PASSPORT: Blackberry Farm

It’s hard to beat the refined, country elegance of a visit to Blackberry Farm. Suzanne takes us on an inside tour of the property and shares design anecdotes from her many visits to this distinguished, foothills retreat.

A Gracious Welcome

Blackberry Farm is a very special place…Nestled in the Tennessee foothills, Blackberry Farm welcomes guests with a warmth and style like no other. I am so grateful to be a part of this unique destination and excited about its next chapter. I can remember my very first visit and cannot wait until my next!

My first introduction to Blackberry Farm was 15 years ago when I met Kreis Beall and was hired to work with her on the new reception center and guest room. The thing I found most interesting was that Kreis had bought Blackberry Farm when she was in her 20’s. And not only hadn’t sold it, but continued building it into the very special and unique Relais & Chateaux that it is today.

I’ve continued working with them over the years…first helping Sandy and Kreis with their own house and various other buildings, and then doing the same for their late son Sam and his darling wife, Mary Celeste. It is always such an incredible treat to be able to work on projects that have special meaning, and Blackberry is most certainly one of those places and projects for me!

Toad Hall was my very first introduction to Blackberry Farm, and so it will forever hold a special place in my heart! It’s incredibly charming…it is an extraordinary log cabin that is a fascinating mix of the rustic and the refined.

I like to think of it as an English manor house that meets a log cabin – a perfect reflection of the Great Smokey Mountains nearby.

The materials used are inspired by nature and the outdoors…and they speak directly to the history of the region and the beautiful rolling hills just outside every window…

Another reason Toad Hall is so fabulous is that it is both a retreat where guests can come and work, and also functions as a fabulous entertaining space. With walls that are more glass than solid, this room feels incredibly spacious…it blurs the line between inside and outside and when the doors are open you can hear the nearby creek.

Mary Celeste and Sam Beall’s personal family home on the property is one of my favorites. It was designed to look as though it had been there forever, using fieldstone found on the property. Their family is constantly inviting guest chefs from all over to come teach cooking classes, and inevitably everyone ends up over at their house…so it is more than just a family home, but it is also like a personal extension of Blackberry Farm, a space suitable for entertaining many at the drop of a hat!

This is a real chef’s kitchen in their home with plenty of room for lots of friends and family to be in there, chopping and cooking and eating all together.

The heart of Blackberry Farm is The Barn. When you stay on the property, everyone is encouraged to take part in any and all of the farm activities, and The Barn is the always the center of the action…

The beauty of The Barn is in the weathered wood and big, lofty spaces. It is so fun to watch the cooking demonstrations that happen on the huge island in this space! The chairs were designed to be comfortable, so guests can linger for hours if they want to.

Gourmet meals are served here with the fresh vegetables you may have picked from the garden that morning. There is home-cured charcuterie and delicious artisanal cheeses. There is also the most incredible wine collection you have ever seen…and I can’t think of a more beautiful place than to sit down and enjoy a glass…it is truly an experience to be had!

When you visit Blackberry Farm it has a way of capturing you and transporting you to a place where time stops…beauty is in the natural…wood burning fires….farm to table… natural but edited…

A spectacular recent addition to Blackberry is the new event center, Bramble Hall. The architect was our Atlanta friend Keith Summerour and we designed the interiors. It really is the most amazing place to host any type of event. With large glass windows, high barn-like ceilings and an outdoor amphitheater just beyond, it beautifully marries Blackberry festivities with the countryside that surrounds.

We also recently refreshed the Guest House and I love how it turned out! It is a wonderful place to stay for a wedding or family vacation. The multiple seating areas are great for groups and the terrace looks over the pond and boathouse making it a central location.

And speaking of refreshing…the new spa — THE WELLHOUSE — is not to be missed. Treatments using Blackberry’s signature Bourbon and Lavender skincare line make for truly unique spa treatments. Nobody pampers you better than the skilled staff at the Wellness House.

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to go back to Blackberry Farm this February, where I am being featured as the ARTIST IN RESIDENCE and doing a workshop with Kreis as a part of their A YEAR OF GREAT DAYS series. We’ll be sharing our different approaches and processes to design, telling more about the story of our design journey together and giving a guided tour of our collaborative work at Blackberry. You can read more about the event being held February 26th-February 28th HERE.

In the end, the idea behind Blackberry Farm is not only to come and unwind, but also to reconnect with the land and the outdoors. It is very unique to be in a place so connected to living life. And it is all about the details…the food…the wine…the service…in the most amazing way.

I am constantly inspired by the story of Blackberry Farm, from the beginning of it’s inception, to what it has grown into today. Blackberry Farm has created a unique legacy… and when you go to there you always feel like you are a part of the family.

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