House Envy: This Chattahoochee Hills estate comes with a lake, horse barn, and riding arena

The 68-acre property is located less than a mile from the shops and restaurants at Serenbe

Leslie Becknell grew up in rural North Carolina where her family owned a cattle farm and she gained an appreciation for nature. So when tragedy struck 14 years ago—her husband died in a car accident—Leslie turned to the outdoors for solace, rekindling a love of horseback riding in the process. “You might say that I became a teeny bit obsessed,” she jokes. “There’s nothing in the world like a horse for therapy.”

Before long, Leslie’s two young children became interested in riding too, so much so that she decided to look for a farm where they could keep their horses and enjoy quiet weekends together. A friend had told her about Chattahoochee Hills, a small town in south Fulton County; so she decided to check it out. “It was love at first sight,” she says. “It was so hilly and beautiful. It reminded me of where I grew up.”

Leslie, an attorney at a downtown law firm, soon purchased a 68-acre farm located less than a mile from the shops, restaurants, and art galleries at Serenbe, a new urbanist community recognized for its progressive approach to blending lifestyle with nature. Leslie’s property came with a lake, pastures, a large horse barn, and a house. For a while, she and her children split their time between their homes in Buckhead and Chattahoochee Hills, but it soon became apparent where the family wanted to live. So Leslie took the plunge, selling her city residence and hiring Atlanta architect Greg Palmer to create a renovation plan for the farmhouse that included a new elevation as well as new floors, custom windows, spacious porches, and a saltwater pool.

The 5,800-square-foot European-style home features five bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a large family room, a formal dining room, a keeping room, and a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, custom cabinetry, and a spacious breakfast area. The finished terrace level has a kitchenette, lots of storage space, and a private in-law suite that opens to the patio and pool.

Then there’s the farm, which includes acres of hardwoods, a creek, and a 10-acre stocked lake. The equestrian facilities include a 12-stall barn with a bathroom and a well, hay barn, numerous paddocks, and lighted riding arena. There’s also a large professionally designed vegetable garden in the rear of the house.

The lake is one of Leslie’s favorite features. “It’s an old lake, so it’s very clear,” she says. “It’s always the most beautiful gray-blue color, especially in the setting sun.” She also appreciates the abundant wildlife on the property, which includes deer, bluebirds, cranes, hawks, herons, owls, woodpeckers, and even a bald eagle.

Although Leslie dearly loves her Chattahoochee Hills property, her children are now in college and she has decided to downsize. “I’m starting a new adventure as an empty nester,” she says, adding that she plans to stay in the area. “Living here has been the most wonderful experience. I don’t think I could ever live in a big city again.”

This Chattahoochee Hills estate, located at 8655 Sardis Road, is listed for $1,495,000. For more information, contact Sandra Storrar of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty at 404-310-3558 or