“It’s a perfect day,” Kristi Bubrig says as we walk side by side on the gravel driveway. “It is amazingly wonderful,” I agree. It is early September when I meet up with Kristi. Our local area is experiencing what we southerners call “false fall.” “False fall” appears in late August and early September bringing in cooler temperatures and enough wind to blow the still-green leaves off all the trees. Try as it may, we know not to breathe a genuine sigh of relief until mid-October; however, we do deeply savor the breeze. I eagerly trail behind Kristi as we head toward one of her properties. I have been to this space before and am eager to return to gather the entire backstory.
Let’s Back Up
I met Kristi in the spring of 2020. My husband knew the Bubrig family through his work and spoke so highly of them and the beautiful venues they designed that I jumped at the opportunity to visit as soon as the calendar allowed.
You see, quietly tucked behind a neighborhood in North Georgia, resides a magical world. A world with which I possessed little familiarity. On this private 40-acre location, the Bubrigs own and manage the most charming Airbnbs, a couple of which are Harry Potter-themed. Their surrounding property offers Hagrid’s Hut and a Harry Potter House, beautifully crafted and designed with accuracy in mind.
Here, my family and I spent a rainy weekend lounging around the Potter living room, watching movies, sleeping in a Hogwart’s style dorm room, and participating in a Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt.
It was one of the better weekends to come out of 2020. Yet, as we sat and watched the first three Harry Potter movies, my eyes kept wandering over to the gorgeous tapestries that hung on the walls, the chaise lounges draped in vintage fabrics and linens, and the copper pots that hung from a basket clad wooden beam in the kitchen. These items would bring me back months later as I wanted to know the stories behind the curated treasures filling these unique spaces.
The day of the tour, Kristi decides that we should begin with the newly constructed Hagrid’s Hut. A giant cauldron sits outside full of wood and awaiting the next guests. I smile and point at the kettle. She reads my mind, “an estate sale,” she says and unlocks the door.
Once inside, I cannot keep my mouth from falling open in awe. From the rustic chandeliers and fixtures, the cast iron pots that hang over the fire, and the oversized handcrafted chair in the corner, each element aids in creating the illusion of another world. A simple brown overcoat and scarf hang on the wall, which leads one to believe that the Keeper of Key’s is just nearby, perhaps walking in the forbidden forest just down the road.
I stand in the center of the room as I try to take in every aspect. I look up, and Kristy follows my gaze and addresses the object that has captured my immediate attention. “Oh, so you see Haggrid’s broom right there? I made that. I bought one piece at Southeastern Salvage, and then I found this main broom piece at a yard sale.” And I kept looking at it and looking at it, and then it hit me, and I said, “Broomstick!” So we put it all together for a Hagrid-sized broom.”
She points up to the sizeable broomstick hanging from the ceiling’s wooden beam, intricately held into place by chains. Wrapped around the end of the broom are LED lights that flicker in the dim room, adding to its enchanting appeal. A Hagrid Sized Broom, the large cape and scarf, and a giant cauldron out front, all special touches that, when banded together, produce quite a memorable experience for any guest.
The Mammoth Door
We exit the hut, and as I turn to shut the door behind me, the full scope and scale of the door make me step back to take a closer look. “Where in the world did you get this mammoth of a door? My upper body strength is failing me! I can barely open it.” I laugh and continue to tug at the raw hand-hewn door that adds a lovely natural, unfinished element.
She smiles and again responds with, “We made it. We bought a bunch of hand-milled lumber, and in that pile, there were a few good-sized boards that we used to make this main door, and the bathroom and the closet doors as well.”
I witness a trend here. The vision for each of these unique getaways has become so clearly defined that Kristy and her team spot usefulness and art where one may only see a pile of scrap lumber.
The Potter House
Kristy and I stroll up the short path to the Harry Potter house, continuing to enjoy the light conversation and breeze as we walk. Kristy owns and operates a few businesses, so I know her day holds more pressing matters than granting me a tour. Yet, she generously gives her time without a sense of rush or hurry, and I note that this generous spirit that gifted me this tour also constructed this world for others to enjoy. A world that was initially her daughter’s idea.
Entering through the front door, I ask, “So do people know what you have going on out here?” We take a seat in the living room before she answers, “Well, I have bought things from several people locally, and then when I tell them what I am doing, they always say, ‘Oh wait! I have something that might work.’ One specific example is the rope hanging in Hagrid’s. I bought a few tools from this man in Ooltewah, and he said, ‘I have this rope, and you need it.’ And I did need it, so he sold it to me, but it was so sweet because he thought of it independently and knew we could use the rope in this space. I thought that was cool.”
Even though our friendship is newly discovered, we sit and visit with the familiarity of two friends who share a rich history. We talk of life, children, and dreams, some dreams that have come to fruition and some that haven’t and the lessons they yielded. As we talk, I point to a variety of displayed items and discover that Kristi and her team bought many of them at estate and yard sales. Mixed in with the purchased relics are antiques and heirlooms passed down from her husband’s mother.
My phone vibrates on my lap, and I look down to see that I must leave soon to secure my spot in the school pick-up line. She sees me check my phone, and we both nod, realizing that it’s time to go.
I recognize my reluctance to end this visit as I gather my bag. There is such beauty in forging new adult friendships. As a busy mother, developing these relationships does not occur frequently. However, they are as precious as each curated treasure displayed in these homes, and I make a mental note to make time to cultivate more of them.
I smile at Kristi as we head towards the front door of the Potter house. I stop, look up and ask my final question, “Ok, tell me about the Copper Pots.”
Kristi starts, “Oh those, those came back in my suitcase from England.” And with that, I lean back against the kitchen table and listen as my new friend tells the entire story behind the copper pots. Carline can wait just a little longer.