Photography courtesy of StoneMill Log & Timber Homes
On a 60-acre stretch of land in Camden, South Carolina, 10 horses (some rescues, others retired show horses) have found their piece of paradise at Magnolia Farm. While we can never truly know the thoughts that pass through their equine minds as they graze on the greenest grass this side of heaven — each in their own personal pastures — it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the closing words of Black Beauty were among them: “Here my story ends … I am at home.”
They wouldn’t be alone in their sentiments. Their owner, Sherry Cooke, an accomplished horsewoman, feels equally settled at the family farm she owns with her husband, Dick, despite owning two other houses in the Carolinas — one a mountain retreat and the other, a city house modeled after an Italian villa.
“When we get to the farm, we soak in the quietness and love to just relax,” she shares in her genteel drawl.
For the couple, many days start with cozying up to a fire in the outdoor fireplace
. The morning mist hovers over the adjacent pond before eventually lifting above the tops of the property’s abundance of magnolia trees, for which the farm was named.
Of course, with the building of their custom log home behind them, the couple now has the time to en-joy the fruits of their labor. Sherry admits with candor that designing and building a log house wasn’t an overnight process, but as a one-time showman of a Grand Prix jumper, she understands that achieving anything worthwhile takes time.
She also knows that sometimes the most appreciated victories follow the hardest defeats — a truth confirmed after a lightning strike during a severe storm sparked a fire that burnt their original cottage to the ground, ultimately resulting in the creation of their home as it now stands. “When we were deciding what to rebuild, my husband kept saying, ‘Why don’t we check into a log house,’” she shares.
The couple connected with Mathew Sterchi, vice president of sales and marketing at StoneMill Log & Timber Homes
. “Their whole theme, architecturally, was a classic equestrian farm mixed with more traditional elements,” he says. As a nod to the original log homes of Appalachia, the Cookes chose a flat log with dovetail corners and chinked joints. Alongside the full-log construction, they incorporated exposed heavy timbers in the roof system. “The Douglas fir logs and beams are finished to replicate the hewn look of an old broad axe,” explains Mathew. “It gives the wood a little more depth and character — a more rustic aesthetic.”
In keeping with the logs, Sherry kept an eye towards rusticity as she designed the interiors, allowing the property’s roots to guide her. “I wanted it to be the kind of place where people could walk in and feel comfortable, a place where they could wear their shoes inside and not worry about where they sat,” she says. “This is a farmhouse.”
But not all the home’s elements are relaxed; there is enough refinement and attention to detail to make this a proper Southern estate, starting with the horse-shaped door handles (rumored to cost a stable full of cash) on the custom double doors that greet friends and family. “You can’t underscore enough the time, energy and money that was put into that small of a detail,” says Mathew. “It really exemplifies the project as a whole.”
While the entryway has its moment in Southern luxury — encased by diamond-patterned wallpaper and polished travertine floors and punctuated with a cowhide rug, ornate cherry wood upholstered chairs (complete with horse-head carvings on the arms) and gold and crystal wall sconces — it opens to the home’s main living space, which casually combines great room, dining area and kitchen.
The space is filled with upscale touches — the dusty gray custom cabinetry with crown molding in the kitchen, a crystal chandelier over the dining table and a pair of curvy, camel-colored leather sofas with nailhead detail in the great room — but it’s the rustic elements that keep the space grounded. “I didn’t want anything too pretentious because that isn’t the farm,” Sherry explains. Charleston stone on the fireplace, iron light fixtures and an abundance of equine-themed touches flow naturally with the timbers spanning overhead. Against the stained beams and heavier visual elements, the pickled log walls and yellow pine tongue-and-groove ceilings feel fresh.
Of course, the abundance of French doors leading to the covered patios flanking all three sides of the space add to the airy feel — especially when they’re flung open to the couple’s favorite spot: the covered patio at the rear of the house. “That outdoor living area is really an extension of the interior living space,” explains Mathew. Beautifully appointed, with sit-and-stay-awhile seating and peace-inducing views to the pond and the pastures, the space feels at one with the house. “Inside and out, the finishes, the colors, the textures, the architecture, the setting, the layout ...” says Mathew, “it just all flows so well together.”
Square Footage: 4,399