Gary & Karen Braden’s Tennessee Christmas

When you pull down the wooded gravel driveway that leads to the Braden home, you have no idea of the little slice of paradise that awaits you.  Three years ago, Gary and Karen Braden purchased their lovely 6+ acre lot and farmhouse and dove straight into the process of making it their dream home, or in this case, homestead.

The former owners (and builders) were from Knoxville, and they themselves had quite the affinity for antiques—travelling around the southeast as dealers of early American pieces.

The home was a Williamsburg plan that they constructed with various farmhouse elements from the 1850s. Because of this, the house boasts 7 dismantled and refurbished fireplaces, two large stairwells and other incredibly idyllic ‘farmhouse’ traits. 

It was only natural, when the Braden’s set out to update and customize the home, that they wanted to maintain its original nature, character and charm. They did opt, however, to add a covered front porch that runs the length of the home, an incredibly cozy screened porch, a mudroom/office, garage and guest cottage.

The property is also home to a cabin (c. 1830) that was relocated from upper East Tennessee, reconstructed and re-chinked, that happens to be the first building one sees when entering the property.

And if the cabin and main house interiors aren’t enough to make one swoon, the Colonial Williamsburg-style flower, fruit, vegetable and herb gardens--complete with antique brick formations, pebble rock footpaths, Koi pond, shed and gazebo--certainly are. 

When asked about his favorite aspect of the home, Gary Braden—2nd generation owner of Braden’s Lifestyles Furniture—says it’s definitely the keeping room, which opens up directly off of their dreamy farmhouse kitchen.  He explains that the keeping room is where the home’s largest fireplace is located, creating an inviting, warm and relaxing area during the fall and winter months when the wood fire perpetually burns.  The home’s cozy screened porch with painted wood floors is his 2nd favorite spot and where he prefers to greet the day with that first cup of coffee and quiet time. 

Karen Braden, without hesitation, says her favorite spot in the home is the kitchen.  It could be the large open space, the gorgeous marble countertops, the subway tile, the big behind-the-sink windows or the sink itself—a refurbished 100+ year old cast iron farmhouse basin. Or it could be because it’s where she makes all of her magic, as she is quite the baker. 

The Braden’s recently shared that while their family’s Christmas traditions have changed in recent years, due to the growth and development of their kids’ families and personal traditions, they still hang on to a few of the same activities.  For starters, in addition to her other Christmas trees, Karen maintains a ‘kids’ tree,’ where she showcases all of the homemade ornaments from each of her three children: Nick, Natalie and Alexander. They still love to host and entertain, whether it’s a Christmas Eve dinner for the family, a large church-based group or even the Braden’s team members and spouses for holiday parties.

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