When the Hamm family learned that a 19th-century farmhouse in Mississippi was due to be demolished, they did everything they could to stop it from happening. And the Hamms did end up saving the property, just not in the way you might think.
The Hamms married when Tim and Natalie were still in their teens. At the time, Tim was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Mississippi, and Natalie was pregnant. They already had one young son and money was scarce.
Natalie spoke to Design Sponge about that period in October 2017. “With an empty home and a growing family, I began designing pieces of furniture that Tim could build to furnish our 1,200-square-foot rental,” she said. To keep costs low, the pair bought items of furniture at yard sales and renovated them.
They did such a good job on the furniture, in fact, that people took notice. “People started asking to buy it,” Natalie explained to Country Living. “And that’s when we decided we should start selling it.” The pair turned their hobby into a business, Hammmade Furniture, which now keeps them busy full time.
Both Tim and Natalie were introduced to the creative side of life at an early age. Natalie, from Oxford, was heavily influenced by her mother, who studied painting at the University of Mississippi when Natalie was a child and had an art studio in their house.
“Growing up, I spent my summers helping her teach community art lessons,” Natalie told The ’Sip in August 2017. “My parents built their home when I was ten. I remember spending a lot of time looking through all the house plan books and coming up with different layouts.”
Tim, who grew up in Water Valley, gravitated towards handicrafts of his own accord. “In high school, I found an old dresser in a barn behind our house,” he recalled. “I refinished it and, after that, I began building a couple other pieces for my room.”
Their family has since increased in size. After having four children – five-year-old Skylar, Levi, ten, Brooks, 11 and Luke, 13 – the need for more space became apparent. In addition, as Tim and Natalie enjoyed their work so much, the idea of renovating their own home seemed like a natural progression.
Tim and Natalie subsequently bought a sizable plot of land outside Oxford, where they intended to construct business premises. Then in 2014 the couple learned that a local 19th-century farmhouse was due to be demolished by a church organization. The Hamms knew they had to do something.
“We’d get calls to tear down old barns, churches and homes,” Natalie explained to Design Sponge. “We were fascinated by the beauty of these old structures and the thought of saving what seemed long gone and giving it a second chance.” And the farmhouse was no different.
“We spent days trying to figure out a way to move it onto our land,” Natalie continued. “It wasn’t possible.” So, the Hamms decided to do what came naturally to them. They reused as much of the old house as they could and built a brand-new home of their own.
Natalie “decided to salvage everything possible, from trim to shiplap and flooring” in order to build the farmhouse. She then proceeded to sketch out the design of the new home on a bit of paper. The house was constructed over the following year, despite the fact that the couple never even drew up proper blueprints.
Natalie did admit that the dream home had been a long time coming, though. “We’d been designing our dream house since we were first married,” she told Country Living. And it shows in the finished home, which ended up being nothing short of spectacular.
The house was built to resemble a farmhouse from the 19th century, similar to the one that had been knocked down. In their own words, the couple wanted a house that was “simple, with old character that would accommodate many kids.”
Luke, the eldest of the Hamm children, has his own room, decorated in the colors of the University of Mississippi. The youngest in the family, Skylar, also has her own room, complete with a tepee.
The other two siblings, Levi and Brooks, share a room, which is decorated with posters of national parks. A quirky touch has been added to the décor by the use of deer antlers and mismatched beds. It’s Tim and Natalie’s bedroom, however, that really stands out.
Built on the main floor, the master bedroom has a lofty ceiling clad in reclaimed wood. The light let in by the 7-foot tall windows perfectly highlights the decking. Believe it or not, it’s actually shiplap salvaged from the old farmhouse.
In keeping with the reused theme of the rest of the house, the headboard was “inspired by an old door,” and the old dressers were picked up in yard sales. The curtains, meanwhile, are made from simple canvas drop cloth, and the rug was a present from Tim’s mom, who created it herself.
The outside of the house is no less impressive, with front and back porch areas offering views of Wolf Creek. The front porch has a swing bed, which is a classic Hammmade product, and the back porch is home to a sturdy table that the couple salvaged from a factory.
Natalie told Design Sponge that building the house has been “an exciting process” that has made the family “appreciate every step 100 times more.” “It’s something we enjoy as a family,” she explained to Country Living. “Like a hobby. Hopefully, our kids see it that way, too.”