Meet Matt and Kara Christensen of Garden Gate Homes.
College sweethearts. Happily married. Great jobs. Three beautiful kids… but what seemed to be the American dream suddenly fell apart under financial and marital struggles. That is when their story met His story and God’s dream for them began...
Amidst these deep struggles back in 2005, God gave me a dream and I woke up with an acute awareness that we were supposed to move down south. Matt being a Chicago-area native and I from a small town outside of Detroit (and our exposure to the South limited only to the expressway going through it that takes you to Disney), well let’s just say my sweet husband was not convinced the dream was from God. But as time passed more dreams came and I finally found myself researching towns of the South on the internet. After falling in love with pictures of downtown Franklin, Tennessee I decided to book a weekend trip for our family in hopes that the trip would somehow be used by God to lead us where He wanted us to go. Knowing Matt was not at all convinced it was the right thing to do, I began to pray and ask God to show my husband Himself, rather than having it come from my elbow nudging. (Matt is 6’5” and a former linebacker so my elbows don't do much good anyway.)
And boy did God answer! Just days before making the trip, Matt got a call from a home builder he had worked for in previous years. The first thing the former boss said to him was, “Hey Matt, would you ever consider moving down to Franklin, Tennessee for a job?” And here we are!
It didn't seem like much of a plan that God had when after moving Matt was laid off in the housing recession in 2009. But again, we began to see the purpose in the timing. We had spent all our married years fixing up and selling our personal homes as extra income and discovered that we were both gifted in it — Matt in managing one-of-a-kind homes and I in the design of them. So, we jumped out of our comfortable “weekly paycheck lifestyle" boat into the unknown waters of small business ownership. Garden Gate Homes, special one-of-a-kind homes in the heart of downtown Franklin, began!
Since then we have put our hearts and hard work into adding to the historical appeal and quaint aesthetics of this special town we have become a part of — one sweet home at a time. From “seeing” the initial vision and working with the architects, to searching for historic doors and vintage architectural pieces we can reuse in the design, to working with all the wonderful and talented men and women that make their contributions to the build, to completing the “art project” with styling for the open houses by scouring the local antique stores and boutiques (my favorite part!)… it’s a lot of hard work, but we’ve come to realize it’s so much more than that.
To us this isn't just a business, it’s personal. Whether we are restoring an old home or tearing down to build something new, we are dedicated to making special places for people in this community to come home to — to grow in, to rest in, to share love with their family in, to make memories in, to go through their own highs and lows of life in. Yes, it’s very personal. At Garden Gate Homes, we don't ever want to think we just build houses for people to buy, we want to always remember we create homes for our neighbors to experience life in.
And with God's grace, our story here in Franklin, Tennessee will continue!