How to repurpose old barn wood in just 31 easy steps!

DeckRoomWallFeaturedStep 1: Buy a farm with an old barn on it.

House before we bought it2

Step 2: Fix up old barn.


Step 3: Use old barn.


Step 4: Decide old barn isn’t big enough, so add onto it.


Step 5: Discover that old barn needs major repairs.

Step 6: After much angst, discuss tearing down old barn so it can be replaced with something better suited to our needs.

Step 7: Tear down old barn. Give most of the wood to some crazy people who say they will repurpose it. Keep the 2″ x 10″ hay loft floor joists because they are sturdy and seem like they could be useful.


Step 8: Hoard said “useful” wood, where it takes up valuable storage space under roof.

Step 9: Consider/threaten to BURN “useful” wood because there is no actual plan for it and it is displacing other, more valuable things from being stored inside out of the weather.


Step 10: Repeat steps 8 & 9 multiple times.

Step 11: Purchase Expensive Woodworking Machines to make hoarded wood into appropriate dimensions for our yet-unknown application.


Step 12: Store Expensive Woodworking Machines (hereafter referred to as “EWM”) in the climate controlled garage so they don’t rust – causing more expensive car and truck to sit outside in the weather.

Step 13: Attempt to formulate feasible plan for use of hoarded wood; appropriate employment of EWM is contingent on outcome of plan.

Step 14: Repeat steps 8 & 9.

Step 15: Fabricate “most likely” plan, and actually use EWM’s to cause the hoarded wood to be slightly smaller pieces, generating much sawdust, but doing nothing to solve the storage issue outlined in Step 8.

Step 16: Is again a repetition of steps 8 & 9, though by now the hoarded wood looks VERY cool and is in less danger of being burned.


Step 17: Discuss a plan for use of wood, now that a few options have been removed since it is now sawn and planed by EWM.

Step 18: Table plan for discussion at a later date because there is no sensible option for wood use at that time.

Step 19: Repeat steps 17 & 18.

Step 20: Finally, after a bazillion hours on the internet looking at pictures that are NOT helpful at all, decide to use the narrower boards as slats in an upstairs hallway that will simulate the look of a corn crib.

Step 21: Have much angst over the validity of the corn crib idea; worry that it is going to look stupid.

Step 22: Actually IMPLEMENT the plan to use the narrow boards spaced as on a corn crib wall. Said implementation is a surprisingly impressive success, in spite of the fact that nowhere on the entire internet is there an example of someone else having completed a similar project in their home.


Step 23: Pat selves on back for being innovative and adventurous with the narrow boards. Look at remaining wood (wide boards) that are still taking up space in the garage with renewed enthusiasm and creativity.

Step 24: Repeat steps 17 & 18

Step 25: Try to figure out if there is enough wood remaining to cover walls, floor, or both in this blight of a room that’s been decorated in studs, insulation and plastic for longer than I care to confess.

IMG_6721 deck room825w

Step 26: Fail to determine if there is enough wood, because we can’t decide if the boards should go vertical, horizontal, partway up like wainscoting or ?…

Step 27: Repeat steps 17 & 18

Step 28: Repeat steps (gasp) 8 & 9

Step 29: In a fit of plan-less-ness that is totally NOT how my husband rolls, he endeavors to start the project without knowing for sure if there will be enough wood to complete it.


Step 30: Carry on with the fitting and hanging of the wood. Rob works late into the night; we carefully choose each board to compliment its neighbor, and somehow, like in the Elves and The Shoemaker story, we continue to have enough materials to progress each day until the last wall is covered!


Step 31: Swoon over how very cool we think these reclaimed boards look, and contemplate whether the troupe of long-dead men who harvested the timber, sawed it into joists, wrestled it into place in a building whose sole purpose was to shelter animals were looking down laughing at us for putting it on the walls in our house…


Want to see what else happens?

Fun on the Farm Part 1 is here

The Epic Mess of Fixing the Fireplace is here

Tearing Down an Old Barn to Repurpose the Timbers in the house is here

The adventure of utilizing the first few timbers as a Fireplace Mantle is here

Utilizing more timbers in a big room upstairs – Of Trials and Strong Backs is here

No One Will Ever See It – an Adventure In Remodeling is here

We are still not finished, but you can see “The Aftermath” of one barn beam project here

Sometimes you have to look back… at scary pictures here

More looking back… Scary pictures, recycling and repurposing here

The surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise is here

Oops, I did it again – showing our unfinished house to strangers here



  1. It looks amazing! Sadly, this story sounds all too familiar, only our wood is reclaimed flooring from an old house that we intended to use as flooring in our home. When my husband gets home from work I’m going to have him read your post. You might just be the inspiration we need. 🙂


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