Decisions, Decisions: Barn Color Edition

For those of us who build things but don’t necessarily make them look pretty, there’s a certain, um,ย  tightness of chest that comes when it’s time to put down the hammer and actually paint or decorate something. I mean, Pinterest exists for a reason so it’s not exactly a breathing-int0-a-paper bag kind of moment, but there’s been a time or two where I thought I may physically suffocate under the weight of a truckload of paint swatches.

For the most part, Liberty House has taken it easy on me these first six months, but now I’m faced with this.


That is a big wall, in need of some paint.

The irony of the new barn siding is that I only did it on the two sides that were called out by the appraiser, which are the two sides you don’t see very often. The rest of it still looks like this.



Clearly there’s a lot to do on this building yet, including residing these areas, potentially replacing the windows/doors, installing soffits and trim, getting a working garage door in the shop, insulating, and getting the furnace up and running. Not to mention extensive interior work to the shop and interior walls. Which is exactly the reason I chose to just reside the “easy” sides for now, and tackle the rest in early spring.

However, the problem at hand is that the new siding needs a coat of something-or-other before winter to protect it from weathering. I’ve pretty much ruled out transparent or semi-transparent stain because my new objective is to reside this barn as few times as possible in my lifetime, and a solid stain or paint will give it better protection.

My big question is, do I keep the current “barn red” from the front and use it all around for a more traditional barn look (similar to the big barn, and the donkey barn)…


Or do I treat this building more like a garage and paint it the same color as the back of the house?


I kind of like the idea of going with a whole new color, and gray barns sound pretty sweet.

And it’s located closer to the house than the other barns…


(The donkey barn is hiding behind those pines over to the right.)

But the current roof (which is in good shape) has a greenish red hue that will probably go better with the red.

So. What do you think? Would you go gray, or stick with the barn red?

62 Responses

  1. I vote for gray. You can find a shade with green undertones that works with your roof and the gray will help it blend with the house. The 2 other barns can be your traditional red barns.

  2. Maybe it’s feminine thing… but I vote for gray. That makes 9 of 10 (assuming Britten, my aplolgies if wrong) thinking the same thing. My guess is anytime 90% of any group is thinking the same thing, you can’t go too far wrong. It’s just paint right?

  3. Ok, I can go with the crowd and vote GRAY, or I can go out on a limb and suggest something outlandish, like taking the green back door, cutting it by 50% (thereby giving a more gray hue to the green) and painting that bad boy green!

    What can I say? In blog-land, I’m a non-conformist ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. grey.I agree with what Nicole said;” Donโ€™t you want to look out at it and have your heart skip a beat?”

    love the design of the front of that building.

  5. I’m also on board with the gray! Of course, your representative picture also had wreaths on the barn and I’m always on board with Christmas decorations, so that might be affecting my choice.

  6. I’d say you’ve got great precedent for gray, considering I’ve traveled a lot of the beautiful state of Michigan and seen plenty of gray barns. I agree that since it’s a neutral you should be able to find a tone of gray that works with the shingles. I’m sure whatever you pick it will be beautiful. It’s an outbuilding with the character already built in! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I say gray as well.

    What exactly is going on with the material choices above those ‘garage’ doors.. Old shipping pallet, stucco and fiberglass? Classy.

  8. Keep it simple, stick with the red. Red barn, gray barn, gray siding, brick siding, it is too many different surfaces and might look patchworky.

  9. I think I have suggested painting the back of the house to match the brick a couple of times, would make it not stand out as an addition so much. So – that being said, and being another traditionalist I would go with red.

    I painted my ugly grey metal barn red two summers ago. I completely hyperventilated over the cost at the time because it wasn’t necessarily needed, BUT it pulled my whole property together and made such a huge difference in the curb appeal. it was worth every penny.

  10. I prefer red, too. Or, in fact, due to my Western cowgirl-type upbringing, my heart goes pittypat over white outbuildings with dark green trim. It is just a ranch-look I prefer. But then you’d have to paint all of the outbuildings and I think you want to avoid that. I think red is safest and keeps the outbuildings uniform.

  11. Barn-red with white trim.

    Keep the color consistent with the other out-buildings/barns throughout the property, and separate from the house color. (You really don’t want just that building to match the house, do you? ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  12. I’d go with red. It looks so sharp on that barn! And I think having all three outbuildings the same colour would keep things looking cleaner & tidier–especially if you can match the red of the big barn.

  13. I’m going to say red too! I especially like it against the wide white trim around the door and windows. And I like what others have said about all of your outbuildings matching!

  14. I vote for grey!! I once had a small ‘barn’ out back and had it painted a traditional barn red and the painter had to put three coats on, to get it to cover….and imagine trying to paint a different paint over the red in the future… Your barn looks to me like a garage for the house, so make it ‘go’ with the house. Lots of farms have red barns, but they don’t necessarily paint their house to go with the barn……

  15. I’m really liking what it looks like now. How about an opaque stain that looks like that? (stain so no peeling paint, no scraping.)

  16. I’m always a fan of red, but can see why you’d like the gray closer to the house. You can’t go wrong either way. Those barns look huge from your roof.

  17. Grey, for now. It’s the sides you don’t see from your house very often. If, by the time you reside the part you can see, you decide you want red – it won’t be hard to cover the grey with red. Would be much harder to go from red to grey though….

  18. 1. Will the house always be brick+gray? If you are planning to change that gray addition to a different color in the future, don’t paint the barn gray.
    2. If you haven’t decided on keeping the addition gray, but you’d like to match the house, what about color-matching your house’s brick?
    3. If you don’t even want to be thinking about the color of the addition now, paint the barn red to match the other two.

    1. Agreed. It all depends on the points RBoyce made. Out here in Arizona most barns are metal. If they’re wood they’re usually falling down and are weathered gray!

      BTW Linda… gray vs grey indicates which side of the “pond” you’re on. Of course I include Canada with the grey spelling.
      That’s the point the gentleman from Canada was teasing about.
      It’s not a potato/potahto thing. Madeliene L’Engle encountered this spelling when Wrinkle In Time was released in England.

  19. My initial thought was duh, red until you started in on the possibilities! I agree with the majority to treat it more like a shop to match the house than a barn ONLY since you already have red barns, every good property needs at least one red barn. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. There’s just something about an old farmhouse surrounded by red barns…… And a red barn in the dead of winter against white snow or a muted background of brown grass and trees is such a nice shot of color and just makes me feel warm ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. LOVE THE GRAY….also red has a tendancy to oxidize into a brownish red over time(kinda like the current color on the barn) not so pretty. That gray inspiration picture is to die.

    1. MD a long time ago I discovered that if I ask ten people what choice I should make, I would get ten different answers! LOL

  22. My goodness ! Everyone is chiming in on this one !
    My two cents: 1) On the house roof – think about adding chimney caps before the crappy weather really sets in and it gets “not safe” up there.
    2) Grey + Gray ! After all, it’s a two-stall garage plus workshop plus loft; not a barn. Nice contrasting trim colors/colours would brighten it up! “Too much” red on the lot would be boring. After all, it’s not a farm, but a donkey-doo! (?)

  23. Given how close it is to the house, and how it has some of the same trim details in the woodwork (that vertical lattice, the fishscales, the octagonal window) I say go grey and it’ll look like a carriage house or an extension of the main house.

  24. It’s like, “Do I have the red wine or the white wine?” When you buy something expensive you should always have more than two choices. Knowing your painting habits, the real question should be, “What color hair will look best on Kit?” I don’t think red or gray is a good color for you. May I suggest something in a turquoise or maybe a sunny yellow.

    1. So not a bad idea in theory, unfortunately this is Wolverine territory and you don’t mix Buckeye colors on ANYTHING unless you want it burned down. lol.

  25. Again – MOST of the house IS red, red brick, just the back (that you can’t see from the road)is gray. So, I am not sure why eveyone is saying gray matches the house… If you’re wanting to match the house… it’s pretty much red.

    You bought a traditional farm property and keeping with tradition…

    1. It’s weird though KC, the brick on the house isn’t red-red, it’s more of an orange. (This is the reason I don’t want to try and “match” the brick on the wood addition… orange wood would not be my favorite.) One of the things I dislike about the current red on the front of the barn is that it clashes with the orange a bit… they’re too close on the spectrum to match and too far apart to look good together. The only reason I give it a pass is because barns should be barn-red, of course!

      If the brick matched the barn red at all, this would be a much easier decision. lol

      The gray is more prominent on the back but it’s actually an accent color on the whole house (the dormers on the front second story, the fascia and window sills, etc. And it does match the stone foundation to a degree as well. Since I used similar siding on the barn and it has similar architectural details to the back of the house, that’s where I think the “matching” comes in to play.

      I’m still up in the air though…

      1. I had the same concern with my red trim (and eventually my barn which is the same color)clashing with my very prominent brick chimney so I know what you are saying…

        I found a nice barn red color that has just a tinge of orange in it and it works really well. So its not a true barn red of course, but with everything the same color you can’t really tell even with a couple of red barns next door.

        Of course I then painted the house a PUMPKIN color and you would probably really hate that! It goes well though. Maybe I’ll try to send you a photo.

        Color is really my thing. I love spending time picking just the right color and watching it all come together as the paint goes on! I’m about ready to paint my Victorian in Spokane – A really nice dark blue (not quite navy) with white trim and an as yet unknown accent color.

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