By MARY-KATHRYN HERRINGTON • Photography by RORY DOYLE
Once forgotten, this humble little cabin is now Cadey and Ford True’s favorite place to share with family and friends
When Cadey and Ford True were looking for a hunting camp for their family, he knew just the spot.
For years, Ford True has hunted at Burke’s Hunting Club, often near an old cabin that had belonged to longtime friend Skip Graeber’s family for decades. Graeber grew up spending time at the cabin and hunting the land, but after the flood of 2011, the damage was so great that he chose not to tackle the repairs and renovations it required. Like many structures along the river after the epic flood, it was left to the wilds of nature and had become quite grown over. When the Trues became serious about looking for a place for their family, Ford True immediately thought of the hidden treasure in the woods that overlooked a lovely lake, was near their home in Clarksdale, and was already filled with memories. It was perfect.
Word had come down from the club that the cabin was either going to be sold or torn down, and that’s all Ford True needed to hear. Although Cadey True had some reservations, she was convinced to give it a try, having strong ties to the club, having spent time there when she was a girl. “I grew up going to Burke’s Hunting Club, my parents had a cabin on the River,” says Cadey True. With that, the couple purchased the cabin about eighteen months ago and immediately began renovating the property.
Built in 1978, the cabin was well designed, and the structure still intact. Although the Trues took the cabin down to the studs, they were mindful to save a few original details, including the original front door and hardware. Cadey True also repurposed the original hand-hewn mantel and had it made into two custom shelves for plants on the back porch. The screened porch and dock that were original to the house also remained.
During the renovation, the Trues primarily kept the original layout of the cabin but made a few tweaks to suit their family of five better. One main change was in the kitchen area, which was redesigned, increasing the size, with the help of Clarksdale interior designer Rachel Cirilli. Cadey True uses every inch of the space, as she is an accomplished cook known for her homemade bread, as well as developing and testing recipes for their family business, Heaton Pecans. “We kept the layout pretty much the same but made the kitchen larger,” she says, adding, “When the boys are all in the woods—I cook. I love to cook!”
The Trues, who have three boys, find spending time in the woods the perfect respite. “Ford is an avid hunter and our sons all hunt, so it’s perfect,” she says.
“My boys love the woods, they love the simple life, they love a dirt road. They have so much fun just playing in the front yard and we love that for them,” Cadey True says. “It is simple there, and we’re trying to teach them to value that.”
The interior of the cabin perfectly combines beauty, simplicity, and comfort. The warm tones of the wood-paneled walls give the space a rustic feel, but they are elevated with a painted gray trim. In the living area, a pair of overstuffed white sofas and other comfortable furniture provide ample seating surrounding the brick fireplace.
“When we built this, I wanted it to have the feel and touch of Blackberry Farm,” says Cadey True. The rustic resort near the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is a special destination.”We go there every year with my parents and it is the most magical place.” The inspiration that she derived from one of her favorite spots is evident throughout the home, from the blanket on the sofa to a favorite hat purchased at Blackberry Farm that resides conveniently on the hat rack by the door.
Sentimental details are found throughout the space. The painting in the left corner of the den by Clarksdale artist Hayden Hall is particularly special. “It’s of my brother Cliff’s pond. We always plant sunflowers there in the spring to be ready for fall dove hunts,” Cadey True says of the memorial pond built in the family’s pecan orchard to honor her brother, who passed away in 2017. Other personal details make it feel like home. A vintage milk churn nestled in the corner was Ford’s great-grandmother’s, and the walls are adorned with numerous mounts that hold the stories of many productive days spent in the woods.
With their three young boys in mind, the Trues added a bunk room with custom built-ins by Brian Atwood, providing plenty of space for their sons and friends to enjoy time at the cabin. The feather plume wallpaper is by Thibaut, and the deep teal paint color chosen for the trim and in the Jack-and-Jill bathroom that connects to another bedroom adds a little whimsy to the space that will grow with them.
The renovations were complete in time for the Trues to host their first Thanksgiving at the cabin last year. Every detail, from the menu to the table setting, was considered and filled with sentimental family heirlooms.
The table was dressed with vintage napkins that belonged to Cadey True’s grandmother Elsie Heaton, monogrammed in an unexpected teal, providing an unexpected pop of color. The goblets and napkin rings are part of a collection True is working on, acquiring more for holiday celebrations.
“The Herend tureen and plates were some of my parents’ wedding gifts. My mom let me borrow those,” Cadey True adds, noting that the turkey-carving platter they used was one of her own wedding gifts.
Cadey True has learned much about entertaining from having her mother, Chris, as a lifelong example—and one of the main takeaways is to use your beautiful things! The table was set with silver, a special nod to Chris’s tradition of always using her silver at gatherings, something Cadey True has enjoyed carrying on her own as she hosts her own celebrations.
A stunning arrangement of fall hues nestled in the beautiful tureen was designed by special friends Erick New and Greg Campbell at Garden District in Memphis. The pair has helped the Heaton family with many celebrations over the years.
On the menu was the popular Heaton’s Pecan Pie, of course, as well as cookies from a recipe in the Blackberry Farm cookbook. “It was our first Thanksgiving at Burke’s, and it was so sweet having everyone out there,” she says.
Sharing a family tradition of hunting for four-leaf clovers, which, once found, are saved in a memory book that stays at the cabin, Cadey True emphasizes that whether they are spending time in the woods, in the kitchen, or just out in the yard, their home away from home will be a special place for their family for many years to come!