Something Old, Something New


Restoring a piece of history is nothing new for our long time friend, Karen Tillery. Her latest log cabin restoration got the attention of Mark Bowe, host of DIY's popular show Barnwood Builders. Upon purchasing this property in Langston, AL, Karen began her quest to renovate and restore this neglected home. The home was originally built around a log cabin that came from Chatsworth, GA. Rumor has it that the cabin was actually located on a battlefield from the 1800's. Since the home was not large enough, Karen planned to add an addition to the back of the house by using the logs from an old dog-trot log cabin she had purchased, torn down, and stored six years prior. After discovering that the logs had been stored improperly and had now composted, she contacted Mark to see if he had a log cabin that might work for the plans she had already drafted. He was so intrigued by Karen's story that he thought it would make for a great episode on the show. On May 29, 2016, their episode aired on DIY's Barnwood Builders and you can find it on Season 3, Episode 7. 


As part of the restoration, a kitchen renovation was in order and Karen began designing a modern kitchen with a rustic flare. For most of us, finding the right mix of styles can be a challenge, but for Karen it comes easy. She uses these elements with a design and purpose in mind. 


"For me, in decorating 1800's log cabins I strive for anything but the expected. I mix contemporary pieces with antiques, and classic pieces with rustic pieces. I use natural finishes and elements to combine them with handcrafted furniture and accents. When looked at separately, these things seem totally unrelated. When combined together they give an eclectic look, with a warm and inviting atmosphere that screams "home." Because the log cabin itself is such an incredible structure, a work of art, my approach to decorating is to compliment these beauties." 


That's just what Karen did when designing this kitchen. She completely gutted what was an old outdated 70's style and turned it into something just short of a piece of artwork, blending contemporary shaker style cabinets and quartz countertops with antique and rustic elements... one of which is the original brick floor that became the color palette for her masterpiece. "My starting point for the design was the mortar in the brick floor. It's grey hues became the inspiration for the cabinets and the countertops giving light and balance to the dark space."


Karen's designs are always unique and definitely one of a kind. Designing the kitchen island around an old pie safe and incorporating some of the original cabinets into the new design, she was able to create both functional and focal pieces for the room. She lets nothing go to waste and brings old pieces to life again while embellishing the charm and character of the original cabin. Her projects, while sometimes challenging, always expand our strengths and exceed our expectations as a company. For over twelve years, we've worked with Karen designing and creating a "new" piece of history. Every project is an opportunity to think outside the box, or in her case, "outside the cabin pen."


While filming final parts of the episode, Mark Bowe jokingly made the comment that they should continue working together. Karen's last comment was, "of course, but you get to be the boss on the outside and I get to be the boss on the inside." Little did she know then, that less than one year she would be working alongside Mark and the Barnwood Builders. Karen is now the Conceptual Designer for Barnwood Living. What began as a passion for pieces of history, has now become her new-found career. With a degree in graphic design and fine arts, Karen now has the opportunity to help clients conceptualize and visualize their dream by hand-sketching floor plans and design ideas on paper. Through water color and ink pens, she brings every design to life. 


If you would like more information about Barnwood Living, you can visit their new website and showroom at barnwoodliving.com. If you're interested in renting any of Karen's beautiful log cabins, visit restorationlogcabinrentals.com.


For questions on the products or information in this article, you can give us a call at 256.536.8086.

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