Oct 9, 2020

Our Barn Quilt Climbing Wall

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Being home more than ever this year has forced us to get creative, hasn’t it? We’ve adapted and made things work and made the most of what we have, right where we are. Our kids, too! When all the parks were closed, they literally started climbing the walls in our house. As in, scaling door frames and climbing windowsills. My little monkeys were a bit stir-crazy. 🙃

They reminded me of a certain someone, to whom I am closely related—someone who was a junior national rock climber when we were kids. My brother, Stephen, used to scale stop signs with just a few fingers, climb buildings, and ascend pretty much anything he could get his hands on. My parents finally sent him to a climbing gym and the rest is history!

Early this summer, I called my brother and told him it was time for the Isaacsons to climb something other than door frames: a climbing wall! We had an open space on the side of our garage aaaand I had a little pipe dream that I thought would be the perfect complement to this project.

Let’s talk about my pipe dream for a minute. Hiking has become one of our family’s greatest joys and adventures over the last few years. We love the fresh air, getting out in the world God made, and discovering waterfalls together!

On our adventures through the North Carolina mountains, we drive past some of the most beautiful farms and… barn quilts! I fell in love with one in particular and kept thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to have a barn quilt on the side of our house? The open space on the side of our garage that faces our bedroom windows was the perfect spot.

So! Mommy’s pipe dream of having a barn quilt + the kiddos’ dream of having a climbing wall were combined into one magical project!

My brother helped me design this for safety and it was fairly easy to construct. Two pieces of 4′ x 8′ plywood, a few 2 x 4’s bolted into the studs of the garage wall, and voila! Our base was complete in about an hour!

Painting the barn quilt of my dreams took me a solid month, though. Ha! I went to our local hardware store where a very kind gentleman steered me in the direction of getting small paint samples, which saved me a ton of money on paint.

I also got a good water-based primer and weatherproof sealer. Oh and tape. Lots and lots of Frog tape! A few rollers, paintbrushes, and a ladder were my BFF’s every afternoon when I finished work. The kids were a big help, too!

The finishing touches: a sail tarp overhead to keep the sun away, a good floor mat that we bring out when we’re climbing, some solid helmets (the tree they climb in the front yard is higher than this wall, but we make them wear helmets if we’re not right there to catch them, just in case!), and most importantly: climbing holds.

I was pretty familiar with good climbing holds from growing up in the climbing gym with my brother, so Atomik holds were an easy choice.

And the colors were just perfect! Atomik will even let you choose a custom color. Josh was very into this project—especially using tools with dad!

And there you have it. We’re so happy with the result and love that we’ll be able to use this little space in every season!

I’d like to thank my trusty handyman, Ari, and our neighbor, Jeff, for loaning us every tool under the sun when I have crazy ideas for projects!

The kids are loving it, I’m loving the view from my bedroom window of the barn quilt of my dreams, and I hope this encourages you to get out there and climb, too! 🎉

P.S. These are definitely Cultivate colors! 🙂 Only a few more days till PowerSheets launch and you can add some joyful color to your life, too!


  1. Amanda on May 24, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Absolutely love this idea!! We’re looking at building one for our son’s birthday, and I was wondering what size climbing holds you’d recommend?

    • Lara on August 1, 2023 at 10:55 am

      How fun! We went with a big mix – really big ones and little crimpers. Enjoy!

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