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Attention, Campers: Resort Homes With Family Focus

At Camp Callaway, a new community in Callaway Gardens, Georgia, old-fashioned vacation cabins make a comeback with retro styling.

photography by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, styling by Brian Carter

In a simpler time, summer meant getting away to camp or A country cabin. The annual retreat to rusticity meant swimming, sunburns, watermelons, and s’mores. It was about learning a love of nature and growing up a little. Those fond memories are the inspiration for a new vacation home community in Callaway Gardens, the horticulture-rooted resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Called Camp Callaway, the development features cottages that are a dream version of old-time vacation cabins. “Camp Callaway is a woodsy feeling place,” says project manager Jeff Quinn of Cousins Properties, developer for the community. “The first phase is 18 units tucked into the woods on a little peninsula on a lake.” Because Camp Callaway cabins are vacation homes, Jeff says the architects thought small. The cabins are no larger than 1,400 square feet. “We worked with Historical Concepts, an architecture firm experienced in living smaller,” he says. “That is the trend today.”

Making the most of available space means the little cabins are a perfect fit for families. Cabin owner Karen Sheheane sums up the scale of the place when she says it has “a three-butt kitchen.” But she agrees that it works. Karen and her husband, Herb, first heard of the development last December at a family gathering at Callaway Gardens. “Our son picked up a brochure. We went to the realty office and said, ‘We have 15 minutes, sell us a cabin.’” Sold! The couple closed on their cabin in March. Karen and Herb grew up in nearby Columbus, Georgia, and Herb once worked as a lifeguard at the resort’s Robin Lake Beach.

Buyers may choose an interior design package for their retreat. The Sheheanes, who live in Tallahassee full time, turned their décor over to Atlanta designer Elizabeth Spangler who has created the interiors of three of the seven cabins that have been built so far. “Our concept was a vintage, hip, cottage style,” Elizabeth says. “We wanted it to be easygoing and engaging with the environment.”

Camp Callaway’s environment was the inspiration for the cottages’ color schemes. Earth tones, such as stained wood walls, set the scene, with daubs of nature’s colors enlivening the interior. Interiors are sprinkled with poppy red, greens, and yellows.Antiqued red doors, traditional sliding barn doors, bunk rooms, claw-foot tubs, sloped ceilings, and screened porches make rustic references. “We used garden colors,” Elizabeth says. “We wanted different materials, textures, and colors—as in nature. The browns are the soil, the greens are the vegetation, and red and yellow are the flowers.”

Vintage metal signs and ordinary objects repurposed, such as a coat rack fashioned of water nozzles, help set the camp mood.

But it is Camp Callaway’s setting that really works to decompress vacationers. When Elizabeth and her crew were installing their interior design, the windows were open and they found their usual deadline stress was soothed.

“We could hear the creek and the birds,” she says. “The quiet was so relaxing. It was the most serene installation.”

Cabin-in-the-woods peace is one of the blandishments of Camp Callaway, along with neighborhood amenities to entice youngsters away from their electronic amusements. “At the end of the street there is a fire pit,” Karen says. “We roast marshmallows with the grandchildren, and my husband tells ghost stories. I see my grandchildren playing on the same beach where I played. It will be great to spend time outdoors with them. I feel like Camp Callaway will give us a family focus.”

Callaway Gardens is a 13,000-acre resort that combines conservation, education, and recreation. Summertime offerings include swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, cycling, hiking, bungee jumping, rock climbing, laser tag, and more. For less strenuous fun, visitors may rent a beach chair, stroll through well-tended gardens, shop, or opt for a relaxing spa day. The beauties of Callaway Gardens include:

• The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where butterflies of more than 50 species flit among tropical plants.

• The John A. Sibley Horticultural Center, five acres of indoor and outdoor gardens, includes a sculpture garden and a 22-foot indoor waterfall.

• Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden, familiar to viewers of PBS’s The Victory Garden, demonstrates the cultivation of fruits, veggies, and herbs.

• The Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel, is a miniature Gothic structure with nature-inspired stained glass windows. On Saturdays and Sundays in the summer, a pipe organ is played for visitors strolling the trails.

• Three manmade lakes and a mile-long manmade beach are the center of sun-and-sand activities.

• Two golf courses set amid nature’s beauty, ensure a worthwhile outing regardless of score.

• Gently rolling hills and a winding path carry bike riders on a grand adventure through Callaway Gardens. The 10-mile Discovery Bicycle Trail combines sightseeing with an outdoor excursion that puts you in the middle of Southern flora and wildlife.

For more on Callaway Gardens and properties and rental homes at Camp Callaway, www.callawaygardens.com

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