Photos by Michael Barrett
Some special spaces radiate the personality of those that call them home. When you meet designer Mary Sanders Ferris, you’re likely to notice her vibrancy, laid-back vibe, and playfulness. When you step foot into her home, you’ll certainly be struck by those very same traits. Mary Sanders’ Fondren home is funky kitsch done right.
In 1950, architect John W. “Jack” Staats, fresh out of architecture school, designed and built the mid-century modern home for his in-laws. “It stayed in their family until I bought it,” says Mary Sanders. The home’s mid-century characteristics were not something that Mary Sanders was initially after. “After living in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, I find myself naturally gravitating toward ornate millwork and tall ceilings. When mid-century came back on the scene, I didn’t necessarily love it. But, I’ve really embraced it.”
When the vacant Fondren home came on the market, Mary Sanders got a call from a friend who lived across the street who told her the home “looked just like me.” Mary Sanders was out of town, so she sent her realtor mother to take a first look. “It was an old house with some issues, so she thought it wouldn’t be wise at first,” explains Mary Sanders. “When I got back to Jackson, I drove by and on first glance, I just really, really loved this house. I don’t even know how to explain it, it just felt right.”
Luckily, Jack Staats knew what he was doing when he designed the home. The house, which hadn’t been updated since it was built, featured energy efficient fixtures, plaster walls, and a perfect layout. “It really was like the house was built just for me, long before I was even born,” she laughs. “I always thought that one day, I would design my own house. But here, I felt it was made for me, and I only had to do cosmetic changes.”
With collections of different sorts – from brass candlesticks to vintage china - in every nook and cranny and distinctive antiques around every corner, the home’s clean lines are jazzed up a bit by Mary Sanders’ eclectic style. The interior of the house was given a wash of white paint and the parquet floors were refinished, giving the home a fresh and clean rebirth.
The home’s kitchen oozes charm and character. Mary Sanders kept the home’s mid-century modern Kitchen Maid cabinets, but replaced their mustard color with white to modernize them a bit. But, she kept some very vintage pink accents and original oak paneling. “I loved the idea of black and white with accents of pink,” says Mary Sanders. “So I found this Rifle Paper wallpaper from Hygge and West to create that look.” The breakfast area’s shining star is a lucite light fixture from a local flea market. The kitchen is topped off with sleek concrete countertops by Andy Hilton. “I felt like the countertops would help to ground the glam a bit.”
The two bathrooms in the home have also managed to hold on to their vintage allure. Mary Sanders once again used bright and funky wallpaper to perfectly complement the bathrooms’ original tile, which is quintessentially mid-century modern, keeping the home’s roots intact. Mary Sanders’ bedroom is like stumbling upon a jewel box, with its moody blue hue and variously-colored treasures.
You know you’ve done something right when your home feels like you, and Mary Sanders hit the nail on the head. “Sometimes people come in and think it feels like a grandma’s house or like it may just give them an anxiety attack, but it’s all of my favorite things in one place,” she says. “I do just love this house.”