When interior designer Sherri Lackey’s husband Doug drove her out to see an old farmhouse in Thompson’s Station, just south of Nashville in Williamson County, that he was interested in purchasing and restoring, her initial response wasn’t what he was hoping for. No strangers to renovating historic homes (the couple had done three prior to this one), Sherri said she wasn’t sure they could make this one work.

“He was dead set on redoing this place, and I was more like, ‘How much does a bulldozer cost?’” Sherri remembers. “The house looked like hoarders had lived here. It had been vacant for 10 years or something, so it was in complete disrepair.”

This was what the farmhouse looked like when Doug Lackey first showed it to his wife, Sherri. It had been vacant for a decade and was in complete disrepair. Image: Doug & Sherri Lackey

A little more than two years later, the home is enjoying new life, with remnants of the past found throughout the amazing, completely renovated space.

A little more than two years later, the home enjoys new life, with remnants of the past found throughout the amazing, completely renovated space.

Doug and Sherri Lackey are pictured here in their newly renovated home in Thompson's Station, TN.

Doug and Sherri Lackey are pictured here in the main house at Briarwood Farm in Thompson’s Station, TN.

If these walls could talk: The before images illustrate the creativity and vision that was required to see the potential of this old farm house.

If these walls could talk: The before images illustrate the creativity and vision that was required to see the potential of this old farmhouse. Image: Doug & Sherri Lackey

Fast forward a little more than two years, and sitting in the home’s spectacular front room that is flanked by a stunning porch on one side and the original 8-by-9-foot hand-carved limestone fireplace on the other, you’d never know this amazing renovation started out like it did.

Thankfully, Doug’s keen real estate eye saw past the acres of overgrown brush and weeds and past the blue tarps covering the near-condemned home, because once the Lackeys did a little research on their new farmhouse, they uncovered quite a story. It was the home’s history that hooked Sherri.

“I have a love of history,” Sherri says. “I grew up in Franklin, Tennessee, and my mom taught Tennessee history in school there for 40 years, so it was ingrained in me from birth. I just have always loved it. So, when we buy and renovate an old home, we marry the concepts of farm and history together.”

She says Doug is always the risk taker in a Lackey family restoration project, and that she teeters between the voice of reason and the party pooper. “But if there is history involved, he knows that’s my hotspot, so once we learned the history of this home, I was all in,” Sherri shares.

The couple enlisted the help of Williamson County historian Rick Warwick, who did his homework and discovered the land was part of an original land grant from North Carolina. The home was built in 1815 by John Thompson. The town of Thompson’s Station, where the farm and home are located, was named after John’s son, Elijah Thompson. The home was gifted to John’s daughter Emily and her husband Dr. Samuel Fleming. Many of the family are buried on a beautiful hilltop on the property. “There is a family graveyard here, and the oldest grave is dated 1828,” Sherri says. “It is John Thompson’s daughter, Elizabeth.”

What started as virtually unusable acreage is now lovingly known as Briarwood Farm. But the transition from ugly duckling to swan was no easy feat. The Lackeys painstakingly took their time, employed artisans and sourced the perfect touches throughout the home. They estimate that over the two-year project more than 100 people worked on the home and the 90 acres of land it sits on. “The original home was three rooms with the attic sleeping area, which would have been a big house for that time,” Doug explains. “You can still see Roman numerals carved into the logs where they would cut down a tree on-site and number it so its correct placement in the house would be known. All the floor joists were trees from the land, and it was all held together with wooden pegs.”

The home was carefully renovated, with attention paid to the most minute detail to ensure the authenticity of the design. The result is an amazing house filled with elegance and intrigue.

The four-bedroom, three-bath home was carefully renovated, with attention paid to the most minute detail in order to ensure the authenticity of the design. The result is an amazing house filled with elegance and intrigue.

The family room is filled with warm, rich tones to create an inviting and cozy retreat.

The family room is filled with warm, rich tones to create an inviting and cozy retreat.

The kitchen offers a tremendous amount of space, storage and natural light.

The kitchen offers a tremendous amount of space, storage and natural light.

A gas stove is neatly tucked into a massive limestone structure that's original to the home.

A gas stove is neatly tucked into a massive limestone structure that’s original to the home.

Modern conveniences and tons of storage bring a refreshing update to the historic homestead.

Modern conveniences and tons of storage bring a refreshing update to the historic homestead.

Sitting areas create relaxing escapes — perfect for reading a book by a warm fire.

Various sitting areas create relaxing escapes — perfect for reading a book by a warm fire. Every piece of wood and architectural element that could be salvaged was, and was then reincorporated into the renovation.

Once the home was cleaned up and stripped back to its historic bones, the Lackeys met with architect Scott Wilson, who helped design a new floor plan that added modern-day conveniences without tarnishing the character or history of the home. “We wanted the house to be modern and functional, but keep the history,” Sherri says. “We didn’t want a modern farmhouse. We spent four months with him in the planning process before we broke ground.”

Although the Lackeys had to tear down sections of the original structure due to safety issues and weather damage, they saved every single plank of wood and architectural feature they possibly could and were able to reuse just about all of it in one way or another.

The beautifully imperfect ash wood planks that cover the ceilings in the master bedroom are from the kitchen floor that couldn’t be saved. The poplar beams that anchored the front corners of the home had spots that were rotten, but the Lackeys found a use for them as the main support for their bunk beds.

“Those beams in the bunk room are carved out of one tree, not two beams fastened together, so we knew we wanted to find a way to repurpose those,” Sherri says.

The ash wood planks on the ceiling are actually the old kitchen floor. Thoughtful reuse ideas are found throughout Briarwood Farm.

The ash wood planks on the ceiling are actually the old kitchen floor. Thoughtful reuse ideas are found throughout Briarwood Farm.

The clawfoot tub gives a nod to the past, while the sleek glass-enclosed shower is the most modern of amenities.

The clawfoot tub in the master bath gives a nod to the past, while the sleek glass-enclosed shower is the most modern of amenities.

The papered walls and marble-top vanities are the epitome of approachable elegance.

The poplar beams used in the bunk bed construction were repurposed, originally used as the support beams of the front of the home.

The age of the wood is evident, but its hardiness is undeniable.

The age of the wood is evident, but its hardiness is undeniable.

There's no shortage of sleeping spaces, as shown in this room.

There’s no shortage of sleeping spaces, as shown in this room.

In the dining room, which still has its original ash flooring, the Lackeys were able to save the home’s original trap door leading down to the cellar. This would have been the door the home’s servants used to access the main house from the cellar, which had a six-foot clearance and a working fireplace. “We feel like the Thompsons had to have had a good relationship with their servants because not only did they have full access to the home, they are buried in the graveyard with the Thompson and Fleming families,” Sherri says. “Historically slaves and servants would have been buried in their own graveyard, but these families were laid to rest together.”

The dining room floor still houses the door that leads to the cellar, where the servants lived during the home's first iteration.

The dining room floor still houses the trapdoor that provided access to the home for servants.

This historical element pays respect to the home's past while blending it beautiful in with its present.

This historical element pays respect to the home’s past while blending in beautifully with its present.

Through the bookcase opening, you can see into the dining room. The various nooks and crannies add to the home's historic intrigue.

Through the bookcase opening, you can see into the dining room. The various nooks and crannies add to the home’s historic intrigue.

Fanciful touches, like this sliding ladder, are like eye candy … we just can’t get enough!

Through the discreet stairwell, you can see hints of the second story.

Years-old beams peek out from behind shelving.

Years-old beams peek out from behind shelving.

Other materials that weren’t available from the original home still bring history with them, such as the brick used on the home and back patio, which is from an early 1900s home that was demolished in Nashville. The wrought iron gate that grants access to the patio is from the original Belle Meade Mansion. The fencing around it was sourced from a 19th century historic church. The log panels in the home’s front room came from an 1800s smokehouse in Pleasantville, TN.

Oddly enough, Sherri says many of the items in this home, from the gate to many of the furniture pieces, she found on the wildly popular Buy, Sell, Trade social media sites. “I didn’t want to spend a fortune on things, but I did want quality stuff, and I was able to find a lot of great things online,” she shares.

The outside porch, complete with reclaimed bricks, is perfect for an al fresco meal or for watching the game.

The outside porch, complete with reclaimed bricks, is perfect for an al fresco meal or for watching TV.

The unmarred view makes it easy to imagine the peace that came with nightfall back when the Thompsons lived on this land.

The unmarred view makes it easy to imagine the peace that comes with nightfall.

The wrought iron fencing separating the brick patio from the yard was from the Belle Meade Mansion.

The wrought iron fencing was sourced from an old 19th century historic church.

In addition to the main house, the Lackeys lovingly restored the land as well, by clearing the brush, re-seeding and building a pond, which is something Doug has always wanted. The original dairy barn is now a workshop and garage. The Lackeys added a barn/entertainment space, and Doug purchased, dismantled and reassembled the log cabin that sits a few steps away from the main house.

“As we put this all together, we thought, ‘This is something we want to share with other people,’” Sherri says, and that’s just what they have done. The Lackeys are considering using the property as a possible wedding venue. Until then, it’s listed on VRBO.com.

The barn is newly constructed and is an ideal entertainment space.

The barn is newly constructed and is an ideal entertainment space.

Inside the barn, you’ll find plenty of space — and a basketball goal!

Doug purchased, dismantled and reassembled this log cabin, which sits not far from the main house.

Doug purchased, dismantled and reassembled this log cabin, which sits not far from the main house.

Sherri and Doug added the pond to the property — it was something Doug had always wanted.

Sherri and Doug added the pond to the property — it was something Doug had always wanted.

Sherri adds that the ultimate end use for the home and farm has varied throughout the process. Having renovated historic properties in the past, the couple has always felt these beautiful homes didn’t really belong to them, but they were more something they were caretakers of at the time. And, as Briarwood Farm enjoys new life, we’d say that responsibility was perfectly executed.

All photography unless otherwise noted is by Showcase Photographers.

RESOURCES:

Architect: Scott Wilson
Interior design: Sherri Lackey
Photography: Showcase Photographers

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