A Classically Modern Highland Circle Home

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By Emma Kent // Photos by Lauren Wood

When George and Lori Jones decided to move their family back home to Tupelo, they had two requirements when house-hunting for a new home: A downtown location and plenty of space for their kids. Their historic home in Highland Circle checks those boxes and more.

George and Lori Jones’ house may appear traditional from the outside, but they’ve found a way to marry its 1920s bones with their modern style. They bought their Highland Circle home last summer and moved in mid-July.

The Joneses have spent the last 17 years living in Nashville, but when they found out they would be having a fourth child, they decided to return to Tupelo — Lori’s hometown — to be close to family.

With four kids, they knew they needed space, but they also wanted to be close to downtown Tupelo. So when the Highland Circle house came up for sale, and it ticked both of those boxes, they were sold. It was an added bonus that the home came with a wealth of charming original features and character: picture moldings, original wood floors, large windows, built-in shelving and cabinets and other architectural details. There are also two fireplaces, one in the living room and one in the dining room.

“The thing we liked about the house is that it had great bones,” Lori said. “It would be really hard to find those things in a newer home.”

The house was built in 1928.

The built-ins in the dining room are home to a collection of art, prints and photos.

Lori said they really lucked out in finding a home that fit their needs, had a good location and didn’t need a lot of work. When they moved in, the house was in good shape and had been updated recently, but the color scheme was very brown — not their personal style.

“We painted every square inch of it white,” George said. “Everything was super nice, but it just wasn’t us.”

The only space in the house that hasn’t been painted white is a dark green downstairs hallway.

“Painting it made a huge difference and made it feel more modern,” Lori said.

They’re happy with the house as it is now, but Lori said there are definitely things they’d like to change some day, like remodeling and reconfiguring the bathrooms. There’s also a shop in the backyard they’d like to convert into a guest house.

The second project on their list was to replace all of the traditional light fixtures with fixtures that felt more contemporary. Their approach has been not to try to make the house something it’s not, but to combine the traditional style of the home with their personal style preference, which leans a little more mid-century. They’ve been able to achieve that happy medium through furniture and decor.

They’ve furnished the house accordingly with low, modern leather couches in the living room, Eames-style chairs in the dining room and breakfast nook and other simple pieces with straight lines. A large walnut mirror over the fireplace and built-ins in the dining room give the space a mid-century feel.

Mixed in with those pieces are a lot of secondhand and sentimental pieces of furniture, giving the house a cozy, collected feeling. A leather couch in the office was George’s parents in the ‘60s, and it’s been with George and Lori since they got married. They love that it’s small and doesn’t overpower the room.

“We love it,” Lori said. “I think that’s one thing we’ve learned is that getting the scale right matters.”

A leather armchair that matches the vintage couch now sits in the living room.

The Joneses have tried to keep the decor minimal but personal. The couple’s collection of art and framed photos bring their personality to the space. Pieces of framed art and photos fill the shallow built-in shelves cabinets that flank each side of the dining room fireplace. 

Although she didn’t intend to use the cabinets to display art, Lori said she actually likes the way all of the pieces look in the cabinets together. When she was unpacking after the move, she just put all of them in and above the cabinets to get them out of the way and they’ve ended up staying there.

“That was kind of a happy accident,” Lori said. “I ended up loving having pictures everywhere.”

The first piece of art the Joneses purchased as a couple was this custom portrait of their dog.

The first piece of art they bought was a painting of their dog on a large piece of old wood. It was such a splurge at the time, but Lori said it’s still their favorite piece in the house.

“It’s been one of our favorite pieces of art we’ve bought,” she said.

A painting of a colorful tree above the living room fireplace is another favorite piece. They admired it at a Nashville coffee shop they frequented and were disappointed to hear that it sold one day. Later, they got in touch with the artist, who was planning to do another series of similar pieces, and purchased their own.

George said they’re hoping to invest in more art in the future. With 10-foot ceilings, there’s plenty of wall space for more. The high ceilings also make the house feel open and airy. 

For an older home, the rooms flow well from the front living room through the kitchen and back to the den. The layout helps George and Lori easily keep an eye on their kids, even if they’re in a different room. The back part of the house was added later and is now used as a second living space and houses kids’ rooms.

“I never really thought I needed two living spaces, but that’s been really nice,” Lori said.

With four kids the Joneses try to keep their house clutter-free but comfortable. The white walls and simple furniture help make the space feel less chaotic, even when life gets hectic. It’s not perfect, but to them, it’s home.

“Our home is lived-in, but we have four kids, so that’s how it’s supposed to be,” George said.

 

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