Renovations Galore (part 1)

The month of August, we undertook a few big projects. One that I will reveal later, is our new parking lot (which is SUPER exciting all by itself!). But first, I wanted to reveal the big change in the ceremony area behind the barn:

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IT’S LEVEL! And it has grass. And brick steps. And steps leading down to the trail where folks like to explore and some of the BEST wedding photos happen among the rocks.

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Here is how it looked a couple of months ago for a photoshoot — you can see it isn’t quite flat, but it also slopes quite a bit off the barn. We had added five feet of dirt earlier in 2017 and it compacted enough for use just in time for weddings last November, but over time it was still settling and nowhere near as level as we wanted it to be. Plus the grass from seed kept dying. We went for sod this time.

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I went digging for how much this space behind the barn has changed since we bought the land just over two years ago — I found this one, from January 2017 (with Cookie in it, which made me sad all over again).

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You can see how MUCH it sloped — there was barely a useable area back here at all, certainly nothing for ceremonies.

And now, with 2 feet more of dirt in some places, plus rock — we treated it like a golf course, after a friend’s excellent suggestion. We have a couple inches of rock below the topsoil — that way, the ground dries faster than if it were only dirt alone. Drainage considerations on a mountain are serious stuff:

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We did most all of this leveling by HAND you guys. That means shovels, and wheelbarrows, and sore bodies. There’s no way to get equipment through the barn, and to go around back is a little dangerous for machinery… and still slow. So by hand it was. We have the muscles to prove it. For a while we were looking pretty svelte too… but I think a few quarts of ice cream may have caught up with us since then.

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The first little set of stairs are reclaimed brick from an old chimney in St Elmo, set with railroad ties to make them pretty long. They were not leveled yet in this shot– just placed down so we knew we had enough of them.

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Same view, from a few months ago with our photoshoot with Hillary Leah.

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One last before and after! We’re so thrilled to have it looking like…. an event space!

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Next post… parking!

A Summer Styled Shoot

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This styled wedding shoot was six months in planning, and just kept getting bigger! What started out as an email from photographer Hillary Leah wanting to take photos eventually grew into a bigger shoot with 10 fabulous Chattanooga area wedding vendors.

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Plates & silverware: Chattanooga Tent  |  Goblets, Candles: The Copper Quail  |  Floral: Creekside Flower Farm  |  Linen: Avocado Hand Dyed Runner by Nade Studio  |  Pottery: Facture Goods

We love styled shoots. It’s like putting together a “dream team” of vendors you’d love to work with more without the pressure and timeclock of an actual event. The creativity flows, everyone has a little time to visit and get to know one another… and they’re just fun.

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Creekside Flower Farm is a stone’s throw away from us. Morgan grows all the wildflowers AND makes arrangements and floral decor – isn’t this bouquet stunning?

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Kerry Dransoff is the bomb! She created this stunning wedding updo, tucking in a few leaves as accent

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We are in love with these little gold and marble tables, paired with vintage furnishings from The Copper Quail. They made our deck look so styling!

outdoor wedding vintage furniture

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We were delighted to meet Steve of Decor 1601, and to see our barn draped in soft white fabric! There are so many visions we have for this place, it was delightful to see this come to life.

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The invitations were jaw-dropping, on specialty paper, watercolored and gold leafed… and even wax sealed. Laura of Laura Lines Calligraphy is so beyond talented.

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The “ceremony” took place on our Front Lawn, in front of our massive old oak tree. We’ve no idea how old this tree is, but three people would be needed to circle it.

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Ghost chairs from Luma Designs allow the forest to take center stage. Draping by Decor 1601, ivy from our grounds added by Creekside Flower Farm.

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‘Reception’ was held behind the barn — we never grow tired of those rocks…

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Bs Sweets made the ombre & gold cake — looks so perfect on The Copper Quail’s bar cart!

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It was our model’s 2nd wedding anniversary on the day of the shoot. They stayed the night at the Cottage and we made arrangements for their sweet pooch to join on the fun!

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Makeup by Haley Settles

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Links and special thanks to allllll the vendors and artists whose work is in this shoot!

Photography: Hillary Leah

Cake: Bssweets

Vintage Furnishings, candlesticks, goblets: The Copper Quail

Ghost Chairs: Luma Designs

Plates: Chattanooga Tent

Draping: Decor 1601

Design Coordination: Khloe and Bailey with Wildflower Wedding Planning

Makeup: Haley Settles

Hair: Kerry Dransoff

Wildflowers: Creekside Flower Farm

Invitations: Laura Lines Calligraphy

Gold-edge Pottery: Facturegoods

Dyed Linen: Nade Studio

Oakleaf Cottage Wedding Featured in Junebug Weddings!

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We have to tell you about an amazing couple — more than once we have gushed at how incredible it was that they had hiked to the bottom of Cloudland Canyon State Park for those waterfall photos … without breaking a sweat, messing up makeup, or even slightly staining that beautiful dress. They came out looking as fresh and amazing as when they left!

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But what we haven’t said much of is this — when Rachel and Josh first came to see our barn, it looked like this:

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No concrete. No walls. No deck. There may not have even been rocks in the section of driveway out to the barn, meaning they had to walk through some mud.

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They didn’t blink. They trusted us. We never once received a panic message or call.

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Their day was beautiful — the stage of Fall where all the golds are out, and the deep russets and tangerine-like hues are still holding back, letting the filtered sunlight fall golden. They and their family and friends spent the day before and the day of setting up everything they had brought with them. It looked like magic.

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Head over to Junebug Weddings to see more!

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Photography: Amber Phinisee Photography, videography by her husband, Tyler  Dress: Daughters of Simone via The Sentimentalist  Florals: Luella Floral  Furniture: Heirlooms Vintage Rentals

Styled Shoot with our New Farm Tables!

We are soooo excited to say this: we built farm tables for our barn!

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And even more exciting, they are stepping out in style thanks to a photoshoot pulled together by Molly of Molly Nicole Details, flowers by Christy of MayFlowers, and photographed by adventure and elopement photographer Alyssa Smithley.

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Molly brought in chairs from Luma Designs to complement the aged gray tones of our tables, and created the beautiful setting. We adore her — she has such an eye for pulling together the unusual — we are in love with the copper flatware!

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Word among the Chattanooga wedding vendors has it that Christy is one of the BEST florists around — we have a wedding or two coming up with her, and we couldn’t be more excited. Aren’t these florals stunning?

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Want to see more? And maybe more images around our Cottage? Alyssa wrote up a blog post about the shoot and included gobs more beautiful photos than what you see here (this is a teaser, straight up).

Getting married? Contact us about our wedding packages! We are perfect for elopement and destination weddings, our Cottage sleeps 9 guests in style, we include shuttle service to and from our parking area (so our 28 forested acres feel like an exclusive park!), are on hand throughout your planning process and with you the day of — and now we have… TABLES!

More good things coming!

Cris & Dave

Revealing the Barn

Well, kinda revealing. It’s not finished — but considering where we started a few months back, the transformation is coming along well.

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We had a deadline that we never expected would be tight, but with all the rain this spring it took for-ev-ah to get dirt and rock up here. Also, due to our location, a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mostly by two people. Myself, and Dave. I’ve got some pretty cool muscles going after slinging a pickaxe so often. Who needs a gym, when you are remodeling a barn on the side of a mountain?

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Our deck is complete, save we will be changing out the farm-fence look to tension wire in the very near future. It’s 16×50, and feels outright amazing – like you are in the treetops. After we stain it in a couple of months we can add pots and some minor furnishings out here for our Cottage guests to relax on while watching the sunset. We’ll be leaving lots of room for morning yoga, which some recent guests found the deck to be perfect for.

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Inside, we are still working as well. The floor will get poured SOON, and we have some really cool details that will go into that. After that, we can install the lighting on the posts (and down the center), and we will be using reclaimed brick on the posts to give the barn a different, but solid, look.

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Our first event, a rehearsal dinner, went super well. Everyone loved it, and we loved watching how guests spilled out to explore the property and trails, some assisting newly walking kiddos who held on to their parent’s fingers — both for balance and to pull Mommy and Daddy everywhere. We were completely exhausted, but even through that were thrilled to see how people interacted in the space. It’s just as we dreamed.

bar area

We literally pulled our temporary bar together using the original lower stall doors about 2 hours before the event started. We were sooooo down to the wire. We’re happy it looks halfway decent, but looking forward to installing the original design with bar sinks and an undercabinet fridge. It will have a floating/locking island that can be used too, for greater versatility of space. But it dresses up nice.

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Early this week, we had a small group of people come through to have a look at our little construction project, so we set out a little wine and cheese. I loooove pulling greenery straight from the outdoors in decorating a space.

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Our tripod dog, Cookie, was completely worn out from playing host/official greeter and spent the majority of two hours right about here.

Work continues out here — this week, Dave has been installing the beams and details on the ceilings on the sides of the barn. It has a steel structure, which is nice and sturdy but not terribly pretty. From here, it’s all cosmetics.

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We can’t wait to see what neat events will be in store for this place over the years, and have a number of great seminars and nature-related events in the works. Watch our events page or follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

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xoxo-

Cris & Dave

 

 

Deck and Barn Progress

The passage of time is a strange thing when you are working on a big project, because every day you see one more small thing finished or changed and it seems like progress takes forever, until you look at your photos from a week or two ago and realize how far you’ve come.

This was the MOAD less than two weeks ago (Mother of All Decks, which is what we are jokingly calling the massive deck we are building off the barn’s stall doors). Dave and I now have added the beginnings of stairs, considerably more posts, cross bracing and more cross bracing, and the board aprons.

When the Cottage isn’t rented, we like to take advantage of the kitchen and create a picnic lunch somewhere on the property. We have a slight tendency toward workaholicism, and it’s good for us to occasionally stop and enjoy this place we love so much, but work so hard on. The grapes left by the last guest made a welcome addition to our Eggplant Parmigiana.

  We don’t stop long, but it’s fun to swing our feet under us like little kids and talk about next steps or things we are looking forward to. How we will string lights in the trees, the view from the deck in winter, what kind of furniture we should have out here most of the time, the workshops we’d love to host. Before long, guests will be able to lunch (or dinner, or breakfast, or coffee) out here — and they won’t have to balance on a 2×12 to do it, either.

Last week, I laid new gravel in front of the barn. With so many loads of dirt being brought in, plus all the rain, the drive in front of the barn was terribly rough. I spent a day in the mud, trying to shovel the ruts out and get it level again, and the next two days spreading gravel — but it looks much improved and was the first step toward something looking better, rather than worse, as construction often does.

Around the same time, Dave poured the last section of footer and sill in the barn — we had to leave the back doors open while shuttling in all the dirt for the Barn Lawn (raising the ground level back up by about 5 feet from where it had been dug out during the barn’s build some years ago). This end of the barn was 32″ lower than the other, which also necessitated a lot of dirt/fill being needed in the barn.

The interior of the barn now has the start of the electrical rough-in, we spread gravel throughout, and I spent Saturday removing the original oak boards and the thin insulation behind them (seen in the sill photo above). The oak will go back up after the new insulation is installed next week, and we are saving the old insulation for the goat shed we will build this winter. None of this is particularly picture-worthy and we both hate showing something that isn’t perfect — so note, you don’t see much of the walls in the below picture (if you follow us on Instagram, you may notice I don’t post pictures of the barn or construction, but I do show it in the Stories.)

Also — oh HAPPY DAY! — I finally found reclaimed windows to replace the existing vinyl windows (and in two places, we are adding windows). We were beginning to think we might have to cobble several windows together, as the opening size is rather unusual and generally custom order — but this guy had the precise size we needed, and the exact number! We will be cutting the window openings taller to make room for them, and we are both excited to see more natural light coming in to the barn interior.

We will have more natural light coming in from the other side as well, as we are taking the original stall doors that led to the outside (and now lead to the deck!) and changing them to look a little like this:

It feels so good to be finished with the “deconstruction” phase and start seeing progress toward the place looking better. Hope you are having an amazing summer so far!

Cris & Dave