Doors of Hope: The Perkins Home

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by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace

When Doors of Hope first approached Jessica Perkins and asked to feature her home in the Christmas home tour, at first she declined. She said she prefers to keep her and her family more private, and opening her home would seem to negate that; plus, she wasn’t planning to decorate too much because her family would be spending Christmas in the Bahamas. Naturally, she had a few reservations. But she mulled it over for a little while, and agreed.

“You know, it’s really for a good cause, because it really is, it supports so many in our community that I just couldn’t not do it,” she said.

In the process of preparing for the open house, Perkins became very excited to decorate. Not only was she pulling out her family’s staples — like her signature Christmas tree — but she was adding to the décor, in part, for her five-year-old daughter Anne Hayden.

“This little girl we had late in life has just made everything so much more fun again,” she said. “Because she’s excited about the holidays, and she’s excited about decorating.”

In fact, their main tree, which is a live, giant tree under the 11-foot ceilings in the foyer where “everybody sees it,” came about because of her pregnancy with the youngest, which has sort of turned into a running joke among she and her friends. She was pregnant with her daughter, and wasn’t feeling well when she walked into Oxford Florals and saw a tree decorated in “all these real colorful, big, fat colored glass balls” with “all the different colors like pink, green, clear, different shades,” and told the employees, “‘I want all of those.’” And the rest is history. She pairs the Christmas balls with ribbons, like a velvety gray ribbon to pull the eye to the ornaments.

The Perkins’ house in Oxford — where she, her husband Dr. Hayden Perkins, daughter and two retrievers Penny and Poppy live — was once Dr. Wayne T. and Pat Lamar’s home (notable surgeon and Oxford’s first female mayor), which was built in 1842, with various add-ons over the year. The bones of the home have “traditional lines,” which Perkins tries to complement with her “colorful eclectic” style. Thanks to Anne Hayden, now that all three of her boys live elsewhere in Oxford while attending the University of Mississippi, Perkins has been able to play with even more color, especially during the Christmas season.

“With her, I’ve started, instead of doing all the reds and greens and everything, I’m doing the pinks and the turquoise,” she said, “and the glitter and everything like that, that maybe (the boys) wouldn’t have appreciated. I’m getting to go super girly, and (the boys) love it too, I mean they love their little sister so much. (She’s) the baby we never thought we would have, and the little sister they never thought they would have, and so we’re just kind of obsessed with making her a wonderland.”

And during the open house, she noticed the visitors picking up on the wonder of it all.

“I’ve noticed with people walking through that I didn’t know — people who know me probably know that’s my personality,” she laughed. “But they just kept saying, ‘This house is so happy,’ and it is the best compliment.”

But for Perkins, she’s happiest when her “whole crew” comes home over the holidays. One thing she said most people don’t realize is because they live in the same town her boys are attending college, and since they live on their own, they don’t come home for the whole month. They all come home for “at least one night” on Christmas Eve, but she joked that she likes to lure them home as much as she can during the season with their favorite foods, like “bacon and pancakes, every morning,” a family-favorite coconut cake, chocolate pecan pies.

Perkins is from New Orleans and her husband is from the Delta, so on Christmas Eve, the family sits down for red beans and rice, gumbo or her father-in-law’s shrimp boil, “the whole nine yards.” On Christmas morning, cinnamon rolls are a big staple, followed by a formal late lunch in the dining room, with the classics: turkey, dressing, spinach casserole, squash casserole — her favorite and her mother’s recipe — and, of course, cranberry sauce.

“I love cooking and I love making them everything that they love,” she said.

 

Read about Doors of Hope, or check out another home from the tour.

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