|By Shelby Cooper
From the time we were small, my grandma and my husband’s grandparents instilled in us a great appreciation for things of the past. Dustin grew up working on his grandparents’ farm where old things weren’t thrown away, but rather saved and refashioned for another purpose. His Grandpa Riley built entire barns and sheds out of materials that he was given or salvaged. If you didn’t have it, you made it. If it was old, you made it new again. So my husband grew up with the ability to look at junk and see its true potential. He has been saving building materials and barn finds almost his entire life. Because of this, we are going to be able to build an amazing addition onto our home with minimal time spent at the big box stores. Who needs drywall when you have barn lumber?
Growing up around my grandma I learned the value of old things. She taught me how to crochet when I was five years old and how to knit at age seven. I had no idea at the time, but she was helping to keep a dying art alive. I spent a lot of time at her house, and while there I went through everything. There were boxes and boxes of material and supplies for her handicrafts and it was all old. To this day, she can still pull out pattern books that date back to the 50’s and bias tape that cost 25 cents. But one would expect no less from a woman who sews on a 100+ year old treadle Singer sewing machine.
Now we are grown, married, and have three kids of our own. And all the things Dustin and I have come to love are (gulp) popular. Neither of us are crowd followers by a long shot, but in this case we are among those leading the crowd. We are both lovers of what some might call junk, and we both love salvaged materials, which leads us to the barn wood. We love wood…and barns…and especially barn wood. One of my requirements when we bought a house was that it had to have an old red barn. Sadly, we don’t always get what we want, but at some point we would love to have one disassembled and put back up on our property. Fingers crossed.
Our more recent venture into selling barn wood began one evening when I was perusing Craigslist, and came across an ad for some red barn wood. I thought it would be great for crafting and since Dustin never let me have any of the stash he had squirreled away, I decided to buy it. $300 and a small trailer load of barn wood later, I decided I would sell some of the longer pieces and keep the shorter ones that were better for my projects. I posted it in a few groups on Facebook, and the demand was overwhelming. I ended up selling it all and still had people asking for more. Although Dustin has taken down several barns and has more to do, we can’t keep up with the demand. So I try to rescue old barn wood from the trash heap. Too often, I find the most gorgeous barn wood thrown in a pile bound for the landfill or ready to be burned. No one seems to want it, so I send Dustin with the trailer to bring it home.
The barn wood currently featured at The Perfect Pair has a story that begins in the Bluegrass State. It came off a barn built in the 1960s. As I was searching Craigslist, I came across an ad for a massive amount of red barn siding, well over 3,000 feet. It was stacked up nicely, but was quite obviously out in the elements. I decided we had to get this barn wood as quickly as possible, so it could be in the protection of Dustin’s grandma’s pole barn (one of those barns mentioned earlier that was built entirely of salvaged materials). I contacted Wanda, and she said bring as soon as possible. Once the nails were pulled, it got stacked on a trailer bound for Warrensburg.
We love being in the business of making old things new again. Salvaged and repurposed materials are the best kind, and this is something we’ve been doing for years not just since it has become a trend. Only recently has it transformed into somewhat of a business venture. Reclaimed materials are the best kind. The craftsmanship and labor that went into these old barns is unprecedented these days. The last thing we want to see is barns that have stood the test of time being burnt to the ground. What we do gives new life and a new purpose to them. This is more than simply fulfilling a need; it is a way of life. We were country when country wasn’t cool and will continue to be.
Dustin and Shelby Cooper reside in rural Herrick with their two sons and baby girl: Camo (5), Canon (2), and Hunter (10 months). They are busy renovating their newly purchased home with as much barn wood as possible