Come fall, it’s all boots and bird dogs at this Southern family farm.
Pine trees rooted in the rich, black topsoil of southern Alabama tower above the mossy wetlands of this Gulf state’s lower half. It’s in this part of the country, where behind a woodland curtain you’ll find open fields rolling into swamp bottoms, that a Birmingham-based family decided to build on their own piece of land.
The husband and wife have owned this property for about 20 years, their three children now grown. Early on, the five of them built a small cabin together with their own hands. In 2010, they enlisted the help of architect Jeffrey Dungan to expand upon that original work.
“The property has evolved from purely raw land, consisting of hardwood swamp bottoms, large pine plantations, and open fields,” the husband says. “It has been a true labor of love to see the land develop, and in particular see our wonderful main ranch house take form.”
Greeted first by screened-in porches, family and friends usher in weekends at the farm with hunting in the surrounding fields, woods, and lakes — birds and deer in the fall, turkey in the spring. “We have added dog kennels for our bird dogs and our guests’ dogs when they visit,” the husband adds, explaining that the family comes home to this place more and more — most weekends, in fact, and all holidays throughout the year. During the autumn season, when not outside, entertainment comes in the form of crackling fires and cozy chairs made for watching college football.
“It reminds me of certain people you meet, where it’s ‘what you see is what you get.’ I think it creates a type of authenticity that is wonderful and refreshing,” says Dungan, who used natural materials including indigenous fieldstone and local reclaimed wood to craft a welcoming but informal, family-friendly setting.
Dungan, the author of The Nature of Home: Creating Timeless Houses, wanted to design a warm, inviting household — something that spoke to the land around it and looked as if it had always been there. Expansive and relaxed, the property now comprises 7 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, all styled in warm, neutral tones meant to honor the modesty of the family’s original cabin.
I think it creates a type of authenticity that is wonderful and refreshing. —Architect Jeffrey Dungan
True to form, the activities at this Southern hearth haven’t gotten any fancier.
“We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and open great room, and on the sprawling porches that Jeff [Dungan] designed for use year-round,” the husband says. “It is common for us to catch a batch of fish, clean them, and start cooking in the open kitchen mid-morning, serving friends and family on paper plates as we go, and end up with all the fish eaten and no one ever sitting down.”
Jeffrey Dungan, Principal | Jeffrey Dungan Architects | Mountain Brook, AL | 205.322.2057
Get The Look
Feel the warmth of fall with these rustic down-home accents.
PHOTOGRAPHY: William Abranowitz.