The Happiest Barn

the barn

happy barn

This? This is a picture of a happy barn full of beautiful, happy people. Amen.

Our family had a Hope*ologie event here this past Saturday. It was pretty much the best day ever with 40 people, a talk on each of the *ologies (fam*ologie–our dad, quiet*ologie–my sister & her husband, home*ologie–me) a craft, music with Reeve, warm dinner, and cats scurrying around. We had a major cold snap here in NC so we asked everyone to bring hats, coats and blankets. It was chilly y’all. Even with our wood stove. But it was so worth having.

Here are waaaaay too many photos of last Saturday, the setting up, the decor, the people and more…


This is a picture of a sad barn (one year ago)waiting to be used for its new purpose.

big wall decorating with what you have

The back doors of the barn have told me that they want to be the front of the barn when people are inside. So I listened. And there’s bad lighting and boring doors that don’t hold any attention. I had a big challenge.

How to decorate a large area with little time or money:

  • make an impact with a few large items (do NOT focus on a bunch of tiny things unless Anthropologie is paying you to create beautiful impactful displays out of small items)
  • use lighting (lighting brings a place alive: twinkle lights, candles, lamps–YES)
  • shop the house & beyond (I think I could work sticks into any theme–I’ve used them for weddings and gatherings for every time of the year–they are FREE and come in every size)
  • pick a theme but not a cheesy theme like “the beach, so we’ll have lots of plastic buckets in many colors”. That’s fine for kids. but step way back and go more general, it will be easier on everyone. Pick one color to highlight or a season or use one type of material (like book pages!)

I shopped the house and hung two 40 dollar hammocks that I had recently ordered to hang around the yard. Then I layered on every neutral textural soft item I had so they would mimic the feel of a super-sized weaving.

barn in the fall

I moved this light (only I clipped on book pages and doilies) in keeping with the neutral textural feel, and wrapped white lights around some sticks and wired them up to the doors.

We have another big sliding door that everyone used for coming and going–on the side of the barn right next to my office doors.



I spray painted a lantern (I accidentally broke the glass last year but kept the lantern part) filled with remote control battery-powered candles, fabric scraps and beads.

fill a wall with things you love

wood stove in the barn

feathers taped to a chalkboard


happy sofa

My sofa fulfilling its greatest purpose: holding people who are sitting and crafting and talking and drinking hot coffee!

This is what sofas dream about.

PS, this is my new slipcover from LS Slipscovers (I hugely recommend Laura, Nathan & Crew!)  Want to see it people-less?…

white sofa

Look at that fitted beauty! It was a such a joy (a joy I tell you!) to put this slipcover on with its velcro and just the perfect fit on every cushion. I keep my rabbit hides on the arms because they are so soft and I learned the hard way that this is the part of the slipcover that gets the dirtiest, cover this and your slipcover will last even longer.




A few people asked how I get my leaves to stick to the branches. Most of these branches were from trees Chad trimmed in the summer, so the leaves dried on them but they didn’t fall off, even after being dragged to the barn.

crafts at the barn

Our crafts all packaged up and ready to hand out. I’ll do a post about the craft on Monday.

craft it up


dad & reeve at the barn






Caroline flew down from Chicago on Thursday and stayed the whole weekend. She helped with everything from vacuuming the barn, packing up the gift bags, serving dinner, and of course petting cats. I’m so grateful for her friendship. Y’all we even learned how to start a fire in the wood stove! She and I made the fire each day. It’s one of my biggest accomplishments of the year!



The bosses. Bossi?

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.47.58 PM

At the barn. With @reevecoobs

A video posted by Myquillyn Smith (@thenester) on

More photos here at the Hope*ologie facebook page, we’d love for you to join us there, for time to time encouragement for your home, family & soul. Find out more about becoming a member of Hope*ologie here.

We’ll host more events in 2015–some for Hope*ologie, some for other things. I’m reminding myself it’s okay to take this new part of our lives slow. We don’t plan on moving anytime soon and this barn is here to stay. I hope to have craft days, host small day trips to the southeast’s largest antique mall & courses at the barn, and partner with artists to bring some casual, fun experiences that will leave us inspired.




  1. “just wrap some twinkle lights around old branches” sure sounds easy enough…for you! lol. Mine would just look like my cat got tangled in my christmas ornament box…but thanks for giving me Hope that mine would turn out (even a fraction) as cool as yours…also a lantern with beads and cream fabric…I mean…pretty genius…

    • I thought this, but couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud, lol. I love this space. Seeing how she uses found items like this helped change my brain a little bit. One day it will click for us too.

  2. Your barn is so pretty and I love what you did with the hammocks on the wall…who would have thought of that? Looks like a very happy place full of smiling faces. I’m looking forward to your next “barn” post!

  3. YOU are amazing, girl! I so wish I was there. I love everything, including the kitties. So gorgeous! Are they litter-mates?

    • Maya Andrews says

      I am loving the cats too. They look just like my cat that died 6 years ago. I almost cried seeing them. I sound rather crazy saying that, but I guess I miss him! He was very special!

  4. Barbara Bussey says

    Looks like everyone left with hearts filled! Lovely event! I’ve been meaning to ask if you’ve posted about the paint color, used on the interior walls. So clean and fresh!

  5. My favorite part about this whole thing us that it was a family affair! So awesome tj be able to bless and minister and use y’all’s gifts alongside each other. So good.

  6. It looks like all of you had a lot of fun. Your barn is looking absolutely like a happy barn, the picture of your sofa with the blue pillows looks like out of a magazine. Awesome!!
    On a side note I will love if you can give me your opinion about my blog I am still not completely confident on what I am doing but I need to get it out there and I guess little by little I’ ll feel more comfortable with it.
    Thank you

  7. Definitely the classiest barn party I have ever seen! :) Very pretty. I love all of your ideas and details. I am big on knick-knacks and often end up with a bunch of pretty but small decor items that clutter up a space. You are so right to try to use larger pieces that make a bigger impact. But I LOVE the votive table!!! I have a couple of those mirrored votives and really never thought about using a whole array of them to decorate a table. Love!

  8. Love love everything you do, but your pictures have seemed very dark lately. Any way to brighten them?

  9. the best photo of all? the one with the women on the couch, crafting and drinking coffee. LOVE.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your space with us! It was one of my favorite days of the whole year – so life giving and encouraging and inspiring. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  11. What joy I felt seeing your gathering. I think it can be called ‘The Most Beautiful Barn in the World’ now. What lovely things family can do when they come together.

  12. So much fun to watch your dream unfold. Thx for sharing it with all of us. Hoping to take part in one of these awesome barn events eventually :)

  13. You inspire me so much! I love that you took sticks and lights and made it into art. I’m decorating my living room right now and while it looks nowhere as amazing as what you do, I am THRILLED with. It looks so much better than it used to and I’m having so much fun making the space feel more like “us.”

  14. Michelle Holland says

    What a wonderful place to gather! If only I lived closer!
    Blessings, Michelle

  15. Oh my! What an amazing event and barn! You, my friend, I think have created every woman’s dream. Just looking at your barn on a screen makes me feel at home. You did good! <3

  16. Love how your barn turned out!!! Just wanted you to know that reading your book gave me confidence to ‘redo’ Our living room, which was the most bleh part of our house. I just could not figure out what to do. With your guidance, I rearranged furniture, got slipcovers, did a painting of my own, and added some fun touches. We thought we needed a designer or new furniture, but with a few relatively minor changes, we now love it!! Thank you!!!’

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