Of Paint and Raspberries

We continue to work on Oakleaf Cottage — this past week my family was here, and Dad worked hard helping us get all the rooms and all the new trim from JB Millworks painted. The place is a mess of painters tape, Dexter-esque plastic sheeting and brown paper covered windows. In short, I didn’t take interior photos this week.

We did, however, pick a few raspberries from the cottage garden and munch on them as a pre-dinner, “it’s 8:30 PM what are we going to do about dinner” debate. The long days of summer have often seen us pushing through the daylight hours until suddenly, our bellies announce they WILL reach for our backbones if we don’t deliver and fast.

We took a short walk around one of the trails this week, but mostly, we worked — which may not sound exciting, but every day we’re a little closer to making this one incredible little vacation getaway. We are still aiming for the end of August/First week of September — just in time for fall colors!

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Meeting Oakleaf Cottage

I’m still mentally trying to process how fast life changes. I’m sure Dave is, too.

Since March, we have been on the hunt for a property. Dave has spent many days checking out listing after listing, driving distances and evaluating possibilities. We came close a few times to making offers, but each time, something would happen… and, I just wasn’t excited about the properties. We can make a lot of things work and go toward our dreams, but I always said to Dave “We would know the right place when we found it.”

About 2 months ago, a house on 27 acres popped up on the market. As I skimmed the listing, my eyes got bigger. It had only been listed 12 hours before, at 5pm. I didn’t really dare to hope, as there’s always SOMETHING like a noisy road or a chicken plant in the way… but I contacted the agent and scheduled a viewing for noon that day.

Oakleaf Cottage Chattanooga 2

What we found was a long gravel driveway, with a cute-as-a-button house at the end of it. As Dave and I walked around, we each knew this was it. We only discussed it for a few minutes before heading to the real estate office and putting in an offer.

I’m telling you, we don’t even buy shoes that fast.

This felt like “the place.” I always knew I would know the “right place” when I felt it. The land has a few hurdles that my definition of the “right place” would have excluded — it’s heavily wooded, and on a slope. But it also has a lot of things that are oh-so-right. A barn, and trails, interesting terrain… and did I mention, the place just feels so calming, it’s like a spell has been cast and the busy world is just not important.

Chattanooga Barn

It’s perfect. It’s what we wanted. The other hurdles, we can get past.

Now here is where it involves you, my friends. This isn’t a place for us. It’s a place for people. It’s a place we have dreamed about and talked about for ten years… A place where people can come and relax, retreat from the busy world, and learn. We have big plans for those trails, and the barn, and have already started in on the house remodel.


As we explored a section of the property last night for a particular use in our plans, we agreed it seemed a dream. We can scarcely believe this gorgeous piece of property is ours. We sat on a boulder, and talked about what we saw in terms of what changes we should make and how to make the place even more special than it already is. We want people to come here and feel what we feel.

I swear there is like a magic in the mountains. It almost doesn’t matter where the mountains are, there are still magic in them. Out here, you can’t to feel stressed. You come up the driveway and it just melts off and becomes a memory. Before getting to work every evening, I find myself running up the hill side for the sheer exhilaration of it.

Ok, yeah….  I might also lose weight 🙂

Even as we are here spending our weekends working, we let ourselves be interrupted by beautiful moments. At times it is hard to stay inside because what is outside just beckons you to come out and play or explore.

I mentioned we have already started in — and I have more pictures to share on the Instagram account set up for it @Oakleaf_Cottage – but a few “Before” images are here: