frame and install the windows. I’d like to be able to frame the windows from the inside and then somehow cut through the metal but I have no clue about framing etc.
    anyway, thanks for the beautiful pictures and inspiration!

  23. I love looking back at where a space has come from. I did that with my own blog this morning and it’s super inspiring to see progress. When we are in the thick of it, it often feels unending.At least for me that’s how it is. We still aren’t finish with our post-flood renovations but I know we are on the right path. Thank you for the added inspiration!

  24. Jennifer says

    I was just re-reading this old post and have to tell you how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE your barn. The windows and the white paint have transformed it into the most wonderful airy lovely space! And thank you so much for your encouraging honesty. We have been in our house for 10 years and so much of it is still ugly, cluttered, broken etc. etc. etc. It has come a long way though. Your blog is so much better for my spirit than any other “perfect” home blog. hugs to you.

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