By Emma Kent
When friends visit Leslie and Pat Coleman’s Oxford home, they often assume the couple bought a turn-of-the-century farmhouse and renovated it.
“That was the biggest compliment,” Leslie said. “There’s something about just feeling a sense of history in a place.”
But in reality, the Colemans’ home was just built. It’s Leslie’s attention to detail that gives the house its historic charm.
The Colemans bought 150 acres of land just outside of Oxford 27 years ago with the hope of one day building their dream home on it. In December 2016, they decided to go after their dream, making the move from Madison to Oxford.
There was actually once a farmhouse on the land, which the Colemans call “Oak Grove Farm,” not too far from where Leslie and Pat’s home now sits. They paid homage to that old farmhouse in building their new one.
Leslie researched the original structure, aiming to stay true to the farm’s history in her design plans.
“Our purpose in building a home like this was to build a home that looked like it could have been original to the farm,” she said.
The home is full of nods to the farm’s history. A ceiling fan in Pat’s study is a replica of one of the first ceiling fans ever, which would have been made around the time the original farmhouse was built.
“Most of the light fixtures are antique or made to look antique,” Leslie said.
The floors are reclaimed oak, and the ceilings are bead board, both of which were materials commonly used in the early 1900s. Everything is made from real wood, and all of the doors in the house feature antique hardware.
Subway tile, 1920’s-inspired patterned ceramic floor tiles, antique dressers-turned-vanities and quartz countertops make the kitchen and bathrooms feel modern yet timeless.
Some details weren’t the easiest to execute, like the home’s curved front porch, but Leslie credits their contractor Mickey Babb for being patient and finding a way to bring her ideas to life.
“Not many people are on good terms with their builder when the project is finished, but he got my vision,” she said. “I wanted it to look like the home evolved over time.”
That history element is also at play in the furniture and decor, a lot of which Leslie has been collecting over the years.
“Some of it I had and I didn’t want to get rid of,” she said, pointing to one piece in particular – a dresser that now sits in the living room, passed down from her great grandparents. It was built in the 1700s and used to be in the hotel her great grandparents owned in Virginia.
There’s also a gallery wall in the master bedroom, which Leslie refers to as her “genealogy wall,” made up of collected photographs of her ancestors.
Many of the home’s rooms are designed around a single piece of furniture or antique accent – like a pair of pocket doors that lead into Pat’s study.
“We kind of designed the study around the doors,” Leslie said.
The house has been a labor of love for Leslie. She had a draftsman create the house plan, but she drew floor plans and made all of the design choices with the help of her husband.
“I knew how we live and what we would use our spaces for, so I designed the house around the way we live,” she said. “Everything was designed function-first. Once I got the function and layout down, then I could move on to the aesthetics.”
Leslie even ensured that the house was situated so that each window has a beautiful view of the farm’s fields, trees, gardens and chicken coop.
The project began in December 2016 and took around 18 months altogether. While the house was being built, the Colemans stayed in a cabin they built on the land back in 1997.
They also ended up adding a rental unit to the farmhouse. It’s connected to the main house but has its own private entrance, kitchenette and bathroom. Leslie said they plan to rent it out on Airbnb, but for now, it serves as extra space when her adult children or other friends and family visit.
“My kids love it,” Leslie said. “When they come here they call it a ‘farm-cation.’”
The Colemans moved in right before Thanksgiving 2017 and hosted their entire family for the holiday, immediately putting their brand new kitchen to the test.
“We had 20 people here, and everyone had a spot to work,” Coleman said. “I thought, ‘We did this right.’”
The farmhouse is a family home. With that in mind, Leslie was careful to factor in dogs, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. They share the home with Molly Jane, a 13-year-old yellow lab, and Elmo, a 20-year-old rescue pup.
She wanted the house to have a “put your feet up” feeling, even with all of the antique elements.
“I wanted it to look like real people live here,” she said.