Barn transformed into B&B

Published 3:21 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

Debbie Shirey heard, “You’re a woman. You can’t do that,” many times as she sought bank financing to transform a barn into a home.

“Don’t tell me I can’t,” Shirey said to me. “That just makes me determined to do it.”

And she did in 1994 when the 160-year-old barn on family land became her home.

Shirey has lived in Calera since 1972.

Her parents bought land in south Calera that was used during the Civil War as a field hospital.

“It was a plantation owned by the Virgins,” said Shirey. “Mr. Virgin’s spinster daughters nursed wounded confederate soldiers.

When Shirey’s parents offered her a piece of property, she asked for the barn.

“They thought I had lost my mind when I told them I wanted to make it my home,” said Shirey. “I stayed up until 2:30 the next morning drawing plans.”

After interviewing seven contractors, she found one who caught her vision.

It took lots of elbow grease to remove the many layers of manure. “You’re sitting where the pigs were kept,” she joked.

The barn’s golden oak lumber was preserved and used in the reconstruction.

Steps leading to the converted hayloft were ceiling joists, pig troughs now serve as wall decor and the corn crib functions as a walk in closet.

Horses were stalled where the master bedroom and guest bedroom are located.

Shirey is an artist, crafter and decorator. She owned Hobbies of the Heart antique mall in Calera and has worked with Trading Spaces.

Since retiring, Shirey uses her home to cater weddings, showers, reunions and birthday parties.

She prepared poppy seed chicken casserole and pear salad for our lunch. She offered brownie a-la-mode for dessert, but I had no room after stuffing myself on the delicious entree.

Shirey plans to open a bed and breakfast this spring. Guests will relax in the spacious sunroom or sit a spell on the side porch.

They can roam over 20 acres of land that has three catfish ponds and a goat pasture.

The lower level of the house is handicap accessible; pets are welcomed.

The hayloft is her art studio, but will be utilized for large families.

“I love to open the windows up here in the summer for the cross breeze,” she said looking out the window. “The view is breathtaking.”

Shirey has not named her bed and breakfast, but likes This Ole’ Barn.

Mollie Brown is the new community columnist for Calera. She can be reached at