A Beautiful Rural Farmhouse Retreat

Come the weekend, Atlanta shop owners Dan Belman and Randy Korando leave their city life behind and retreat to a scenic getaway they call Camp Boxwoods. Located just outside the historic community of Madison, Georgia, this green, rural setting offers an inspired nesting place for rest, relaxation, and laid-back group gatherings.

Preserving the original footprint of a 1970s one-story lake house, homeowners Dan Belman and Randy Korando repurposed antique furniture, vintage collectibles, and architectural salvage to create their three-story Victorian-style farmhouse in the country.

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Sooner or later, that primal urge to flee from everyday life washes over all of us. When it does, we choose a destination, pack our bags, and get away from it all. Such was the mind-set of Dan Belman and Randy Korando, owners of a landmark Atlanta shop in the heart of Buckhead known as Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts. With a prospering business that had gradually grown into three separate boutiques—garden, gift, and home entertaining—the couple’s supercharged professional lives had them juggling everything from landscape and interior design to intensive buying trips abroad.

“In 2002, when we decided it was time for a second home away from the city,” says Dan, “we set the parameters for two hours or less from Atlanta and took off on a Saturday to find it.” Their first stop was Madison, Georgia, a small but sophisticated historic town that attracts such esteemed performing-arts organizations as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Despite a love-at-first-sight reaction, the two thought it best to explore their options, visiting at least a dozen other towns before winding up back in Madison on Sunday.

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“We went into a real-estate office and told them we were looking for 15 acres with an old house off the main road,” Dan recalls. “Six months later, they told us they had found our place.” A considerable departure from their original criteria, the property spread out over 60 acres, and the house was a one-story from the late 1970s. But when Dan and Randy arrived, drove down the luxuriant quarter-mile lane, and passed two lakes before reaching the home, they were already smitten. “We decided in the driveway it was ours,” says Randy. “We were sold by the beautiful setting alone.”

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Today, a decade later, their land has increased to 250 acres comprising green rolling hills, low meadow-lands, stables, horses, riding trails, a waterfall, a three-story Victorian-style farmhouse, and lots of animals. Dubbed “Camp Boxwoods” by its owners, the rambling property offers an authentic and relaxing country sojourn for their scores of invited friends who have delighted in the experience.

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“We tried to create a camp atmosphere for grown-ups and kids,” notes Dan. “We wanted big, comfortable public spaces for gathering and communal cooking and plenty of private spaces for cozy guest rooms. We’re also huge animal lovers and insisted on a pet-friendly environment.” Outside, a menagerie of cows, sheep, llamas, chickens, goats, and baby lambs brings a certain pastoral enchantment to the Camp Boxwoods weekend escape. The couple researched their animals extensively to find self-sufficient breeds conducive to the climate, as well as sheep that don’t require shearing.

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Inside, a visible footprint of the original ’70s house remains, but throughout the years, it has been refurbished and expanded to include three spacious floors and large areas for entertaining. From top to bottom, every room has been carefully styled with recycled antique furniture, choice vintage collectibles, and reclaimed architectural relics culled from European basements, French fields, and dealer shows in the South of France.

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“I like creating little places of interest all over the house,” says Randy, a zealous collector and a true visionary when it comes to reusing old things in new ways. “Everything—from doors to mouldings to etched glass—always has a story.”

From “A Farmhouse Retreat” in the May/June 2012 issue of Victoria magazine.

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