Simple, Clean, Classic: The Smith Home

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by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace

Courtney and Thomas Smith met while they were both attending Mississippi College, and married right after graduation. Once Courtney finished nursing school, and Thomas completed med school and his residency in Jackson, they moved to Madison for a stint until Thomas took a job in Oxford as an ER physician. 

“I’ve come up here for games and everything ever since being in college,” he said. “So (Oxford) was not anything unusual for us.”

When they started looking for a house, Courtney said, “We just kind of fell in love with this area.” 

The couple found their eventual home just in time, as a construction crew was tearing down the house that used to be on the lot the Smiths are on now, and had plans for a rebuild. 

“Before they started demolishing,” Thomas said, “We worked with plans and kind of figured out what’s good for us, and started working from there.”

The new build was finished in the summer of 2019, and the couple, along with their two sons, now seven and 11 years old, and beloved Great Bernese Mountain dog, Rebel, started making it their own. 

“One of my main things was I wanted it to be livable, with two wild boys and a furry animal,” Courtney said. “We’re just livable and comfy and homey.”

With Thomas’ busy schedule in the ER – usually four days on, four days off – Courtney wanted to make sure their house was always welcoming.

“It’s a very high intensity job,” she said. “So that was important, just kind of having a happy place to come home to.”

Their home’s style is classic and clean, with interior archways serving as focal points, leading in and out of the kitchen and dining room, and a brick archway going into a seating area with a breakfast nook. 

“(With) the kitchen, I was pretty adamant about what I wanted. I just kind of knew,” Courtney said. “I just feel like everybody always ends up in the kitchen.”

Knowing the kitchen would serve as the meeting grounds for family and guests alike, they wanted a very large kitchen island where everyone could congregate.

“I just kind of pictured our friends and family all being around the island, which is exactly what happens,” she said. “Now, everybody just stands around the island and eats and chats.”

The island goes beyond food, too; Courtney said it has served their family perfectly for “a lot of puzzles during quarantine” this past year. The couple said one of their favorite more-mundane activities together is sharing a morning coffee over the weekend, usually while the boys are still asleep, with all their calendars and schedules laid out before them, as they “figure out life together.” Thomas’ work schedule and a smattering of the boys’ football, soccer and baseball games, family hunting and fishing trips, friends visiting during football season, and anything in between.

Aside from the island, the couple knew there were a few things that would be essential for the family’s kitchen: Plenty of storage space and well thought out functionality.

The hidden trash-can drawer beside the oversized sink, the dishwasher on the other side, the refrigerator nearby and a pot filler above the range, which is across the island, opposite the kitchen sink. 

“The pot filler is my friend,” Courtney added with a laugh.

“My pantry, that was a huge deal for me. I needed a big walk-in pantry with plenty of room for snacks,” Courtney said. “When I’m stressed, I like to pull everything out and start from fresh, and Thomas just comes in and is like, ‘Oh my.’ But it just makes me feel better to have everything in its place.”

In their pantry, they store all their smaller appliances, from the coffee maker and blender, to the toaster and slow cooker, “It all stays in there,” she added. 

“A well organized pantry just seems to make life easier,” she said, laughing.

The kitchen’s countertops are kept bare, too; keeping everything simple and clean, save for a few cookbooks. For the most part, the couple just throws things together when they cook, or they revert to hand-written notes and recipes from their family. Courtney said they both come from families where the cooks would use “a dash of this and that, and it just somehow turns out wonderfully.”

The couple tends to tackle cooking together: Thomas will make the mains, and Courtney covers the sides. They tend to do a lot of grilling, vegetables, casseroles and southern classics. They grew up a few hours from New Orleans, and said they both usually took a few family trips each year, so they love Cajun food.

“We’ve done crawfish etouffee a few times,” Thomas said. “Crawfish enchiladas.”

“We just kind of wing it. (We) get a little creative, and of course our boys love just tacos, chicken nuggets,” she said laughing.

The couple agreed they make family dinner a priority, and usually sit down and eat together each night.

“We usually sit outside a lot and eat,” he added. “Up here’s more of an open time frame of eating outside in the fall, spring and early summer, as opposed to further down South it’s only a very limited window for eating outside, it’s too hot.”
They’ll also prepare any wild game they get from their time spent outdoors. From venison to turkey and fish.

When they have quiet weekends, they love to do a family “typical, big” breakfast on Saturdays, with pancakes, and both bacon and sausage, because one of the boys doesn’t like bacon.

“It’s just a good reset,” Courtney said. 

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