By MARY-KATHRYN HERRINGTON • Photography by GREG CAMPBELL
Family treasures and casual comfort combine to bring a relaxed elegance to this Cleveland home
Filled with storied heirlooms and art passed down through generations from both sides of the family as well as pieces thoughtfully curated over time, this Cleveland cottage evokes a sense of charm and warmth. With the owner’s keen eye for design, these treasures have been gathered over the years and put together in a manner that leaves the home feeling current, intentional, and rich in history.
When the couple, who have deep family ties in old Delta towns, purchased the property over twenty-five years ago, the home had only had one previous owner. Built in the 1920s, the craftsman cottage was a wedding gift from the original owner’s parents; she lived there until she passed away at the age of 103.
When the current owners bought the home, it had not been touched since 1958. They soon began making changes to better suit their growing family. An initial renovation to update the home made the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home workable for them for a time, but as their family grew, so did their need for more space.
“Eventually we had five people, including three children, in the home and limited living space. We decided it was time to add a master bedroom, expand the den, and open up and update the kitchen. We also added a screened porch,” the wife says, noting that a screened porch in the Delta is always a good idea, and it has easily become one of their favorite spots.
The owners knew immediately who they wanted to lead the project. They called in their friend, Delta native, and one of Mississippi’s most renowned home designers, Frank Tindall to bring his vision to the renovation. The project, which was completed nearly two decades ago, is so timeless one might easily think it was completed in recent years. The home is spacious and has a casually elegant feel which perfectly reflects the owners’ tastes.
As in many homes, the kitchen is the heart of the home for this Cleveland couple, both of whom love to cook. During their renovation, the galley kitchen was opened up to the existing living space, making it a comfortable spot for gathering. The island features warm wood tones and was recently updated with a new slab of Carrera marble. Other recent updates include the addition of a classic subway tile backsplash, the addition of modern brushed gold light fixtures, and a fresh coat of the signature gray-green paint (Rosemary Gray by Devoe, originally chosen nearly twenty years ago) on the ceiling-height perimeter cabinets. The space opens onto both a casual dining/den area and to the original dining room, providing excellent flow to the floor plan and giving the home a more modern open-concept feel, while still holding tight to its traditional bones.
In the casual living space, vertically paneled walls painted White Muslin by Sherwin Williams bring interest to the room. The far end is anchored by a beautiful but simple fireplace with a dark slate surround, adding a touch of drama. The painting above the fireplace was inherited from the owner’s mother but looks as if it could have been created specifically for the space. “My mom had that commissioned. There was a little bridge in a bayou in Benoit, where her mother, my grandmother, grew up, and she had always remembered it,” she says. Jackson artist Carl Guess captured the memory of the Delta scene in warm, earthy tones. On the walls flanking the fireplace are two other beautiful paintings by the late Delta artist Sheila Gourlay. These paintings hang over a unique carved table and a beautiful painted antique chest—perfect examples of the collected and curated furnishings that fill the home.
The casual dining area, adjacent to the kitchen, is home to one of their most special pieces of furniture—a custom farm table built by the husband. Clean, simple lines let the over one-hundred-year-old sweetgum wood really stand out while providing the perfect gathering spot for family meals. “My husband built our table for me fifteen years ago, and in many ways it is the centerpiece of our home. I wanted it to be rustic, so I love all the imperfections in the wood. When he gets time to do it, he really enjoys woodworking,” she says.
All of home’s furnishings feel well suited to its lengthy history. “There are very few pieces we’ve ever bought. Most of what we have was given to us by our parents and grandparents. Really and truly—we grew up with most of this furniture,” the homeowner explains.
However, being an avid collector with a keen eye, the homeowner has carefully chosen art, antiques, and other sundries over the years to add to the many family pieces that fill her home. Many of the rugs and other unique items in the home were found at estate sales. It’s something of a hobby for her. “The Delta has great estate sales. I think it is because people in the Delta have such great style!” Several of the large antique rugs in home, which bring color and richness, were found at estate sales. She also likes to layer the smaller rugs over natural fiber rugs, bringing a more casual and modern look.
What’s old can be made new again, and this couple understands the art of reimagining and updating beloved items that need a refresh. “I have had so many things recovered—I encourage everyone to have your old furniture reupholstered!” she exclaims.” she exclaims. Their interior designer and friend, Judy Wilson of Cleveland, is who they turn to for help sourcing fabrics and making sure their space feels updated. “Judy helps me a lot; I get all my fabrics from her. She is just a great source and has a great sense of style.”
The vintage wingback chair in the more formal living room was recently reupholstered by Wilson in a geometric cut velvet pattern and is a great example of how modern fabrics and patterns can easily elevate an older piece.
Although she’s usually working with what she already owns, the owner believes it never hurts to bring in a fresh set of eyes to help with your space. This is where Wilson excels. “Judy is a great person to call—I like to change out our accessories for the different seasons and always call Judy to help me. She can come over and ‘fluff’ your house for you, often with what you already have. It’s always a good idea to have a second opinion, with fresh ideas of how to arrange or edit accessories. I love to do it myself, but it never hurts to have someone else come in,” she says.
And every now and then bringing in the right new items like lamps or a more modern table can help the space feel current. “I bought two new end tables and two lamps about four years ago when my mother passed away and had brought in a lot of her things. I realized I needed to have something more modern to go with all of those pieces.” She noted these purchases were some of the only ones she’s made at an actual furniture store over the years!
With the recent influx of heirloom treasures, their grown daughter’s bedroom was recently redecorated. The walls and ceiling were both painted Odessa Pink by Benjamin Moore, a subtle shade providing the perfect backdrop for the antique poster bed and other pieces that were brought in. Upon entering the room, the eye is immediately drawn to the antique crystal pendant chandelier which also hung in the childhood bedroom of the husband’s mother. Above the bed hangs a rarely seen watercolor of an iris by artist Bill Dunlap. An antique concrete garden table is an unexpected addition under the large windows, and new white lamps and a custom skirted night table add the finishing touches to the unique mix.
The master bedroom is an oasis of light, with pale blue walls, an imposing poster bed, and lush custom monogrammed bedding. The high ceilings easily accommodate the stunning antique pier mirror, which hangs above an antique bow-front chest of drawers. The adjacent master bathroom is also filled with family treasures such as pair of heirloom gold leaf mirrors, a family portrait, and tole tray, which creates an interesting gallery effect over the marble vanity.
Filled with generations of collected items put together in a beautiful and meaningful way, this Cleveland cottage is a treasured gathering spot for this family and their friends for holidays and special times, and will be for years to come.