How to Paint a Barn Quilt (on a thrifted tray)

Friend, I am back on this beautiful day with some of my favorite creative blogging friends sharing our Trash to Treasure makeovers.  (See our past T2T makeovers Here.)  Some dramatic before and afters are sure to melt away the winter blahs!  This month I’m teaching how to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray.

This big tray was marked $4.99 at Goodwill, and I got it for half off.  Gotta love that!

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.Quick story: My friend Helen owns a shop in St. Charles, MO called Helen Nichole Designs, where she sells home decor and upcycled furniture.  She also offers painting classes, and I saw on her Facebook page that she was painting barn quilts as wall art.  Honestly I had no idea what a barn quilt was, but I loved how the art looked and it sparked me into doing some research.

Here’s one of Helen’s paintings:

Barn quilts are basically large wooden squares (usually 8x8ft or even 4x4ft) that have been painted to look like a quilt and are hung on the side of a barn as a symbol of the farm and the family’s heritage.  (Learn more here – it’s very interesting!)  

Unfortunately I’m too far to take a class from Helen, and I couldn’t find hardly any tutorials online.  But I did look through Pinterest for inspiration and found a pattern I loved.  I think it’s called a Star or Starburst.

With no directions, I went to Excel to make my own template.  The tray was 17×17 inches, so I made a square that was 17 boxes wide and 17 boxes tall.  Then I made lines every 2 inches and played around with the different parts of the design until it made sense and looked a little like my inspiration piece.  I also colored in some of the areas in Excel to make it easier when I painted.

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.*This post contains some affiliate links so you can easily find the items I use and recommend.  Find a list of all of my favorite DIY products and tools Here.

How to paint a barn quilt on a tray:

Products used:  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Duck Egg, French Linen, Paris Grey, and Old White.  My favorite Purdy paint brushesDelicate Surface FrogTape3M 320-grit sandpaper.  Annie Sloan’s clear wax.

First the tray was cleaned and lightly sanded.  Then I painted it in Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Duck Egg.

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.Next I measured and marked every 2 inches on the tray (except 8 1/2 in the middle) with a pencil.

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.Instead of drawing lines everywhere, I made little plus marks at each intersection.How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Then, following the Excel sheet I made, I started taping off areas with FrogTape.  I started with the dark gray areas first (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen), painting several of them at once as long as the tape wouldn’t overlap sections.  Be sure to remove the FrogTape while the paint is still slightly dry so your lines will be more crisp.

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.Next for the barn quilt tray I taped and painted the light gray areas (Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Paris Grey which has a hint of lavender color, especially on top of the blue paint).How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Then I went back and finished painting the rest of the dark gray areas.How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

And then the rest of the light gray.How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Phew, that’s a lot of tape so far!  If you plan to paint a barn quilt, make sure you have a decent amount of painter’s tape.

It’s not finished yet, but here’s how it looks now (the light gray is still wet on the middle arrows).How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Finally, paint the white areas in two different sessions being sure not to overlap the tape.  I used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Old White.How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Touch up any little blemishes with a small artist’s brush and then lightly sand with 320-grit sandpaper.   Protect it with clear wax or any other non-yellowing topcoat.  (Note: my barn quilt painted tray is not food safe.)How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

I love how this can be used standing up as an art piece or laying down as a tray!How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

I’ve been into sewing a lot more lately since launching Thread and Cloth Studio (find my handmade cloth animal dolls on Instagram and Facebook), and I’d love to make a quilt someday.  I have a lot of respect for people who do!

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

I did make a little mistake in measuring/marking but I don’t think it’s very noticeable – let’s just say if I was making my own barn quilt art on a wood background I would make sure the sides were all an even width instead of odd.

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Here it is styled as a regular tray:

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

Here’s a reminder of the before and after photos of How to Paint a Barn Quilt on a Thrifted Tray (feel free to Pin for easy access later):

How to paint a barn quilt on a thrifted tray for a beautiful art piece. Step by step DIY tutorial by Girl in the Garage.

I’d love to know what you think of this $2.50 Goodwill tray makeover – and also let me know if you’re familiar with barn quilts.  I learned so much while researching this project!  xo

*

And now it’s time again for Trash to Treasure Tuesday with my girls:

Below are the Before photos – visit the links underneath to see the amazing Afters and to learn how they did it!

Trash to Treasure Makeovers - Feb 20191. Prodigal Pieces
2. Confessions of a Serial DIYer
3. Artsy Chicks Rule
4. Bless’er House

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34 Comments on How to Paint a Barn Quilt (on a thrifted tray)

  1. Tammy
    February 12, 2019 at 7:41 am (1 month ago)

    Thanks for the share. I am a quilter and love barn quilts. Link for no. 4 is not working (from your blog or any of the other blogs also)

    Reply
  2. Sue Dingmann
    February 12, 2019 at 8:26 am (1 month ago)

    Wow! I love it! Computer skilled and an artist! This is one of my favorite Trash to Treasure Tuesday items!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:26 pm (1 month ago)

      Wow, thank you so much Sue! (and yes I’m a nerd when it comes to Excel… LOL)

      Reply
  3. Christy James
    February 12, 2019 at 9:35 am (1 month ago)

    What an undertaking…this looks amazing, Jen!! Now I want one too ha ha! LOVE! XOXO
    Christy James recently posted…Drop Leaf RepurposedMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:25 pm (1 month ago)

      Haha! Thanks Christy – I think it would be gorgeous on furniture!

      Reply
  4. Robyn Wright
    February 12, 2019 at 11:48 am (1 month ago)

    Love the colors!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:25 pm (1 month ago)

      Thank you Robyn! I wasn’t completely sure at first, but I think they look good together too. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Teresa
    February 12, 2019 at 2:03 pm (1 month ago)

    Love this! I’m going to have to try it. 😀

    Reply
  6. Barbara
    February 12, 2019 at 2:12 pm (1 month ago)

    Love this!

    Reply
  7. Dixie Lee
    February 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm (1 month ago)

    I have been pinning tons of barn quilts and put them on my list of workshops I’d like to give/take, so this is quite illuminating, thanks.

    Reply
  8. Stephanie Chatterjee
    February 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm (1 month ago)

    That looked hard to me but it came out great!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:23 pm (1 month ago)

      Thank you Stephanie! I was hoping the photos wouldn’t be too confusing, but it’s kinda hard to show every little step. I need to learn how to make a video which would be more helpful I’m sure 🙂

      Reply
  9. Paula
    February 12, 2019 at 3:10 pm (1 month ago)

    It’s traditional that quilts have some small error. Linda like your tray. So in my book you did an outstanding t2t. Love it

    Reply
  10. Nancy
    February 12, 2019 at 3:21 pm (1 month ago)

    All that measuring and taping! Wow! Genius. What a beautiful idea. My hats off to you for this project.

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:20 pm (1 month ago)

      Thank you Nancy! It was a bit of work but I’m so happy with the results – it’s on display on my mantel now. ❤️

      Reply
  11. Marcie Lovett
    February 12, 2019 at 4:56 pm (1 month ago)

    That was some project, Jen! It was worth all the effort – magnificent result. You definitely made the most of that castoff tray!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:18 pm (1 month ago)

      Thank you Marcie! I did spend a lot of time on this project Sunday but it wasn’t too bad. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Marie Blackburn
    February 12, 2019 at 8:31 pm (1 month ago)

    Oh my goodness, I love this! A lot of work but so worth the effort. I bookmarked your link to learn more about these barn quilts when time permits. Gorgeous save, Jen!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 13, 2019 at 10:17 pm (1 month ago)

      Thanks so much Marie! I’m so glad I learned about barn quilts, they’re gorgeous and I might have to do another someday… 🙂

      Reply
  13. Kimberly
    February 13, 2019 at 7:14 pm (1 month ago)

    This is fabulous! You are so talented and creative. You put almost as much time and work into this tray as if you made a fabric quilt block! Awesome job!

    Reply
  14. Jennifer
    February 14, 2019 at 7:31 am (1 month ago)

    Can’t believe how timely this is! In December I visited a quilt shop in Michigan. The owner’s husband has a sign business, and they make barn quilt signs for homes and barns. I started thinking that I’d really like one for my own house, as I am also a quilter. Now, I can try painting my own. Thank you, Jen.

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      February 17, 2019 at 9:33 pm (4 weeks ago)

      Oh that’s so cool! I’d love to see how yours turns out Jennifer! 🙂

      Reply
  15. Lisa
    March 11, 2019 at 2:51 pm (7 days ago)

    Hi Jen, this turned out great!! Love the concept, using the tray, the pattern and the colors! I’m more of a beginning DIYer but I do think is something I could take on (fingers crossed).

    Once really quick question. When you say “Protect it with clear wax or any other non-yellowing topcoat.” could you possibly recommend a specific brand like you did with the paint? I’ll get there but just need a little more information on this one aspect and product, like is it a spray on, wipe on, paint on wax or top coat and what is your favorite to use for a project like this one?

    Thanks again for sharing and great job!!

    Reply
    • Jen, Girl in the Garage
      March 11, 2019 at 9:35 pm (7 days ago)

      Thank you Lisa!
      I usually use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for my projects, and then also use Annie’s clear wax as a topcoat. You can apply it with a lint-free cloth for smaller projects (like this tray) or a wax brush (also from Annie Sloan) for bigger furniture pieces. Here’s an older post I wrote about using wax: https://girlinthegarage.net/2013/08/vanity-makeover-annie-sloan-chalk-paint-review I don’t use cheap chip brushes anymore because the bristles always came out easily and drove me crazy. Also – Annie Sloan now has 4 “colors” of soft wax available: clear, dark (brown), white, and black. The tinted ones can add a lot of dimension and a totally different look to your finish. If you’re interested in Annie Sloan products I recommend finding an approved retailer near you (they’re all trained very well and also teach classes) or there are tons of videos on YouTube. 🙂 Hope that helps!

      Reply

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