I have always wanted a barn, as both a type of horse dollhouse and a place that I can photograph my model horses. So, I decided to customize a Breyer Deluxe Wood Barn with Cupola. I love the versatility this barn has to offer. It has so many different applications for photography, in addition to being a place I can decorate in whatever way I see fit.
This stable came in unfinished wood, so I decided to stain the barn before I put it together. The first stop was the hardware store, where I left with four cans of stain and materials, as well as gloves and a mask. I have never used stain before, so I was really excited to get started. I picked colors that I felt reflected a real barn, while avoiding colors that were too dark or bright since the barn is part of the picture, and not the picture itself.
Alternately, I could have chosen paint for the barn, but opted for stain since the wood was unfinished, making stain a slightly easier option. That being said, I think it would be incredibly fun to paint it, too. There are infinite possibilities with this barn, and I love how you can really personalize it to be your own.
This is how I made a box of wooden pieces into a home for horses.
I separated the pieces by color with my helper. I labeled each jar of stain since they have funny names, and I didn’t want to mix them up. Stain is not easy to remove, so I wanted to make sure I got it right the first time.
I worked my way through all the pieces, staining each one the color I chose for it. The stains were not very dark, (except for the roof’s) but the difference was immediately noticeable.
Some of the pieces needed more than one coat of stain to take the color to where I wanted it. Staining is a very messy and smelly thing to do! I made sure to protect my work area, which was a place that has great ventilation. This is a must!
With all the pieces stained or spray painted, I was ready to start constructing my barn.
And just like that, it’s a barn! You can really see the difference the stain makes when you put it all together.
Now that I have this amazing barn stained, built and ready, it is time to move in. There are some really amazing props and accessories out there in Traditional and Freedom Series (Classics/1:12) scale to make this a realistic working barn for your Breyer horses. The sky is really your limit.
And we now go down the rabbit hole to the fun part... accessories!
When it comes to accessories, Breyer has so much of it covered! One set even comes with POOP!
There is nothing I love more than little bitty stuff. I mean, it is so much fun to explore the world of miniatures! There were a couple additional things I thought were important, which are mostly easy to find, such as sawdust and hay. Some small-scale props I made myself (see other articles on the Tack and Prop Making and DIY blogs).
When I am out and about, I always keep my eyes open for anything I can use in the barn or for model horse props. It is amazing where you might find things that are suitable. Think art and craft stores, antique stores, toy stores, and even thrift shops. Online, there is a plethora of resources that sell additional items for 1:9 or 1:12 scale that will work. Even in the pet store you can find shavings and hay if you need it. Going outside, you can grab some dried grass that works perfectly well for hay or bedding!
When I am setting up accessories in my barn, I try and visualize what a real working stable would look like. I find the details are the most important element to creating a realistic portrait of a working barn. And when I put it all together, I have convincing scene for my model horses.
And now for my gallery. I hope these pictures inspire you to create your own beautiful stable. Without further adieu, I present to you my dream barn…
(Keep reading after these photos for a behind-the-scenes look at how I did it!)
Using the drapes from the Show Stable Accessories set to create a show scene.
I love how festive they are!
Vet visit for the new foal! Lots of details in this picture make it convincing.
Grooming is important, especially on a light-colored horse!
Adding little things here and there makes it more realistic.
A rider proudly displaying her winnings after a long day at the show.
Busy lesson barn!
Cooling out after a class.
Waiting for the lesson rider to come.
Time for supper!
Bringing in the horses.
I found this backdrop to be perfect for giving the sense of open pasture.
The grass is a piece of fabric specially made to look like grass.
Part of making something realistic is adding small touches.
The posters and signs are printed images hung up with sticky wax or tape.
Happens to the best of us.
Another picture from the horse show.
Here's a look at how I created my final barn setup!
This is what it looked like for one of the setups. The backdrops are essential for realism, unless you take the barn outside, which is absolutely an option! Spring rain made this impossible for me.
Ground level is where you get your best shots. This set up was too big for a table. Note all the bins of stuff! Organization is crucial for finding things easily.
The final shot for this setup. This was taken on a cell phone and I am very happy with the quality of the picture! You don’t need an expensive camera, just creativity and a good angle for a picture.
Just remember, when taking a photograph, perspective is everything!
Want to give your barn an even more "lived-in" feel beyond just staining the wood? Check out Raising the Bar(n) - Part II and Part III for instructions on how to use materials such as pastels, steel wool and and hobby wood to add tiny details that will make it a cut above the rest!