For the Love of a Midwestern Barn

Last week, my busy and private friend, Margaret Cox and I got together for a day that started with cappuccino at her beautiful home near Rockton, Illinois. Margaret and her husband, Kevin Darrah, own a company, Darrah Barns, that installs barn beams in the homes of those that appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of Midwestern barns. The beams, saved from Wisconsin and Illinois barns set for demolition, are moved to a place where they are appreciated. Isn’t that a worthwhile business?

These few pictures don’t adequately illustrate the majesty of their buildings, grounds and the interior decoration. But, they will give you the tiniest idea of what this talented couple create together. They are private people-so we won’t find any other pictures of their property on the Internet.

The photos start with the entrance to the property. A glimpse of the stream that is home to seven swans.


There is a charming and unique view from every window.







 An entrance way.




 Isn’t this a fabulous piece of furniture with its mustard paint?


Chromolithographs among other religious art works and family photos.


A stenciled floor in a bedroom.

Everywhere one looks in this home, there are stunning bursts of color against a canvas of the wood from ancient barns. They collect, as you can see, antique religious artwork made by artists of Europe and America in centuries past. Statues are serenely beautiful set against Margaret’s signature lavender walls and the tall ceilings. I wish I had more time to take photos so I could show you the kitchen. Margaret’s kitchens work so beautifully with an open floor plan because they don’t necessarily look like a kitchen.

The last photograph is a close-up of the dining room table. I admire the way they juxtapose the elegant vintage fabric against a Victorian primitive beadboard wall. This style spotlights the characteristics of both elements in the most beautiful way.


Do you see the back of the upholstered bench behind the table? This is the fabric that I am always telling people not to remove from upholstered chairs. I think it is from the 1940’s. Right now, it is trendy in Europe, so we know that trend will come here in 2-3 years. But, that isn’t why I discourage people from ripping it from overstuffed vintage chairs. The quality is exceptional and once you get an appreciation of it, you will be enthralled with its beauty and pattern. I’ve removed it from chairs, washed it and put it back on. Look out for it when you are out and about, it was expensive and everyone will be looking for this fabric soon.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a delightful week. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this home!


18 thoughts on “For the Love of a Midwestern Barn

  1. So many thoughts about this post. I wish I had your friends, I wish I could afford a reclaimed wood ceiling, I wish I knew what kind of fabric that is. All I can tell is it’s a jacquard. Is it thicker or using a different fabric?

    I love old religious statues, there is something about them that is so calming, minus the bloody Jesus on the cross. Not a fan. Although I wonder how calming they would be in the middle of the night when I went for a glass of water?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Deidre,
      It is jacquard loomed and there are different types, but all of upholstery weight. The most expensive would be partially silk, and I think that other fabrics had a rayon blend. I will do a post on this because I am interested, too. Thank you so much for stopping over today.


    • Hi Deidre,
      I wish I had a barn beam ceiling, too. It can actually be done to any house with a peaked roof and changes everything about the rooms with the added height. Maybe someday!


  2. Wow, the photo of the swans with that backdrop is just as beautiful and tranquil as it gets. Just goes to show all it takes is the art of nature (and a little lawn manicuring!)


    • Denise, You are right on the mark. Margaret and Kevin are very tuned in to the relationship between landscape and dwelling. The stone covered barn buildings merge with nature effortlessly. Even the way the stream flows seems to be part of the design. And all of this must have been carefully thought out before the building began.


  3. First, a huge thanks to Margaret and her husband for so graciously allowing you to post these magnificent photographs! My goodness….they are the kind of people who I understand cherish their privacy, so this was not taken lightly.

    What a beautiful living environment! This is definitely not “just a house.” It is a home in every sense of the word. The tone is set with the peaceful, beautiful swans at the entrance. The religious works of art are astoundingly pretty and add to the serenity. Every detail is just perfection!

    I am a lifelong Midwesterner (right smack dab in the middle of the country in Kansas City, MO!), and I grew up visiting my grandparents’ farm in rural Sabetha, KS. near the Nebraska border. I grew up appreciating the craftsmanship and sheer simple beauty of a barn. I live near farms here in Lee’s Summit, MO, and there are many beautiful barns to be seen as I drive to the grocery store or shopping mall. I truly appreciate the juxtaposition between the majestic barns on the farmland and the subdivisions that surround them. It’s actually pretty neat.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s an education for some, a step back in time for others, and a fabulous day-to-day reality for others.


    • Alycia,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I didn’t know you were a Midwestern, too! Yes, the religious artwork does add the most serene feeling to their home, with their graceful hands and uplifted eyes. As the American wooden barn disappears from this area to be replaced by the metal pole barn, I hope that more people appreciate and take care of theirs. Meanwhile, Margaret and Kevin are saving all they can.


  4. Hi there – loved this post. I finally made it over to read your blog. I love wood ceilings and always ask my clients to consider doing one to add character to suburban houses. Never thought of using barn beams however. Thanks for the tip about the fabric I probably would have trashed it in favor of something new. Look forward to browsing through the blog.


    • Hi Victoria!
      I’m glad you stopped over! There are so many great blogs on the Internet, sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Vintage textiles are an interesting field. I love barkcloth and feedsack cotton and all the different types I come across, because the quality is so much better than what is in average store today. It is the same with vintage art. The printing techniques used then will never be used again, particularly chromolithographs. Even seed catalogs were chromolithographs until the 1910’s and 1920’s. These are as bright and colorful today as when they were originally made. They don’t fade. Fascinating stuff.


  5. As I’ve said, I hate waste! =) So you know I love what your friends do. To bring out the beauty and functionality of something old, broken, and dusty. Just wonderful. You just made me realize I don’t have ready access to such places that feel timeless in their beauty. Unless I go chasing museums. Sad.

    I think you’ll want a “d” in the “move”, by the way. Please delete this part of the comment. =) Just meaning to be helpful.

    “are move to a place”
    Great job with the photos. I’ve never seen anything mustard look so classy.



    • Thank you, Diana. I’ll fix that.

      I know what you mean about the timeless places. You made me remember that I’ve been in places that seemed either timeless or else I could feel time moving through them. That is such a unique thought. Sometimes, someone says or writes something that makes one think, “I’ve experienced that feeling but didn’t have the words for it before.” That was good.


  6. Ginene–Your friends’ home is what design magazine editors dream of. Quiet elegance just pops through the computer screen. Delightful and serene. Thank you and them for sharing.


  7. Ginene,
    You said it all: “Beautiful. . . Charming. . . Unique. . . ” The setting, those ceilings, their use of color! Thank you to your friends for sharing their home. ~ Joanne


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