We were living in South Florida when we decided to move to a location that offered a better school system and the possibility of more land. In south Florida, the homes are practically on top of each other. We looked at homes with five acres to 30 acres and what type of layout would make the most sense for us. Several homes we were interested in went under contract immediately, and initially we weren’t interested in this home. The land next door had been developed by a high school and we weren’t interested in being their neighbors. We decided to at least view it while we were in town. Upon arrival, we noticed how close to town it was, but how secluded it was at the same time. It’s become the hidden gem of Gainesville. The house sits on 20 acres, mostly wooded, with a private drive. The layout of the house is very open, so it worked well for my husband. Initially, with renovating, we didn’t need to change anything structurally, it was mostly cosmetic. It happened to fit our budget and it’s been the Forbes home ever since!
If you were to ask me what my favorite room in the house was, I would have to say it is a toss up between our kitchen and our master bath. We designed the rooms ourselves and they are the wow factors of our home. I would find certain vintage pieces and go from there. For our kitchen, the light fixtures were a vintage find. I’m assuming they probably belonged in a church previously and I loved the uniqueness to them and I basically designed our entire kitchen around them. We added the cypress beams throughout the house to give it the old world feel.
Someone asked us a few days ago, “Will this be your forever home?” In a way, yes, but possibly no. If we did move, we would definitely build out on land; possibly more acreage for livestock and orchards. It would be hard to leave this behind. I told our friend, that if we did move, I’d have to dig up all of my roses and take down all my antique light fixtures, which I guess is a huge no-no. It would be hard to leave all of my favorite finds behind.
We’ve heard numerous stories about the history of the land from various neighbors. There is an old dilapidated schoolhouse in the woods behind our house that could possibly be 100 years old. Supposedly the land dates back to one owner from the 1800s who farmed it, and it’s believed our parcel of land could have been the slave quarters with the schoolhouse.
We basically did a full house remodel, minus the upstairs. It was mostly cosmetic, which made the process easier. The renovations were split between two phases, and we hired R.E. Robinson to do the work. Bobbie knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish, and he helped me convince Chris that I was always right! We still have a few more projects left to do, but nothing major like we previously did.
The biggest memorable moment in our home is raising Lilly here. It’s been fun to watch her become a farm girl. She was roughly 18 months old when we moved here. While most kids are inside on tablets or the TV, she’s outside catching lizards, playing with her chickens and finding new bugs to collect. She’s learning the responsibilities of having animals to care for, and she’s learning where her food really comes from.
I love to spend time outside. We have 20 acres with goats, chickens and huge garden beds. I’m constantly in the garden tending to plants or at Garden Gate Nursery buying more plants. I recently started building a rose garden!
I probably have over 20 rose bushes. No knockouts or drifts, but I collect English roses like David Austin varieties. It’s been a fun project to put together over the past few weeks.
QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN STYLE IN YOUR HOME?
It’s hard to say. A lot of my inspiration comes from the homes in the french countryside. I’m not necessarily ultra-farmhouse, I do like to mix vintage and modern. I guess we could say European? I really admire their take on textures and mixing new with old. Everything is of a collection in the Forbes home and serves a purpose to them.
Photos by Brittany Forbes