by Elizabeth Cossick | Photos by Matt Druin
If a time-lapse camera had been set up outside the modest white farmhouse when it was first built in Acworth in the mid-1800’s, scenes like this would have flashed on-screen: men laying the original rock-and-log foundation, a family moving in, children playing, farm animals sauntering in and out of view, chickens pecking under the porch …. Then soldiers would appear on the hypothetical film, Civil War scenes, a Confederate wagon being pulled up under a tree and left there …. And then more families, children, automobiles. Finally, the activity would grown quiet, the children all grown, families gone, paint flaking — until 2016, when Steve and Denise Nunley purchased the home with the hopes of revival.
The years of disrepair were so toll-taking, however, that four contractors advised the Nunleys to abandon their restoration plans and tear it down. Thankfully, Steve and Denise ignored all four, rolled up their sleeves, and transformed this home into a modern farmhouse marvel.
“We loved the home’s history,” says Steve, a veteran renovator who owns Steeden Preferred Properties along with his wife, Denise, and son, Ethan. “We’ve been doing this long enough to know there was nothing about this house that couldn’t be fixed. The home’s foundation was amazing. The floor joists are hand hewn logs, and the foundation was stacked rocks. We did a lot of work to reinforce the foundation and bring it up to code, but nothing about it was broken. It’s been here for almost 200 years, and now we know it will be here for another 200.”
While the literal foundation was being reinforced, the home’s early stories also began surfacing during renovations. Civil War relics turned up in the yard, the walls, the barn. The Nunleys even received a visit from the grandson of the original owners, whose memories brought the home’s past into crisp focus. “He remembered playing in an old Civil War wagon in the yard. Sure enough, we dug and found all the wagon’s metal strappings,” says Steve. “He also told
us his mama used to send them upstairs to the attic with coffee cans when it rained, to catch drips from the old tin roof, we found all the coffee cans still up there! All those stories are what made this place worth saving.”
The Nunleys recruited a “dream team” of craftsmen and renovation pros to complete the overhaul, including Kathryn Harbour, a seasoned house flipper and Realtor with Keller Williams. Renovations lasted six months and expanded the two-bedroom, one-bath, 1000-square-foot house into an 1800-squarefoot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath beauty with an open-concept living area, modern kitchen and master suite.
Designer and home stager Rebecca Crawford of Heath Hill Design was brought in by Kathryn to help guide the modern-farmhouse aesthetic (think oversized subway tiles, herringbone marble, all-white walls). And, largely, Denise and Steve followed their own instincts. “We’ve always loved old things and old homes,” says Denise. “My personal decorating style is basically, if it looks like it came out of a barn, I like it. So, restoring this farmhouse was a passion for us.”
The finishing touch was a symbolic one: a swing hung from the centuries-old oak in the front yard. “This isn’t an abandoned structure anymore,” says Denise. “It’s a home, again, ready for many more generations.”
MODERN FARMHOUSE STYLE
To achieve the home’s appealing Joanna Gaines-esque feel, Denise Nunley worked with Rebecca Crawford of Heath Hill Design (shown here). To modernize the fireplace, the Nunleys repurposed an old beam as the mantle. Rebecca added books, sea glass bottles and a painting by area artist Laura Bowman, appropriately entitled Arisen. “We wanted to pay homage to the home’s origins,” says Rebecca, who stages all of Realtor Kathryn Harbour’s homes. “Balancing historical details with clean, contemporary lines keeps the design fresh.”
WHAT WAS KEPT
-Rock + log foundation
-Heart pine walls, floors + ceilings
-Fireplace bricks, used for new surround
-Original doors, siding + bricks were
repurposed in landscaping & design.
WHAT WAS ADDED
-Board and batten exterior siding
-New metal roof
-Windows + fiberglass doors
-New plumbing, electrical + HVAC
-Foundation brought up to code
-Master suite with modern bathroom
-Additional bedroom + half-bath
-All new kitchen
-Laundry room, mudroom, pantry
-Landscaping & irrigation
SOURCE | For info on property, call Kathryn Harbour 678-631-1700.