It is amazing to see the many options that a bride of today has versus the bride of thirty years ago.  Options in all areas such as what sort of facility (yes - like a barn!) to what sort of food to provide to what her bridal party wears to whether she even has a wedding cake or not.  This same flexibility goes also to her Sign-In options.  We love seeing the different ideas that are brought here to the farm plus there are many ideas on pinterest too.  The Barn at High Point Farms has a pinterest page where many of these have been pinned for your convenience.  With our unique selection of various vintage or barnwood tables - your cute presentation of whatever you decide can be carried off in country farm style.  Usually our haywagon is selected as an All-In-One Sign In/Gift Table display but again - your choices here are almost endless.
   Let me run through a few of my favorites here....and as always.....let this day reflect YOU, the bride - and of course your groom. 

   First up is one that we saw recently where they used Jinga game block pieces and permanent markers as sign in.  What a cute idea!  Personalized messages on a game that you will have and enjoy for years to come.
   Next is a slight take off to this idea.  Instead of the Jinga pieces - this bride has ordered wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces for sign in.  A color or a picture could easily be on one side with the signatures and messages on the non-painted side.
   Photo Books are still very popular and makes for a great keep-sake....allowing people to write on all/any of the pages so it feels like a Year Book sign in. 
   As shown here to the right, a photo canvas is an idea too.  This photo canvas was very artfully done (from Etsy) but you could see how this would be awesome hung up in their first home for years to come.
    Wooden letters are easy to obtain now from Hobby Lobby and Etsy - so a sign in like the one here (left) becomes a great wall hanging later.
   This tree sign-in looks awesome.  Likely something that could be located on Etsy - as all things grand can be found.  This appears to be small individual wood pieces that are either in place and signed - or set to the side to be individually signed and then glued in later.  Again - great presentation and would be a great keepsake for years to come.  Anything rather than a straight sign in book like what used to be traditional....to sit in a box stashed away and only occasionally looked at.  This becomes priceless and art - all in one.
   I slight take off to the above idea, is the finger imprint idea - either on a canvas or as shown here - on a large wooden slab.  This seems to be a fun process for most guests - it does take a bit more time for your guests to work through the line with this sort of option (i.e. reading the instructions, picking a color, stamping, and clean up)....but still a great idea.
   As with most decisions, it is a good idea to figure out if any one of these fits you - your interest - your personality - your hobbies.  We have seen fabric squares set out with various colors of permanent markers for a message/sign in so that a quilt can be made later for the couple.  If you have somebody in your close network who sews - this again would be a great keepsake.  One of our brides was an art hobbyist of sorts. Everyone who knew her was familiar with her decorating talents and overall artistic abilities so when she brought this one of a kind painted canvas for her guests to sign in with - it was so fitting and unique.
   Still interested in more ideas?  Let me  keep going.  These next few ideas follow the same theme.  These are "well-wishes" that will double dose as both a sweet gesture as well as a sign in.
   "A message in a bottle" let's your guests write down a sweet note or even some advice, roll it up, and drop it in a jar or in a "well-wishes bucket."
    With more and more brides opting for just money either due to their guests coming from far and wide and the logistics of bringing packages not being feasible....or whether they are more interested in collecting money for a "honeymoon fund"...we see where you can set a cute jug to collect the money....or the vintage luggage ideas to collect the cards/checks.  When this is done - a cute sign in to go along with that theme is to find a vintage globe and have your guests sign in on the globe...maybe even suggesting places around the globe that you should select for your honeymoon. We had one wedding where many of the guests had come from far and wide to attend the wedding - so they were instructed to sign in "where they were from" so the globe was dotted all over with signature and arrows.
And if you can actually locate a typewriter (and tape) that works, leaving a message or a "Great Headliner" is a fun activity.
    I really love this idea (below) where you would actually combine a photo shot of your guests as they hold up a chalkboard sign with a personalized message.  I can see this stretching the bounds of humor but it would make for a hilarious photo journal to view later.
   One of the best ideas which would mean a fair amount of planning ahead of time is the table sign in below.  When I say "table", I mean just that....signing-in "onto" the table.  In the picture below - it has already been painted a bit with a heart and names of the bride/groom and maybe the date....and then signatures and well-wishes are marked all over the top of the table.....later to be covered with a bit of shellack to protect it.
   Finally - there is always - always - the option of no sign-in at all.....but - oh so sad to miss a wonderful opportunity to record those family and friends who took out from their time to come to the farm and celebrate with you this most special of all days.
   I hope this inspires some ideas and if you have any more of them - please include them below as a "comment".....I know you all are reading my blogs but to comment is sweet music to my ears....and sharing these with our brides is so very helpful for them.
   With sweet goat kisses from the farm to you..........Margie
vintage farmhouse, vintage wedding, barn weddings, farm weddings, old farmhouse
  The old vintage farmhouse has always been an integral part of our farm venue. It sets the stage for being a farm where people live and a way of life began. The farmhouse which was built before the Civil War not only shows off an era that we now refer to as "vintage" but it demonstrates that "there are good things that do endure the test of time." It helps bring together the feelings of timeless beauty and adds the ambiance of a family homestead.

   Giving the front room to our brides was an early decision that we made knowing how important it was that a bride could have a nice place to prepare.  We often state that "brides love to get married in a barn but that don't want to get dressed in a barn."  My daughter, Jill, and her family made the sacrifice to give up some of their privacy and allowed our brides to take over the front room of the farmhouse.   This not only gave our brides a place to dress but a way to stay separated from the groom that day if they wished. Little did we know that our wonderful photographers would capture the most amazing photos in and around the farmhouse. We have enjoyed seeing the different ways that the farmhouse has added to the galleries.
   Most of the farmhouse is original.  During our gentle and prolonged restoration process, we tried to save every viable board and feature whenever possible.  If you look on the underside of the porch ceiling, you will see a very distressed but exotic shade of turquoise that is common to see in very old farmhouses. They say that shade of blue helps to deter bugs.  Who knew?....we kept it because we loved the unusual coloring.  We have added decor here and there and much of it has more meaning than you would imagine. There is an old barber's chair that sits on the porch. This belonged to my grandfather when he was a barber in the James Building in  downtown Chattanooga oodles of years ago. When he closed up shop, they kept several items and we think of "Papa" whenever we see it.  Jill refurbished the seat on it and it too makes for some grand photos.  Even the white picnic table that sets on the sidelines is a picnic table that my parents purchased when they first got married (early 50's). 
    Last year, we added a restroom so that our brides could have their own (and Jill's family could actually retain their bathroom without interruption).  This made more convenience for everybody.  We added it on but kept the style in theme so that most people have no clue that it isn't part of the original house.  Tongue and groove boards painted in a distressed turquoise matched up with an old dresser turned sink and some vintage hand towels - well, it made for a nice addition.  Who knew that it too would be used in photographs.
   The Bridal Prep room is more than a room.  We have it also decorated in theme to give a very classy but vintage flair to things.  It is, admittedly, an interesting mix.  Their are splashes of intense colors everywhere - to make a vivid backdrop to photographic wedding dresses. We have some old vintage chairs which came again from my grandparents (pre-Depression era) where they set up house and obtained a couch and a "his and hers" chair. These have been in my mother's home until we confiscated them for our bride room. We took a third chair and had it reupholstered into mis-match of fabrics and I love it. Anyway...the room is so inviting and makes getting dressed in such a place even more exciting - if possible.
   New changes are now coming to the farm and this will open up some new options for our brides.  Jill and her family will be moving out of the farmhouse in early fall and will be living up on the knoll above the farm in a cabin built by my brother.  This will now provide an  Add-On option for our brides to rent the rest of the main floor of the farmhouse for a more convenient upgrade.  The additional rooms include a large great-room living/kitchen area and a full bathroom.  This great room has updated kitchen appliances set in a vintage era cabinetry.  In-between the rooms is a large brick fireplace that is a focal point of the room.  The bathroom has an old cast iron tub (with shower capabilities) along with a cute dresser-vanity.
   This Add On may be considered for the bride who has a large wedding party and needs more room for her girls to prepare in.  It also allows a nice comfortable place for the parents and grandparents to lounge in prior to the ceremony.  It is also an option for the do-it-yourself family who wants to come early to decorate then will find it convenient to take a shower prior to re-dressing.  Some brides have shown interest in having an early bridal luncheon of sorts utilizing the kitchen.  The farmhouse will not be used currently for lodging (overnight) but with the other added benefits - it will again give some desirable features worth considering.
    If you are interested in this option - it will likely be available sometime this fall for any of those current 2014 brides who may want to inquire about it.  We are currently in the process of creating some guidelines for its usage, but feel free to check in with Jill if you are interested in it. 
   This also would be a good time to mention another change.  Many of you had followed our purchase and renovation of the Bluebird Cottage which we were intending to use as a guest lodging option.   We did have a crazy but fun time restoring  the home and prepping for a pinterest-inspired guest lodging for our brides.  We soon realized that the Bluebird Project fell into the category of "A Great Idea but Bad Timing."  Basically, having a guest lodging facility is a great idea and the Bluebird exceeded our expectations but the timing just wasn't what it needed to be. With Jill and her family moving and my  elderly mother needing more attention - we felt a bit stretched at the newly acquired upkeep and maintenance that would be required for such a venture.  Our weddings and our brides are our first priority and until we get to the point of hiring on extra staff - we felt like we would be over-extending ourselves to keep up the cottage while also preparing for our weddings here at the farm.  So we are in the process of selling our cottage and we will revisit this idea hopefully sometime down the pike when different circumstances play out.
   Back to the Farmhouse Rental Add-On....the two choices that we will provide are: 1. Add the "rest of the day" time option which allows you access to the venue from 8 a.m. thru 11:30 p.m. and this will also include the use of the farmhouse (both the Bridal Prep Room as well as the full downstairs of the rest of the farmhouse) - limiting the use of the farmhouse  until 8 p.m.  ($800)  or   2. If you do not need the extra time but still would like the expanded facility use of the farmhouse, then you may add the use of the farmhouse from your original start time through 8 p.m. ($300).
   We will add some pictures at some point but for now - it is something for you to ponder.  I hope our faithful fans enjoy the evolving changes that come to the farm and our venue.  We started with such a humble barn and have continued to reinvest and improve our facilities t0 provide more and more options for our wonderful brides.   Life is a crazy ride sometimes with twists and turns but we try to learn to enjoy the journey.                Margie
   One of the exciting and advantageous features about our farm venue is that we allow our brides to set up their ceremony and reception however they envision it.  Just when we think we have seen it all, another great idea is revealed and another feasible option has been established.  It is wonderful from our angle to see how each of our weddings creates a different flair from the next one which is how a wedding should be - a reflection of the bride and groom and just how they would want it.    

   The bride above, Hannah, choice a favorite spot but she brought in a specialty crafted large wooden cross.  It was stunning and it meant so much to her to have the cross set as her backdrop for her ceremony.  
    Most of our brides pick "the lawn" as their ceremony site partly due to the beautiful scenic views that are in the backdrop - that as well as having the animals in the pasture showing up in their photos.  Some aim towards the knoll and some aim towards the valley. 
    Jennifer picked a unique angle - towards the High Point Farm gate sign.  It provided a nice long walk from the barn down the aisle - allowing the bride to relish every moment of the ceremony.  The sun at their backs and the trees overhead made this a beautiful new option.
   One of the reasons to select "the lawn" as the ceremony site is that it makes for such a grand exit from the barn and entrance to the ceremony when coming out of the large tin doors and flowing curtains.  What a gorgeous and picturesque photo op - it is hard to deny this.
   Some of our brides have found a way to get the ambiance of the grove and the grand entrance of coming onto the lawn by having their ceremony tucked up under the grove trees but having their guests seating on the lawn aiming at the grove trees. 
   Then there is the grove.  Intimate and much more cozy and rustic.
   But even the grove has versatility.  Though the above location is the favorite -  hanging lanterns or frames or swathes of material from the trees, other brides envision a different look amongst the trees - letting the tree be a focal point.
   Then consider the indoor "barn weddings" that take place and a few out in the hayfield with the peak of High Point - Lookout Mountain over-shadowing you - it really does allow our brides and all of these weddings to take on their own individuality. 
   So BRIDES - as you plan your grand day - think outside the box - dare to be yourself - let yourself this day be however you envision it.

   Till next time - Margie
   A renovations novel was never my intentions.  Our winter projects took on a life of their own and they have consumed all of our available moments for months now. We are finally on the home-stretch.  Our first wedding is April 4th - just over a month away...5 weeks to be exact and we are on schedule.
   Our best photos will come as our spring weddings approach and our amazing photographers will capture each bit of detail that we have so painstakingly created.  It is evident that my talent is not photography as I sift through my cell phone snapshots for this blog but hopefully you will get a glimpse of our efforts and see the metamorphosis come to life over this next month and beyond.
   The Dance Hall is a 30 foot x 36 foot addition onto the existing barn. It has windows on all sides.  We have collected old barn wood from far and wide (it seems) for it was important to have the authenticity of the old weather wood continue throughout our facility.  We hope that it blends in with the rest of the barn and though we have altered some of the layout of our garden area to make room for it - it has opened up opportunities to do some exciting things with this side of the garden too.

   The Dance Hall will be air conditioned (or heated as needed) which will make this a delightful addition for any of our summer weddings. Just having a room to refresh in will be a benefit.  With windows all along the inside wall - separating the Dance Hall from the main interior part of the barn - guests can have the option of sitting at their tables and watching the dancing while still able to have a conversation - but not foregoing their option of watching the activities in the next room.  The angle of the photo above  is looking north into what use to be the raised bed area but now is the new addition.  The large windows will let some look out and some look in.  The old galvanized horse trough will be over flowing with flowers.  A backdoor and ramp will provide an additional exit.  Plenty of lighting has been added too to allow plenty of outdoor mingling into the night time hours.
   We love our funky doors and we have added another beautiful weathered red door to our collection.  We are just now beginning to work on our landscaping.  These few warms days tempt us to put out all of our plantings but we will take it slowly as the frost can still be lethal.  We have peas popping their heads out already in the garden.  We have garlic already 6-8 inches tall.  Broccoli, lettuces, and cabbages are in the raised beds and loving this weather.  We have rosemary and lavender already up and bushy.  Blueberry bushes have been transplanted and all of them have buds ready to bloom soon.  March is planting time for so many things and we will utilize this time well.  Colors begin to take hold and the farm takes on its role quite nicely.
   We have added an old gate and official walkway so that guests can feel like they are welcomed "into" our garden.  On one side will be our blueberry bushes, garlic, rosemary and lavender and on the other side will be a trellis of sugar snap peas.  Guests will enjoy their stroll through the garden.  We have a bit more planned for this area too so you will be a bit more surprised when you come for your visit.
   The inside of the Dance Hall is almost completed.  One more day from the A/C company to complete the construction phase.  We have strung lights this week and we LOVE the new effect that it has.  Sorry for the photo that doesn't quite show it but it will dazzle you when you come.  We also created a neat chandelier.  I was inspired by the latest Footloose movie scene where they had a slew of mason jars hanging from the center of their barn...so with that inspiration - we took our own slant at it.....hanging from a large wooden wheel at the center of the wood beam.  The minilights come from the outside coming in towards the chandelier.  Again - the walls are wood planks...from floor to ceiling.  The floor is concrete and slick enough to boot scoot and boogie.  We have a few decor projects that we are working on which again - will be one of our few lingering surprises once you come visit.  This addition should make a wonderful large room for your DJ to have his speakers, give you and your friends plenty of room to dance, and allow some seating in the back - all while any non-dancers can watch the activities from the lawn or from the barn....and as we stated...you can dance the night away in comfort now!
   And...at night it shows the beauty of the lights twinkling inside.  I can't wait till our first wedding - it is almost time to boogie.  Now - where are my dancing shoes?
   Do you know what this is?  Any country folk reading my blog?  This is an old timey chicken feeder - before plastic.  Well - any idea what you can do with an old chicken feeder?  Take some of the parts out of it - drill a whole in the bottom of it - attach a pendant light - yep - create some really funky lights for our new bar.
   Yep - our new inside bar located across the way from the caterers  room.  Two great pendant lights hanging over a bar well suited for your bartender to be able to stash his tins of wine or kegs of beer - hiding some of that clutter - and giving a cute and rustic bar with two windows (other side) that can open when the Bar Is Open.  This still leaves the option for using the Pear Patio for drinks but maybe it will be best used for non-alcoholic drinks while leaving the bar to hide the clutter of the boxes of wine or tubs of ice.  Either way...it provides more options for our brides...and we love doing that!
   So for now this is the end of the sneak peak at our major renovations.  There are bits of other little projects that we have been working on - we have been busy bees all winter long - making improvements that we are hopeful that you will be delighted with.  Our faithful followers get the sneak previews first and we thank you whole-heartedly for being faithful...but I would love to hear from  you.  Please leave a comment and share our blog and our facebook page with your friends.  We are still a relatively unknown commodity and the networking media has a huge potential chain reaction for us.  We are a unique venue and not necessarily a perfect fit for all brides but we would love the opportunity to introduce ourselves to them so that they can have the option to choose us if they do love us.  We look forward to our 2014 weddings and hope to hear from many of you soon.  Take care and God bless.   Margie
     2014 begins year four for The Barn at High Point Farm - The Wedding Venue.  It has been an exciting, often surprising, and evolving three years. As we have moved forward, we see improvements that we would like to add and  reinvest in our property with a change. 
     One of our first major changes was converting a couple of our stalls into the Buffet Room.  It was a sensible idea to transform unused space into a food room but it did present some challenges. But - hanging a wall of miscellaneous windows on either end of the Buffet Room helped to jump-start the look.  Talking my husband into drilling holes into some antique store olive buckets to create some funky pendent lights was an interesting plea but he obliged like he does with so many of our odd requests.  The rest came together and we look back now and wonder how we hosted wedding without our Buffet Room.  

     Year two had us add the Foyer to the front of the barn.  This was a huge decision and expense but it was vital that I find a way to protect the inside of the barn from inclement weather.  I, of course, don't have the ability to control the weather for my brides but I wanted to make sure that they could still carry on no matter what the weather was.  The foyer not only provided doors to close in order to protect the barn but it added character inside and out.

     Adding our red trolly doors on the east side of the barn and creating a gravel loop was also a key addition.  This made for better access for vendors and guests as well as produced better flow and access into the barn..  Again - the doors added more than functionality but much character.  I do love my doors.

     Re-doing the lounge by adding a Family Restroom with a changing station and an extra toilet (handicapped accessible to boot) plus adding hot water to our farm sink made for some very appreciated improvements. 
     Adding a Caterer's Room in a stall also helped with the general logistics of the food presentation.  Caterers seem quite tickled to have tables and electricity.  Families are grateful that there are a couple of refrigerators plus the ability to tuck all of the mess of the food prep out of sight a bit.
     Adding an extension onto the barn towards the grove was also more of a logistic improvement making it easier for haybales to be stored close to the grove, making it easier for the music providers to have covered access to both the grove and the lawn, and even giving more space and "back door" options for our caterers.

     There were other changes over these years....to the farm and to the broader wedding venue;  Improving the grove so it could be a viable option for ceremonies, adding pathways and rock patios, improving the Groom's Room, and adding a restroom to the Bridal Preparation area.  As our previous blog has told, we added the Bluebird Cottage to help provide a solution to some of the requests that we have had.  To have an option for guest lodging, to have a nearby option for the bride/groom so they do not have to travel far after their wedding festivities, and to be an option for a large bridal party to have a more spacious place to prepare - all of these now have another option. As we improve - we are able to see the fruits of our labor and how they are being utilized and even appreciated.  We do aim to please.
     Now for this winter 2013/2014.  Winter is the only time we really have to do our projects but winter is also a very challenging time to get anything accomplished outside.  This year especially since the temps have regularly been frigid.  But....drum roll....we introduce our new addition - The Dance Hall.  It is only in stage one of completion but is beginning to take shape so I wanted to share the news with you.

     The Dance Hall is a 30 ft. x 36 ft. wing that is joined to the barn but will be closed in to be a heated/air-conditioned room to fit the needs of several purposes.  First - a great room for dancing.  On the wall that connects the original barn to the Dance Hall is a wall of windows so that those who remain in the main section of the barn can easily watch the festivities going on inside the dance hall.  One of our signature philosophies is the  open feel and the many doors of our barn so that the lines blur between in and out; that people don't feel like they are stuck in a closed barn but that the many doors (and windows now) help you see out to various areas - whether to the Pear Tree Patio or to the garden or to the pasture and now....to the Dance Hall.  It means that while you are dancing the night away - that you can do so now in comfort.  This also means that during the day - if Granny comes early - that there is a room that she (and others) could go into to keep comfortable. It is another indoor option for a rain scenario ceremony for those smaller weddings.  This also means that the Foyer now becomes the Stage.  The head table or the photo or cake tables can be on display better and prettier.  This also just gives more room for tables and chairs for those larger weddings.  There are just many pluses to new addition!  Can you begin to imagine the possibilities?
     The picture above shows Jill's oldest son, Tucker.  He helped me sweep and clean up the Dance Hall before our weekend tours.  The construction mess is continual but it felt good to sweep the floor.  He was a wonderful helper that day. I told him one day he will find it difficult to remember a day when we didn't have the Dance Hall.
     We have been collecting barn wood for quite sometime now so that the outside will be wearing old aged barn wood so that it blends with the rest of the barn - so it will look as though it has always been here.  There is still much to do.  Adding the barn wood siding on all sides, electrical, insulating, painting windows, adding the interior, creating a funky chandelier to hang, furnishing it with some seating, landscaping, lighting,  and such....so I will likely add some more photos later. We will have it completed prior to the beginning of our wedding season - so no fretting now!   But..if you are a 2014 bride....make plans to utilize this area and then it also gives you more options for the Foyer area.
     There is one more winter project that is up our proverbial sleeve.  It does not get the priority that this project does so until we launch it - I will hold off giving you any clues.  You will just have to put up with this teaser and wonder - imagine - what in the world are these girls up to?
     Till later - Margie
     As we journey down this path of being a family farm venue, we are always attentive to new thoughts - new ideas - solutions - options.  We ponder them and Jill and I always discuss them and must agree.  It is one of our cornerstone philosophies.  Two minds in agreement before we proceed.      We have considered the idea of Guest Lodging for a year or so and imagined how it might work and how we could achieve this.  Building a cabin on the edge of our property?....Maybe, but this might cross the line for us as we struggle to maintain our property as our home - as much as we can while we juggle the needs of our business.  Buying some adjoining property and building a guest house?  This alone is a daunting possibility burdened by much time and investment - but we have mulled this as a serious contender.
     So - when in late fall, one of our neighbors houses came up for sale as a foreclosure - we jumped at the chance to move forward with this new venture.  I say jumped and that was pretty much the proper verb for this. It came up quickly and we made an offer and it was ours. With all of its issues and challenges, it was ours to transform - and of course, that means a transformation on a strict budget and with as much creativity as we could muster.
     I admit, part of me hates to show the "before" pictures because they look awfully distressed. One can't help but think somebody out there is saying, "my goodness, what were you girls thinking?" but we both saw the possibilities, saw the strengths beneath the rubble, saw the challenges - yes, but envisioned some great ideas.  For those of you who have been keeping up with my blogs - this all feels somewhat reminiscent of our visions of the farmhouse....a diamond in the rough.

     A "diamond in the rough" did I say?  This is the description that was on the realtor ad for this foreclosure:  "A Little Diamond In The Rough. This Quaint Cottage Is Just Waiting On A New Owner To Come And Restore It To The Charmer That It Is Destined To Be. "  This home indeed was a cottage - cute design if you look at it.  Pretty detailing on the porch portico - lots of windows - shutters - a fireplace - and really a great lot of over an acre.  Built in 1937, it was certainly in need of updating and with it being a foreclosure - it was definitely in need of restoration and frankly - some rescuing. 
     The challenges:  1. Needs a new roof, 2. Mud Room is almost caving in, 3. Parking in the back which is a fair walk to the front, 4. Needs outdoor painting and curb appeal, 5. only wall heaters and a hole in the wall for an a/c unit,  6. Plaster wall cracks everywhere, 7. dark dated paneling all over the place, 8. Tiny and isolated kitchen, 9. Outdated and small bathroom, 10. Floors all need repaired or replacing, 11. Bedrooms need updating, 12. Door hardware had been stolen, 13.recent handicapped alterations were handicapping the house's appearance and traffic flow, and 14. surely there were needs of electrical and plumbing upgrades.  There is my dirty laundry list for this house.  Of course this also meant coming up with a plan "on a tight budget" and trying to think outside the box as much as possible to produce a "pinterest-inspried get-away" suitable for almost anyone. Was this going to be possible?
     The bathroom - oh, that was the worst part.  I swear, I think I could "almost" sit on the toilet and wash my hands at the same time - had I tried!  The flimsy sliding glass doors and crumbling tile were admittedly a stumbling block to my imagination at first.  Yet - we were determined to make it work.  So - we set forth with a slew of ideas and  possibilities - deconstruction and construction - wings and additions - porches and extensions - walls moved, kitchens expanded, and....and....and more.
     Once we began getting project price bids on our ideas - things came to a quick halt.  Yikes!  Let's go back to the drawing board, pick our fights; i.e. figure out what projects were most important and which ones had to be professionally handled.  Once we had that short list - the rest would just have to come from our own resourcefulness and imagination - somehow!

   First - stop the bleeding.  The Mud Room off to the side either had to be rescued or demolished. Our contractor, Woodward Enterprises (Steve Woodward) said the space was too valuable to get rid of - so a new roof and some structural "shoring-up" rescued the wing for future possibilities.  Our plans for this was to convert this room from a Mud Room to a Kitchen Pantry.  This suited the space much better and the odd exit to nowhere was virtually eliminated.  The door still in tack allows for an exodus of the garbage but the new purpose was a splendid idea.  I found a cute Victorian style old screen door - cut it to size - gave it a paint-do and now....it has presence!
     Before above and After Below
   The kitchen also presented some interesting challenges.  It was indeed a tiny space.  The various cabinetry was an array of mis-matched sizes and shapes of cabinets.  Mis-match can be a good thing but not in this case. Some cabinets went to the ceiling and some not. The counters were not the same height anywhere.   The ceiling tiles were broken and irreplaceable.  The floor (several various layers of vinyls) were surely secured in some sort of industrial quality glue yet somehow chipped and yellowing.  The plaster walls were cracked. The plumbing was likely original.  This would require a full gutting of the room.  Away with most of the plaster, old plumbing, old electrical, and flooring.

     One of my most exciting "ah-ha moments" on this project came with the kitchen.  With new sheetrock on the walls - things quickly went from drab to clean and fresh quickly.  My contractor, Steve, asked what to do about the ceiling tiles.  A few of my million trips to Lowes confirmed that there were no ceiling tiles similar to the one's that were currently on there.  With the cabinetry removed - it left huge gaps needing to be filled.  What to do - what to do?  As I surveyed my storage room of rescued boards, baseboards and trim pieces, and such - I looked at this huge stash of plaster wall furring strips that had come out of the walls and scraped clean of the plaster.  These furring strips are cheap rough-cut pieces of thin wood used to help support the plaster on the walls.  I began to imagine how I could possibly use this bounty of resources that I had for the ceiling wall need that confronted me.  The idea came to me and I began to paint.  Everybody thought I was crazy and far-fetched ideas don't always pan out as wonderfully in real life as they are imagined in your mind....but this began to take shape and it truly was one of my most proud achievements with the house makeover project.
     I used a short list of various colors from my pallet of shades that we planned to use in the house. The Bluebird Cottage obviously means we are using some blues but one of our colors is that turquoise type blue that looks sometimes green and sometimes blue.  I more or less dry painted a ton of these furring strips in these various shades.  Let me also say that I spent oodles of hours removing all of the many mini-nails from each furring strip before I set off to my painting tasks but the hard work paid off.  I can still see the look on Steve's face when I explained to him what I wanted him to do with these strips.  "Use your nail gun and in random orders - just begin nailing up the strips so that the colors are fully mixed."  As crazy as they all thought I was, it was in a matter of minutes before I had a room full of true believers.  It is indeed funky but I love it.
     Next we found an old timey farmhouse cast iron sink, hand crafted a stand for it from a couple of old Victorian style porch posts, painted the room a bright fresh color, made some simple cabinets, new counter top, and new appliances.
     This room was fun to decorate.  A couple of old sconces from Ebay added the vintage touch to the lighting.  Jill sewed our curtains made from our stash of vintage handkerchiefs and kitchen towels which adds again to our old vintage/retro feel. We made a rag curtain for our farmhouse sink.  One of my best "finds" were these huge red signage letters (found at Joy's United Gift Shop in Ringgold) that spell out "EAT" that we placed on the wall.  We added a plate rack and some of my old cute vintage dishes and the room just came together beautifully.  We also cut a hole in the wall above the stove to open up the area and visibility to the "Great Room" so it would feel more open and inclusive....I love the way it turned out.
    Next "must have" room make-overs was the bathroom.  I can deal with one bathroom but it has to be updated, cuter, and a bit larger.  So - we robbed a bit of space from an adjoining closet and gave it the bathroom space.  This made all the difference in the world.  Again....almost a full gutting of the room initially but in the end - many repurposing uses for much of what we tore out.
     The varnished wood pieces from the old bathroom wall were salvaged and placed on the ceiling in tongue-and-groove fashion. Then primed and funky-painted and distressed a bit and created a flurry of vintage color above.  The old cast iron tub was salvaged, cleaned, and re-used.  The old distressed window was revived and even allowed to keep some of its distressing to go along with the new tiles that we put on the floor and tub areas.  An antiqiue-store find of this old dresser was painted turquoise and converted into the bathroom vanity.  A vessel sink was added to dress it up.  A chandelier was placed above the sink - and old mirror on the wall.  We kept the old doors and made due with their issues. We added a chalkboard sign area on this bathroom door to welcome our guests with a friendly sign. Added an adorable shower curtain from Anthropologie to match our color scheme...an antique medicine cabinet was added to the wall for decor...and again.....the room transformed before our very eyes. 
     While much of the inside was being destructed then constructed - the outside was getting a new roof, a new front door, a new heating and air system, new porch railings, and a new color on the house and front doors.  How about a deep rich gray with nice white clean trim and a turquoise front door for a noticeable curb appeal?
     The hall seemed like such an insignificant space but the paneling just made the area look dark. The plaster ceiling was all cracked overhead but my budget was bleeding from the gut at this point so tearing out the walls and ceiling were not an option.  Repurposing to the rescue!  We painted the paneling walls and we used some old roof tins from one of our barn projects - cut them into small strips - and nailed them up to cover up the plaster ceiling.  I love the look.....I wish I had enough of that old ripply tin to have done a huge room.
     Bedrooms were going to be transformed so to create a certain mood.  The first bedroom was more or less just a work in progress.  I was determined to paint the paneling but didn't want just a regular paint job....so begin an evolution from traditional paneling to a gray weather barnwood effect.  Primer and some paint and faux glaze and some fun mixed together slowly changed the room.  Using one of the kitchen cabinet bases - painting it a funky but distressed turquoise - ripping off the vinyl countertop and painting it - add a thrift store mirror find...well - that produced a dresser area for any guest to prep by.
We have some interesting ideas how to create a "faux headboard" pinterest style...so there are bits of extras to be done here and there.
     Second bedroom again needed a good paint job and some decorating vision.  We went with a brown "nest" color - Jill again created some beautiful country cottage curtains - we found a great quilt like duvet on ebay - added some country decor with old rewired lamp stand, an old vintage seat tapestry for the wall, some cute pillows and such....and it looks totally new. (Items from Joy's United Gift Shop, The Green Door Trading Company, and Sugar Plum Antiques).  The house had some original oak wood flooring - yes they had been abused - but a good sanding and refinishing - they are like new....for both bedrooms, hall, and great room.
     The last of the room transformation was a pivotal change. This was the Great Room. What once had a handicapped side entry door aside the fireplace wall....and on the other side - a hole in the wall for an a/c unit - virtually gutting this one end and closing it up changed the look and flow of the room.
     Paint the walls a colonial blue.  It was amazing how the drab dark paneled walls came alive with a few coats of paint.  The large room has two double sets of windows giving it plenty of light. The white trim adds a crispness to the color hue.  We salvaged a very old wooden log from a Blacksmith Shop on Garrett's Chapel Road in Chickamauga - and made a fireplace mantel out of it.  We rid ourselves of the outdated ceiling fans and added a vintage ceiling light in the living room (ebay) and did a make-over on one of our lamps for the dining area (striped it up a bit to pull in the same theme as the kitchen ceiling boards).  I also added the same effect on some wooden chairs for the dining area.  I refurnished an old pale farmhouse table that we found at a local estate sale.  It turned out stunning - what some staining effect, polyurethane, and some dark wax can do to a table!
    Find some Craig's List outdated lamps pretty cheap - give those a makeover with white paint and some dark wax - producing a two tone vintage lamp that has a doily effect.  Found 3 tables for $89 and re-painting them with my distressed white effect.  Added the retro couch/chair with our "Jetson" chairs (looks like they came straight out of the cartoon - but man, are they comfortable!)....and this room begins to come together as well. The TV on the mantel fits nicely is easily seen by a room full of guests.  I found a great cupboard and painted it just the right color....added some decor and vintage kitchen pieces to pull this retro/vintage look together...and well.....it is almost completely done. 
     We did put in an extended driveway "loop" around the Magnolia tree so that it  drops the guests off at the rock sidewalk that we have added.  We are still working on the landscaping outside.  With the winter months here - this part will slowly improve as we wait for pretty days here and there to make changes.
   So - some quick side by  side comparisons.....if nothing else is said - good or bad - I can with confidence say that this home has improved with our ownership - that alone is a good thing.
     We still have some finishing touches - some decor to add here and there - some landscaping to complete....a bit of painting on the porch.  But we are ready to have our unofficial Open House and to begin to allow guests to rent  the Bluebird Cottage.
     We have had brides interested in it already so they can rent it when they come into town for their planning session.  We have brides who want to use it for any of their family or guests lodging the night of the wedding.  We even have some who are interested in having it for the bridal party preparation area.  If you have a large group of girls in your wedding party - it gives you much more room and a nice space - with the kitchen and dining areas - to do your preparation.  Many choices for sure.  So if you are interested in booking the Bluebird Cottage - just email us or contact Jill.  If you are interested in popping by for our unofficial Open House - email us for the time.
     As for the next blog - we are actually going to continue this series again one more time (maybe even two).  We have an exciting winter project at the barn that we have begun that we will want to share with you as it starts taking shape.  Do I tempt you with any tidbit of information about the project?   Hmmmmmmmm?  Maybe so.  Our project is being called The Dance Hall.  Stay tuned.
   There have been many changes to the farm over these many, many years.  The broader history of the farm is that indeed it was a working farm - bought and lost by many farmers over the years.  Cotton, sorghum, corn, Irish potatoes, and cattle were the more common products of the farmers here.  But most were self-sufficient farmers as well which meant that they grew a good size garden, had chickens and turkeys, a milk cow, and pigs (plenty of acorns for those pigs with all of the oak trees that we have). But - the same "high point of Lookout Mountain" that helps our farm avoid some of the rains for our weddings is the same mountain peak that likely kept many of those rain patterns from watering the crops.  I suspect that it made an additional challenge for any farmer to make a living off of the farm.

   This is the oldest picture that I have of the farm. This photo is of the Buckner couple who had the farm in their early years, as shown, and lived their till their death - actually. This photo is taken in front of the farmhouse but you can see that there is a no frill approach to the property but considering that this was not long after the depression - it is quite understandable. 
      We do know that they owned a good size herd of cattle and the barn was adapted to handle them with many wood slats in order for the cattle to stick their heads through so they could be fed in the barn.  The pole barn design was ideal for bringing haywagons full of hay into the barn to stack into the hayloft.  

        The above photo is again, of Mr. Buckner (much older in this photo) which is herd of beef cattle. My dad did own a couple of cows throughout the years but they were a pain in the side to keep contained. The pasture was always greener on the other side according to our cows so my early memories of having cows were always associated with trying to retrieve and coax them back home.
  My parents posed for this "Green Acres" type photo shortly after they purchased the farm.  They spent many long hours on their new dream - the farm.  While they were working on housing  - I was a horse nut through and through and began my search for a horse.
   My interest was always horses and in my younger years they were filled with my two favorites - Chester Brown and Sam.. This is me in my late teens (with one of my nieces) on Chester Brown - a wild and cantankerous equine but still somehow he was dear to my heart.  As I married - and children came along - we ended up with a slew of horses plus animals of all sorts from cows to pigs to rabbits to sheep to chickens - even a pet emu and of course - goats.

   That said, it was our love of horses that prompted us to slowly convert the barn more to a horse barn than a cattle barn....and it evolved one stall at a time and spaced out over years. The barn slowly morphed from an open-air pole barn design into a closed horse barn design with two large trolley doors accessing the inside of the barn. The boards were slowly added along the outside of the barn closing it in.

      The Tack Room, a.k.a. The Lounge, actually had a restroom installed soon after my parents purchased the farm. My grandfather installed the restroom so that my parents would have access to a real toilet during their house building process.  The Tack Room was lined with many bridles and several rows of saddles.
      Beyond the barn changes - the surrounding areas changed too.  We had adjoining corrals, pig lots, round pens for training, gates going towards the creek and  gates towards the pasture, a parking area, vegetable gardens,chicken coop and run,  dog pen with chain link fencing, manure piles, mulch beds, burn areas, and more. .

   Fast forward to nine years ago as we began to transform the barn - short term - to a wedding reception area for Jill's wedding.  Animals were ousted, stalls mucked, boards power-washed, curtains made and hung, twinkle lights draped, the Tack room restroom renewed, signs made, and the list went on.
The barn was simply done but had hints of its current version even back then. It was cutting edge back then - not the first by any means but a rarity around here.  It was so "very Jill" and so it seems even more appropriate that she is part of its evolution to share this dream with other girls. 

   Fast forward again as we show a few of our project pictures as we transformed the barn into the venue it is today.
  Which brings us current to where we are today.  It has come together - evolved over time - and hopefully refined and improved along the way.  It is our artist canvas of sorts.   We picture what can be out of what we have and then figure out how to transform it.  Under the improvements is the essence of what was there in the beginning only better.
  This is the essence of the History of our Farm....and its transition from a struggling farm to a family hobby farm to a wedding farm venue.  I hope you were fascinated and maybe even amused at our long and interesting journey.  As we pick up soon with Part IV of Renovations of the Past and Renovations to Come - we will introduce you to the Bluebird Cottage and its transformation from a aged, neglected, abandoned, and out-dated house to a pinterest-inspired cozy cottage soon to be available for Guest Lodging.                    Good Night-Margie
  Shortly after Jill and John got married, they called me and asked "would it be okay if we lived in the old farmhouse?"  I admit I was surprised because the old house was far from appealing and it was a stretch to consider it "livable." Yet - their interest in coming to the farm to live was, of course, very appealing to us and so the answer was "of course, you can!"
  The wheels of change moved very slowly at first. Stabilizing the house was priority number one since it need some securing at the foundation - needed a chiropractor (of sorts) to level up some of the sagging joists, and a one-of-many trips to Lowe's for lumber and hardware.

  My husband, David, has had a lot of experience with building since he helped oversee the building of our own house and the subsequent repairs. Jill's husband, John, has been around some construction crews and brought energy and exuberance  to the equation.  Jill and I (plus family and friends on way too many occasions) helped with demolition, clean up, running to the store, organizing the mess, running to the dump, segregating the boards for future uses,cleaning and sanding - and more cleaning and sanding.  I swear there was 100 years worth of dust and squirrels nests packed into those walls.  My mother was the cook but considering that during this extended year long episode - Jill, John, and David all maintained jobs so it was a huge help to have my mother cook us supper so we can eat and crash each evening.
  We peeled layers after layers of wallpaper off of the walls and discovered beautiful boards hiding behind it all.  We salvaged any board, trim, or door that was feasibly possible.  But admittedly - what started out as a simple face-lift slowly began to morph into a full blown renovation.  Thankfully, that evolution played out slowly.  I am sure if we knew how complex and extensive the needs of this old house were from the beginning - we wouldn't have had the inclination to tackle them. But many things in life are that way and fortunately - as we sweated through each complicated task - we saw glimpses of the treasure that this farmhouse could become.
  Piece by piece, board by board, we took them off, figured out whether we could salvage them somehow. If we could - then they were set aside to be sanded. If not, then we replaced it. But our budget was very tight and so partly out of necessity and partly out of a desire to maintain the old timey feel of the farmhouse, we repurposed and reused as much as possible.  I think I sanded boards non-stop for about 3 months but the beauty of the farmhouse with those board walls has made it worth it. 
  After a couple of dozen drawings had been hashed over, a good floor plan was decided on by opening up a wall and creating a great-room effect. Adding a bathroom off the back kept the floor plan simple and the budget on track. Very little of the work was contracted out and for sure - we can relish the fact that this was a labor of love. All of Jill and John's sweat equity turned an old eye sore into a home and mine and David's contributions helped to facilitate a new beginning for the farm with an extended family unit. Jill was pregnant through much of this and the time clock was ticking to get to a "move-in-ready" stage before the arrival of baby number one.

  The house was deemed "livable" (though not finished) just in time for baby number one (Tucker) to arrive. We had promised everyone that we would have an Open House to show off our progress.  So many had helped and watched and encouraged us along our way that to finally be able to show our fruits of labor was a huge milestone.
  The renovations did not stop then. Anybody who has owned an old house can tell you that the projects never end. We like to think that we have made the old farmhouse young again - given her a new life to start a new generation with a new family. We do know that we have left her better than we found her. Let me show you a few side by side photos.
The farmhouse as we found her (in the mid-70's)  and the farmhouse last month.

Believe it or not - the photo on the left is John in the "now" Bridal room. The room had layers of linoleum on the floor and layers of that old-fashioned wallpaper that is more like cardboard glued to the wall and to the ceiling. Behind all of that gunk was original wood floors in fairly good shape and great board walls and ceiling - all just needed a good scrubbing and some layers of paint. (I say the word "just" lightly but in reality - this was weeks worth of effort.)
   The same room is pictured below. This photo was taken a few months ago. Huge change, huh?
  And of course, the saga continues. The farmhouse is a slew of projects inside and out. Jill has perfected repurposing and turned this old decrepid house not only into a home but into an attractive and quaint reflection of the past - bringing out the best of her features for many to love and admire.
  When part III begins, I will take a glance back at the farm and how it too has evolved over these many years.  Till next time - Margie
  We have recently made an announcement that High Point Farms has purchased one of our neighbor's houses and we are in the midst of converting it into future "guest lodging"; i.e The Bluebird Cottage.  We went from purchase, to planning its renovations, to some light demolition, to some reconstruction, and beginning to complete our phase one.  As I wait just a bit for our "reveal" photos, I thought it tmight be interesting to take a small journey back in time a bit - to show you where the farm has come from - prior to its makeover as well as the old farmhouse.  Now that we have 3 years under our belt, I feel like I can show the before and after pictures and tell a bit of the story.
   Let me start with the farmhouse.  The above picture is what the farmhouse looked like in the mid-70's when my parents first purchased the farm.  Their initial plan was to renovate and expand the farmhouse but after pulling off the back lean-to part of the rear of the house, they discovered some structural damages that were going to cause too much of a challenge - so they opted to build a new house instead.   Here are a few of those early farmhouse pictures - the one on the left shows the back of the farmhouse as it looked at the time of purchase. The photo on the right shows where the lean-to porch and bathroom coming off of the rear of the house had been removed revealing many of its structural issues.

  After my parents went to their Plan B, the farmhouse just "sat" for years.The back torn off area had been boarded up to "stop the bleeding."  It became more or less a storage building for old furniture and such. Even when I got married - we opted to build our own farmhouse on a far corner of the farm property. Again - years passed and the farmhouse continued to sit.  We would patch the farmhouse  roof, replace some doors, do what we could to keep the farmhouse standing - hoping that somehow, someday, we would have the resources to tackle something more significant.. 
  The farmhouse became a backdrop of the past. Some people would tell us " you need to just bulldoze down that old house!" while some would lament "you should restore that old house - it has history with so many various families from the valley." We always had hope that someday - we would be able to restore it....in the meantime, I was busy raising my kids and had plenty on my plate besides a major makeover of the farmhouse.
  Nine years ago, a twist of fate happened.  Jill (my daughter and partner in thiswedding venue) decided to get married here at the farm. She wanted to get married out in the hayfield under the shadow of Lookout Mountain - and she said we would have the reception in the barn. Back then - barn weddings were barely heard of. We were not the first but it was very uncommon and none near here that I am aware of.  With the wedding being held in the front field - we decided a little sprucing up of the farmhouse would be in order...and little did we know then that this would be the beginning of more than their marriage but the beginning of a huge change for our families and of the farm.
  More to come as the story continues with the transition of the barn - watch for Renovations of the Past and Renovations To Come -  Part II.
  The matron of the farm is my mother - kindly referred to as Mimi - by her grandchildren and now almost everybody.  It was my mother (and father) who purchased the farm many years ago. Her love of the farm is renowned by any of those who know her. Her bedroom faces High Point on the mountain and she draws such peace and comfort from this view.  She has the beauty of the clouds rolling in from the southwest and the awesome foliage of the ridges to the east. She is the mother hen who watches over the comings and goings of the barn activities. She has also lead by her example with opening up the farm over her many years to friends and family and to her church. She is quick to share a meal at her table with others or to share a pack of seeds from her flower garden to any new acquaintance. 
  My mother has been very supportive of our wedding business. We feel as though it has in some ways been an extension of the pattern set before us all these years as we have opened up our homes and the farm to many different groups over the years. We have had family reunions, class reunions, Easter Sun Rise Services, Annual Prairie Day outings for the whole fourth grade class, local widows come to harvest turnip greens, Annual Down on the Farm for a local church, Fall  Hoe-Down, Homecoming Week Preparations, Annual Rowing Club End of the Season Barn parties, Halloween Parties, Movie Night in the Barn, 4-H Horse Club Meetings, and the list goes on. My mother rarely meets a stranger and if she does - she doesn't allow them to be a stranger for long. Her hospitality is legendary and I aim to continue her legacy.
  My mother has always had a green thumb - she came by it naturally as her mother was a gardener 24-7. It is a passion that has been passed down both to me and to Jill as well but my mother, still today, works her garden daily.  I joke to others that my mother will be on her death-bed asking somebody to weed her flower bed until she returns. It is her joy and her creative passion that takes her back to her flower garden every day. There are stories to be told of half of the flowers and bushes growing around her yard.  Most of the flowers at the venue and at Jill's farmhouse came from seeds, cuttings, or transplants from "Mimi's" yard. She has helped to beautify the farm with year-around color from her Beauty-Berry bush, her rare spring Poppy flowers, an array of dazzling lilies,  a row of knock-Out roses, and a list that would be a hundred long if I could remember them all.

  Even now - I find it amazing how well she handles the realities of our farm weddings.  The flood of people that come each weekend, the late night beat of Gangnam Style echoing through the farm, brides posing for the camera in her front yard, touring brides coming by at inconvenient times, driveways being clogged with vehicles, and weekends that run  till midnight. Yet, she takes it all in strides and enjoys watching from her window.  She asks about each wedding and each bride. She watches the cars pull in. She waits for the bride to head towards the barn to get a glimpse of her in her wedding dress.  Even when I make a mad dash to her house in search of some odd necessity that is needed at the barn; a coffee filter, a punch bowl, some plastic forks, a cutting knife, etc...she graciously  rummages through her cabinets to help find it so I can dash out to the barn to rescue the day.  I have so often pilfered her china plates, her vintage napkins stash, and her bread baskets to fulfill my decorating duties...and she does so with pride knowing that she has contributing someway - somehow to the cause. She follows my blog, shares any new wedding FB photos with her friends, and looks forward to the next wedding.  I am blessed and fortunate to have her here on the farm and for her to be a part of this wild and crazy journey of the Barn at High Point Farms.  I offer this blog as a tribute to her - my mom.