Photos by Michael Barrett
If interior design is the narrative of the home, then the story that is told in this home is one of modern family life. With a design sensibility that is both serene and calming, a Ridgeland couple has found the perfect place to raise their two children. This home in Bridgewater is ideal for their life.
The home is a labor of love and the result of years of planning and preparation. A commercial insurance executive, the man of the family purchased a modest home while still in college, and when he married a young nursing student, the couple began their lives together in the little home where they lived quite frugally, saving their money and dreaming of the home they wanted to live in together one day.
That day came this past fall when the couple moved into the home they built with the help of Dawn Thomas, a family friend and accomplished designer. “I worked with them from the time of the conception of the home through the final decorating,” Dawn says. “The homeowners had a good sense of what they wanted and they showed me pictures they had gathered together to help me in the design process.”
The couple actually interviewed several decorators before settling on Dawn, whose daughter was friends with the wife while growing up. “I think she knew she could trust me, and that I’d be very honest with her,” says Dawn.
There were many after-hours meetings at the Country Club of Jackson with Dawn and the couple, discussing ideas and plans, a process that took many months. “The name of my design firm is After Five Designs, because I work full time, and do my design work in the evenings,” explains Dawn. By day, Dawn is the office administrator for a medical practice. She’s been doing design work professionally since 2003. Architect Tim Taylor of Jackson designed the home to meet the needs of the family.
The home is situated on a corner lot, and the painted brick gives a sense of order to the classic design. Entering the home through the main entry hall, visitors are met with a calming palette of gray and taupe. On the main wall of the entry hall, Sumatra wallpaper made of crushed shells gives the wall a textured, shimmering effect that is at the same time elegant and inviting. The buffet lamps in the entry hall are by the John-Richard design team in Greenwood, a company formed in 1980 as a sideline business of Malouf Furniture.
Off the entry hall to the right is the large dining room with antique dining chairs upholstered in crisp white vinyl. “It looks like leather,” Dawn explains, “but it’s ideal for little ones, as it can simply be wiped clean if there’s a spill.”
The dining room opens into the kitchen, which is spacious and bright, featuring white cabinets with antiqued brass hardware in a thoroughly modern design. “By now, you’ve probably seen that we have a good balance of old and new mixed together in this home,” says Dawn as she gives a tour. The kitchen is anchored by a large marble-topped island flanked by four clear acrylic ghost bar stools on one end, illuminated by two large classic-style lanterns. “Most of the other light fixtures in the home are antiques,” Dawn interjects. A small white painted table and chairs against a side wall hints of the little girl of the house, who enjoys tea parties and coloring while her mom is busy in the kitchen. A modern design high chair is tucked into a side pantry, ready to pull out for a baby boy who is learning to eat solid food.
The family’s living area is warm and inviting, with a grand fireplace on the exterior wall that is stacked with concrete “fire balls” instead of fire wood, the flames lapping around them in a most hypnotizing way. Two concrete stools are placed in front of the fireplace, a perfect place to warm cold feet. A large contemporary painting adds muted color to the room while more John-Richard lamps adorned with shells cast a soft glow on the room from atop a sideboard.
There is an informal dining area just off the den which looks out into the covered back porch area. Heading down a small hallway, the tour continues. A large ornate mirror on the back wall adds the reflection of natural light before heading to the master bedroom area. Just outside the master bedroom, a wall of gold-framed family photographs forms a very personal montage. The bedroom is an ideal retreat for the busy couple. The master bath is sunny and bright, with a large soaking tub and spacious shower. Above the bathtub is an art piece of wood fragments from an old French monastery assembled by Aiden Gray. Juxtaposed with the antique wood is the slick mirrored hardware on the cabinets and drawers, which coordinate with the mirrored wall sconces that are mounted directly to the mirrors above each sink.
Heading out of the master bedroom, a glimpse of the formal living area reveals a fireplace with a large wooden fragment from Portugal above the mantel. “I wouldn’t let them see it before we put it up,” laughs Dawn. “It was kind of ugly propped up in my garage. But once we installed it on the wall, they loved it!” Opposite the fireplace is a large contemporary painting that Dawn points out. “I painted that -- I’m an artist, too,” she says. “I have a strong business doing dorm room designs, and I also work with a lot of young couples. They can’t always afford to spend a few thousand on fine art, so I started painting larger canvases they could use above a couch or anywhere a larger piece could be used at a price they can easily afford.”
On the other side of the home is the children’s wing. The girl’s room is fresh and feminine, with touches any little girl would love. The ensuite bath and walk-in closet are filled with all things pretty and pink. A fluffy white rug anchors her antique vanity, with a matching furry stool in front. The white bedding, monogrammed in pink, is sophisticated and cozy. In contrast to the crisp white is the colorful modern art which hangs in the room. In the baby boy’s room, four whimsical animal photographs stare down amusingly from above the crib. A monogrammed shower curtain conceals the bathtub in his bath. Across the hall from the children’s bedrooms is a small playroom where a play kitchen and other toys are stored.
At the top of the stairs, a large den area with mid-century modern furniture is the ideal spot to watch television and play board games. Four built-in bunk beds flank the back wall, which will no doubt be the perfect place for future slumber parties. A guest bedroom is located across the hall from the upstairs den.
Back downstairs, it’s apparent that the home is designed for entertaining as well. A butler’s pantry and bar off the kitchen also features an elegant silvery-gray Sumatra crushed shell wallpaper which sparkles with the light from the antique chandelier. A convenient hammered stainless steel sink is centered between two glass-front cabinets filled with barware for the next party. Above the sink is a Lucite framed Abby Price piece with more fragments that add additional texture to the room.
Each room of the home flows seamlessly into the next, with design touches that connect one room to another. And while it is all beautifully, flawlessly designed, the home is quite comfortable and practical for a modern-day family. “I’ve done a lot of design work in my career,” says Dawn. “But I consider this home to be my masterpiece. I love my own little house, but after being in here all day, I have to admit, it’s hard to go home. I have loved working with this wonderful couple, and I love everything about this home.”