A Private Paradise

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By Caleb Bedillion
Photos by Lindsay Pace Daffron

Turn off the highway, go up a patched-over county road in northeast Monroe County, out past the soybean fields, keep going, and then, down a gravel drive screened by the young oak growth, with the bigger trees out behind. That’s where you’ll find it.

Earl and Jan Rogers call it “the country.” They have spent two years building a tidy getaway nestled on about 200 acres, much of it family land held through a couple generations now.

The place offers a welcome respite from hectic schedules and long commutes.

“We have 12-hour days pretty much Monday through Friday,” Earl said. “We’ll come down here on a Friday night, and a pretty good weekend is if the cars don’t move.”

The couple have a more full-time residence in the stately Tupelo neighborhood of Belledeer, but take every chance they can to leave the “city house” behind, even if just for an evening of cozy cabin life.

“If we decide to come down a night, it’s not like a trip, but it’s far enough you feel like you’ve gotten away,” Earl said.

Earl works as chief operations officer of Mississippi Polymer in Corinth. Jan is a reading specialist and travels across north Mississippi working with school districts.

Married eight years now, Earl and Jan built and filled the little home in the woods with local materials, custom craftsmanship and with art, furniture and treasures collected across their lives.

“There was just a certain element we wanted, and you had to go find it,” Jan said. “You couldn’t just go to a store and find what we wanted.”

Off the gravel drive, a stone path takes you up onto an L-porch that wraps around the dogtrot-inspired home, sided in durable Hardie board. Out here, Jan planted shade-loving hostas all around, and hung a swing that belonged to her grandfather.

Walk inside, and your eyes go up. The combined kitchen/living space is crowned by a vaulted ceiling paneled with scarred wood, soaked with history and salvaged from the former Tupelo Compress by the Guntown-based Vintage Flooring & Furniture.

The mantle over the stone-clad fireplace is a beam from a barn, the old mortise and tenon joints still visible. The kitchen is laid out galley style. A custom-built cabinet houses an apron front sink and granite counters. Opposite, a chest of drawers converted into an island features a hickory counter fashioned by Woodwork Kings in Tupelo. The interior walls are finished throughout in shiplap, sourced from Corinth, and left unpainted and unstained.

“It’s a blend of reclaimed and new,” Earl said.

The home also features a different blending. Earl prefers an aesthetic that’s a bit rougher-hewn, even raw. Jan has a softer style.

What they worked out is something like farm-house style crossed with a log cabin, or maybe a hunting lodge.

“I like natural elements, and, of course, he loves that,” Jan said. “It’s still pretty rustic, but it’s got some good classic style to it.”

Jan had a freer hand with the décor.

“She knows what I like, but all the decorating is hers,” Earl said.

Like the structure itself, the interior is a patchwork of antiques, second-hand pieces and heirlooms discovered at flea markets, junk shops and antiques stores across the region.

“We are back-road travelers,” Jan said. “We like small town and little local shops. To me that is where you find the most rewarding things.”

Call it an occupational hazard – Jan has an upstairs booth in the popular Tupelo antiques mall, Relics. Sometimes, a lingering item in the booth might just find its way out to the country with Jan.

The home does not sprawl. Behind the main living area is a bedroom, a bathroom and a laundry.

Space is used efficiently throughout. The kitchen island can pull double duty as a dining table. An apartment-sized stove is just big enough. There isn’t a dishwasher. Pocket doors are used instead of swinging doors.

There are no closets in the house, either. Whether in the kitchen or the bedroom, storage comes from furniture pieces, a tactic Jan decided to deploy after a trip to Mount Vernon, the historic home of George Washington.

A detached bunkhouse does offer a few extra beds and an additional bathroom for guests. That accommodates family and a few other visitors here and there.

But first and foremost, the home is a private hideaway to rest, recharge and be together.

“We do entertain a little, but not much,” Earl said. “Mostly, it’s just us.”

 

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