willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Pulling Back the Curtain on a Barn Sale

At Life’s Patina, we go to great heights each and every barn sale to bring you artfully arranged displays in the hopes that your experience here will be a memorable one.

Even though our barn sales last only a mere four days, preparations start at least four months prior. Many of you have asked how we put it all together. Here I hope to answer that question by pulling back the curtain on how we make these sales happen!

PHASE 1 – Buying Trip in Atlanta

We actually start the planning and ordering of all of the new treasures that we will integrate into the old during our annual trip to Americas Mart in Atlanta. Here, we are actually able to touch and feel each and every item that we will order, as we feel that’s integral to the quality of what we offer at the barn. Our hearts are in the vintage items that we find on our treasure hunting trips but when I started this business, I felt that it was important to supplement the old with new items that enrich the design of our vintage treasures and provide beautiful options at many price points. It also enables us to please more of our customers, for not everyone likes ALL vintage. Crazy right????

PHASE 2 – Picking Trips Along the East Coast and Beyond

As we await the arrival of our new merchandise, we head out on the road for our picking trips, hitting some of our favorite spots as well as perusing newfound barns, basements, garages and the likes. We never know what we are going to find but we are guided by this mantra… “would I put this in my own home?”

If I would and it makes the cut, it gets loaded into our trailer!

PHASE 3 – Unloading, Organizing and Moving the Bones into Place

The large pieces then get unloaded out front of our barn.

The small items get loaded into the upper barn to be unpacked, cleaned, priced and like is grouped together with like.

After we unload, we inspect each item, specifically large pieces, to see what needs to be done to revive the piece to its former glory without wiping away its patina. Those pieces get moved into the horse barn.

   What is ready as is, except for a cleaning, gets moved into our main stone bank barn.

Once loaded into the stone bank barn, the large pieces get moved into their permanent spots for the sale. We call this “the bones” of the sale.

Their positions are determined by rudimentary drawings to lay out the design based on sketches that I scribble onto paper. Notice my cast here that’s made getting ready for our Fall Barn Sale quite the feat.

PHASE 4 – Installations

While this is all going on, we begin to install our light fixtures.

We hang our art work, frames and anything else we feel that we should hang. Often times they are heavy shutters or larger-than-expected items since the barn is such a cavernous space!

PHASE 5 – Restoration, Vignettes and Displays

Then, by sanding, staining, repainting, touching up and more, we restore and refinish the pieces that need it.  Finally, we begin ensuring all of the small items get artfully arranged and vignetted into beautiful displays that delight and inspire.

There are always surprises, like unexpected merchandise arriving late that must be unpacked and priced in a frenzy so that the goods can be included in displays. You would never know that there is a frenzy going on from Julie’s smile. She is always up for a good challenge!

This is where I leave off with the “before photos.” Well, one final photo for good measure, as it’s a great representation of what the “underbelly” of a barn sale looks like. It also illustrates why we are not open all the time!

 In our next post we will reveal what the fruits of our labor look like. And believe me, there is labor. Lots of it and as I have always said, I could not put this sale on without the help of some pretty amazing team members who are up for the challenge. I think the photos speak volumes. We are a team and we operate as one. It is a true labor of love, with countless hours upon hours of physical labor, number crunching and a little blood from errant hammers, splinters and the likes. It’s tears of both happiness as we succeed and high five each other for a task well done and equally, heart ache as we move through the motions without our incredibly precious team member Mark by our sides, providing support, muscle, directing and greeting our visitors and sharing his endless humor, optimism and positivity.

Life, my friend, is precious and we are so rewarded by all of you who visit us during our sale.

Thank you for appreciating and taking the time to relish in the scenes that we have created for you. Our biggest hope is that you leave our farm feeling joyful and inspired to create beauty in the every day in your own home, with a bagful of beautiful items that delight you.



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  1. Joyce Wells says:

    Would like to know if the dates coming up in April are by appointment or open to the public. If open, what will the hours be? If not, telephone number to make reservations.
    Thank you,
    Joyce Wells

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Joyce!

      We are open to the public with no appt needed from April 21st through April 23rd.
      Our hours are as follows:

      Fri, April 21st 10:00 am- 7:30 pm
      Sat, April 22nd 10:00 am- 5:00 pm
      Sun, April 23rd 10:00 am- 4:00 pm
      Hope to see you here!
      More information can be found on our website!