Saving a Storied Farmhouse

The Benton Home

By Christina Davenport

Photography by Daniel Neuhoff/Creative Revolver

John Dalberg-Acton once said, “History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” And this sentiment couldn’t be more true for Brad and Wendy Benton.

When Brad purchased a 300-acre farm to raise cattle at the age of 27, he couldn’t help but feel as though he had uncovered a special slice of history. The property even came complete with a quaint 1930s farmhouse that offered a drastically different lifestyle than what he was used to. Fast forward several decades, and the farm is home to a whole new history – that of the Benton family.

Life on the farm hasn’t always been a walk in the pasture, however. When they first decided to undertake the addition of a retaining wall and the subsequent remodel of the home, Brad and Wendy were tasked with rectifying decades of water damage and other issues caused by less-than-ideal construction.

“People say they don’t build houses like they used to, and in our experience, that’s a good thing,” says Brad. “It would have probably been just as easy to tear the house down and start from scratch, but we raised our three children in this house, and we really wanted to keep those memories alive.” 

The end result is a functional farmhouse that is as comfortable as it is stylish. Although the home may be sporting a new coat of paint and updated finishes, the Bentons have worked hard to make sure that the storied history of the house – and the items in it – doesn’t fade with time.

To access the hub of the Benton home, visitors can follow a charming pathway around the side of the house. The paved walkway that snakes around the corner opens into an expansive patio right off of the keeping room that is punctuated with various seating arrangements.

“This space has been crucial for us,” explains Wendy. “We have a very large family, and we love to entertain. We’ve had upwards of 60 people here before, and with the patio, it is still really comfortable.”

Staying true to the farmhouse style, the home features white siding dotted with black windows and doors. This pairing lends itself perfectly to a sense of sophistication all the while maintaining approachability – something that is a bit of a hallmark for the Benton home. 

Passing through a set of sliding French doors transports visitors into the Bentons’ keeping room. This inviting room embodies a certain warmth that is achieved through its size, neutral color palette, and stunning stone fireplace. A live-edge coffee table commands attention and rests on top of a lightly colored transitional rug, while a gray leather loveseat is mirrored by two upholstered armchairs and matching ottomans. 

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Just steps away from the keeping room is the home’s dining room, which again offers up a striking duality of impact and accessibility. Several wood pieces – from the elongated dining table and nearby china cabinet – are paired with high-drama elements such as the black and white floral wallpaper and the beaded chandelier. 

“My style is a little hard to pinpoint, and I’ve married quite a bit of things together,” explains Wendy. “I like certain elements of the rustic and farmhouse styles, but I also have an eclectic side and love clean lines.”

The other element that plays into the design and décor of the Benton home is that of sentimentality. Nearly everywhere you turn is a one-of-a-kind piece with a story just waiting to be told. One such piece is the set of armchairs found at the heads of the dining table.

“My dad was a car dealer for decades, and these chairs came from his work,” says Brad. “If you went to go visit him in the ‘70s, these would have been the chairs you would have sat in that were across from his desk.”

The romanticism doesn’t stop there, however. The room’s wallpaper is an ode to Wendy’s mother, who was a larger-than-life floral designer, while the china cabinet was an anniversary gift and serves as a reminder to the Bentons of the early years of their marriage.

Also adjacent to the keeping room is the home’s high-contrast kitchen. Dove white perimeter cabinetry features pops of signature black, while white subway tiles and quartz countertops round out the monochromatic color scheme. Chrome pulls dot the overlay shaker cabinetry, and a coordinating plumbing fixture works to tie in the metallic sheen of the appliances. A swath of gold emerges from the pendant lights and subtly warms the space.

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Just around the corner is the Bentons’ sunroom, which serves as a space to unplug, unwind, and connect with one another. 

“Some people have been doing these Montana rooms recently. Well, this is our version of that. We call it our East Tennessee room,” says Wendy. 

Once a screened-in porch that Brad built not long after acquiring the property, this room strives to pay homage to the area’s beautiful surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling casement windows provide views of the rolling green pastures just outside. Knotty pine is both an economical and sustainable choice and comprises the walls and tongue-and-groove ceiling. 

“I love this room because I feel like it captures the ambience of the farm,” says Brad. “Our families have had places around here since the ‘30s, and we can see all these areas out in the distance that we would spend time at when we were growing up. We can see the mountains. It’s just a peaceful place to sit.”

 

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Exploring the rest of the Benton home is like continuing a journey through time. Hung on walls and tucked into corners are tales of travels and memories of time spent with family. When asked what’s next for the Benton estate, Brad and Wendy are hopeful that their children will one day make their way back to the farm to enjoy the property just as they have. But in the meantime, the duo is content serving as stewards of this storied home and welcoming guests with open arms.

 

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