Liz’s Barn Quilts offers a fun, joyful alternative to ordinary design

By Olivia McClure

For Elizabeth Summar, the road trips she took up and down the East Coast growing up proved to be more than just a summertime diversion.
In truth, it was during these car rides with her mother that Summar was first introduced to barn quilts — wooden, multi-colored, hand painted quilts originally intended to be displayed outdoors.

“Me and my mom loved them,” Summar says. “So, about six years ago, for Christmas, I decided to do one for my mom, and I did another one for another family member, and then it just kind of boomed from there.”

Realizing how much people loved her quilts, Summar established Liz’s Barn Quilts, which she has been operating now for about six years out of her home in Portland, Tennessee. In that time she has sold nearly 300 quilts to people in Utah,  Connecticut, and just about every Southern state.

“People put them on their houses, their front porches, their back porches,  their shops, [or] their barns,” Summar says. “So, that’s how I pretty much started, and then I started branching out to more interiors.

Recently, Summar met contemporary artist Mark Hobley, who was impressed with her work. After Summar made a barn quilt for Hobley’s home, the two decided to collaborate on projects together, and an artistic – and beneficial – friendship was born.

“We’ve got about ten pieces going on that are either completed or in the process,” Summar says. “And, he has really brought a new level… he’s taught me some things about shading and stuff like that, and I’ve started incorporating that into my work myself. And people are just responding to it and love it. I think it’s going to go a long way.”

While customers always have an idea of what the final product will look like, the result is somewhat a mystery — and that’s exactly what Summar loves the most about her job.

“To see that final product, and when they come and pick it up, there’s an element of surprise,” Summar says. “You know, I do send them pictures throughout the process, but when they come and see it in person, and the look on their face when they see it — that brings me so much joy.”