How to use red accents: don’t shy away from barn red.

“Shying Away.” This knot seems to be trying to hide in the crack between the wood planks. Oh, how there are days I feel the same way. Just let me sneak away from the chaos of the world. I love the detail and texture in this barn red: a subdued red with earthy tones. Learn how to use red accent wall art for a perfect touch of energy in your decorating.

“The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” — all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass or earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life — the things going on –within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”
–Ansel Adams

What’s so special about old barn wood, you say?

History. Endurance. Imagination.
If these knots could talk, we’d hear some wicked tales.
This particular barn wall close-up is from Bodie State Historic Park, also known as Bodie Ghost Town. Walking through town, I was attracted to this barn, known humbly as “Red Barn.” Back in the 1800s, they didn’t have time for clever names. They had too many chores.
I gravitate to textures and patterns, so there is no surprise that I wanted to take this photo. But the surprise is, after studying the barn, only a bit of red paint remains on one side of the building. The rest of the wood planks are exposed and raw from the ravages of weather over many years of abandonment.
In its heyday during the gold rush days, Bodie was a booming town and developed quite a reputation. With gold comes greed and all sorts of elements. There were nearly 60 saloons, several gambling halls, loads of brothels, and some opium dens. Gunfights and shootings occurred regularly, and the town supported two mortuaries. Yikes.
After the gold ran out, the people vacated, and the town sat empty. Then, after the last holdouts left, the family of the town’s major landowner hired caretakers to protect the area from vandals and looters. And then, in 1962, California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the buildings and artifacts.

So why don’t they repaint the barn?

When California State Parks took over Bodie, the historical designation allowed for the preservation of the buildings but no improvements. While roofing and stabilization of the structures are permitted, no painting or restoration of the buildings is allowed.
Sitting high in the Eastern Sierra at over 8,000 feet in elevation, this red barn paint will continue to be wind-swept with blowing snow in winter; and blistered by the sun the rest of the year. This state of arrested decay will continue to progress just as it began to decline after the gold rush’s heyday of the 1880s.
That’s what makes this abstract print a capture. Here’s a moment in time, and you get to enjoy a fleeting piece of history; one day, that red paint will be just a memory floating in the wind.

The intrigue and beauty of vintage wood.

I love the spirit of old wood: the grain, the roughness, and the knots remind me of how trees spend years putting down deep roots. Wood gave man an essential ingredient for us to put down our roots.  And just like a person, the tree that produced these planks had a unique journey.
There aren’t trees growing at that elevation in Bodie other than a small grove of aspens nearby. So to construct homes, stores, hotels, and restaurants, wood was cut and hauled from miles away by horse and wagon, and later rail. Imagine the drama this barn wood witnessed along the route.
This tree’s journey ended at what might seem like the top of the world. But this was the proverbial end of the line in a remote, desolate area. After the arduous journey, rough hands unloaded the wood at the lumber mill. As if all of what transpired before wasn’t enough shock for this tree,  the next chapter brought it face to face with the rotating blades and teeth of a saw. The final act was a hefty pounding of hammers and piercing nails.
That was the destiny of this tree. To be hewn into a wood plank, then left to spend day upon day observing the roughly 8,000 residents go to town. The rough-and-tumble characters in this mining community held up stage coaches, threw fists in bloody street fights, and when tempers escalated into a rage, they drew their guns. Violence and lawlessness were commonplace.
And to a piece of wood, what a fright to watch the fires that consumed many of the wooden structures of Bodie in 1877. Then just when that memory faded, the Standard Mill burst into flame in 1898. And finally, the barn wood watched another fire consume a good portion of the town in 1932. How frightening waiting for fate to blow sparks your way. 
No wonder that little knot is trying to sneak into hiding. I’d shy away too.

During the 1880s, the saying, “paint the town red,” had little to do with color.

But a lot to do with a riotous time.

Those early pioneers weren’t always wreaking chaos. A good number of the citizens were building a community. They desired to improve their lives and grow. These were a resourceful bunch.
Falu red is the name of a paint color traditionally used across our country and in Europe for painting barns. Early on, rust was plentiful, and paint wasn’t. Mixing rust with other minerals created a sealant that retarded moss and fungi from rotting the wood. Plus, the price was right. The tradition stuck.

And guess what? Red is trending now.

Doesn’t that make you wonder what that means?

While it seems like there’s a resurgence of Wild West recklessness in the world lately, we are enjoying a resurgence of red colors. The reason for the popularity right now? We are looking to surround ourselves with positive energy and add a sense of individuality to our surroundings. So bringing the warmth of red inside gives us a lift. Plus, the more subtle reds create an atmosphere that feels safe.
graphic of trending words with red color in background

Red is a bold color that can bring energy and excitement to any room.

With its warmth, muted barn red delivers a supporting, accentuating color that emphasizes something special. As a result, red is an excellent way to make a striking impression.

Add a touch of optimism to your world with this red barn aesthetic.

Perhaps you are a little shy about painting an entire room red. That little wood knot would not blame you. An easy way to add a pop of red to your space is by using red wall art as an accent. This artwork comes in many forms, such as paintings, prints, and posters. It’s also inexpensive to add a red aesthetic to any room with an accent.
Let’s look at how my print, “Shying Away,” can add that radiating, positive energy into several types of rooms.

Let’s add some excitement to your space with “Shying Away.”

But how much red is enough, and how much red is too much?

Typically it’s best to follow the 60-30-10 rule, which states that 60% of the room should be the dominant color, 30% should be the secondary color, and 10% should be an accent color. Take a look at your dominant color and then your secondary. Will barn red be the accent color to make your room pop?
For all of red’s vibrancy, one important decorating tip is to avoid a lot of contrast as you add red to your decor. Instead, apply smaller doses of red so there’s a balance between colors preventing the room from becoming unrelaxing.
You’ll be able to achieve that warm cocoon feeling to unwind. Which makes red wall art ideal for a red barn aesthetic.

What other colors partner well with “Shying Away?”

Barn red is a subdued red with earthy tones: a warm and serene contrast to a room with natural light. Predominant colors in this abstract photo are earth yellow, camel brown, almond, pale carmin, and Tuscan red. Complimentary colors to these will be in lighter blue tones like Air Force Academy Blue and Queen Blue. Because of the earthiness, you’ll find this piece to be a partner in a room with brown or even gray colors.

Get creative when choosing to accent a wall with red.

First, decide what space could use this type of energy. Next, locate a focal point in your room. Think mantel, sofa, table, headboard–something that sets that wall apart. How would “Shying Away” fit above those spaces?
Or perhaps you have a lonely wall that would love to spend some time with another of his kind? Ah! Well, there’s that space right above the toilet or on the opposite wall as you sit on the commode with the door closed. Don’t snicker. It’s an important space, and you and your guests will inevitably spend some time there. So you might as well have art to contemplate.
Walls that divide spaces are also suitable for adding a transition with wall art. Think high-energy areas to low-energy spaces. Red is going to pick up the pace. For instance, there’s an energy change between the living and dining rooms. That could be a good choice for adding a red art print.

Curious if a red barn aesthetic fits your room?

Let’s look at how “Shying Away” might work in your home. Email a photo of the room you are considering to Position your phone parallel to the wall, so the wall doesn’t angle. Then give me your best estimate of the wall width. If you are short on time or can’t find the measuring tape, use your feet for a rough measurement. There’s a reason they call them a foot. It’s not an exacting science, but works well in a pinch. Finally, I’ll place “Shying Away” virtually in your space with software magic so you can visualize your room easily.
Head silhouette with Grand Canyon layers inside

Like art that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete like barn wood?

Don't be shy!

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