Old World Chic
Merging the old and the new, French country meets functionality in this 2012 VESTA home designed by Eric Triche.
Story by Lindsee Gentry | Photos by Jason Terrell
Sara and Randy Swindle's Hernando, Mississippi homestead is the epitome of eclectic and and resourceful styling. Situated on 6.3 acres of rolling, grassy knolls, the Swindles' home combines a little of the old, a little of the new, and a lot of personal historic touches that tie the family to its deep DeSoto County roots.
The family bought the home, along with the accompanying land and barn, in order to fulfill one of their daughters’ dreams of being a successful equestrian. The original house was built in 1985 and it served as good bones for adding on square footage and redesigning the layout of the home to best suit the Swindles' needs. "We wanted a home that could have been there for 100 years," explained Sara. "We wanted something timeless but simple, so we went with the farmhouse style."
The renovation took seven months in 2011, morphing the standard country home into a custom-built family oasis. Sara, who does interior design for a living, helping people repurpose and revise their living spaces, actually drew out the layout she wanted for the house on graph paper. She then turned over what she called her "old school" drawing to the pros to make it "official." Her brother, Haley McIngvale, and his company Green Leaf Construction served as the builder on the project, and Stephen Skinner of Memphis' UrbanArch Associates PC was the designer.
"The existing home had no cohesive design theme, was run down, and sat on a corner lot facing south. With a little innovative design and planning, we were able to reorient the home’s front elevation so that it would face east and engage the corner more effectively," explained Skinner. "My primary objective was to develop a design solution that would effectively reflect the owner’s personality on the outside and programmatic needs on the inside. I am thankful that the owners had the insight and fortitude to look beyond the home's existing limitations and reach for its greater potential."
The architecture of the home isn't the only expert combination of old and new; Sara took care to include relics from her family's homes and history, as well. Sara grew up in a house on the historic Hernando square, which was built by her great grandmother, Ethel Brewer McIngvale, in 1929. Those familiar with the area now know the site as the location of the DeSoto County administration building on the southwest corner of the square on Losher Street. The city bought the property from the family in 1992 and the home was torn down. Some of the many items Sara gladly salvaged from her childhood home were the thick, sturdy, antique doors, which now are the doors in her remodeled home. Her grandfather, Herbert McIngvale, who is the namesake for the main drag of McIngvale Road in Hernando, owned the first grocery store in town and later had a little clock shop on the west side of the square. And now, Sara is very thankful to also be able to incorporate a large number of those antique and collectible timepieces into her home's design.
She also took care to design specific areas in the home for certain special pieces. For example, she drew a little nook into the design to fit her grandfather's antique shaving stand. She loved the nostalgia of the piece so much and she wanted to be sure it had a home in their new home. Sara also was able to incorporate a sentimental piece directly into the heart of her home — the kitchen. The kitchen island began as her Great Grandmother Crawford's sideboard, and they added custom cabinets and a top to increase the functionality. "I love it because it's great storage but it also has a story," said Sara.
But it's not just family heirlooms that Sara transformed into special pieces for her home. She is a self-proclaimed "deal-seeker" and she loves to repurpose pieces that have been tossed out or are unwanted. "It doesn't have to be expensive," said Sara. "You don't have to spend a ton of money to have a nice home." Sara frequently buys pieces at Goodwill, junk shops or yard sales and transforms them into new pieces. She also buys inexpensive framed art at home decor stores and then paints over the art to match her own taste. "What you end up with is a piece of custom art that is already framed for about $30 - $40," she explained.
The house is full of pieces that have been transformed. A beautiful hutch stands in the Swindles' living room and you would never know its history by looking at it. Sara got the two pieces at a junk store for a very low price. The pieces didn't go together; the top piece had been in a fire and the bottom piece had water damage. Randy and Sara refinished and painted it about four times, added some fencepost tops from a hardware store for legs, and then got some help from Quality Cabinet in Hernando to do the drawer fronts. Now, the hutch stands proudly as a finished piece that looks like it was made that way. Accompanying the patchwork hutch in the living room is a coffee table she got from Goodwill for $6.99. She knew the old oak schoolhouse table would look great in the room; all she had to do was cut off the legs to make it fit the space.
Another table transformation that you have to see to believe is housed in the home's half bath. Sara's neighbor found a beautiful, antique, thick spindle-legged dining room table at an auction, and her trim vendor cut it in half, installed a sink and mounted it to the wall in the bathroom. It is certain that there is no other vanity like it. Sara's favorite room in the house is the screened-in porch. One of the standout features is a set of red, wooden swing beds, inviting guests to come unwind in a floating sea of pillows. The spindles that comprise the structure of the swings are all different from one another. Sara got them from a lumberyard that was going out of business at zero cost.
Her pops of red continue on the porch with a grouping of chairs. Two were her grandmother's, three came from Goodwill, and she picked up one of them on the side of the road. The charming, mismatched set seems to be right at home on the relaxed country veranda. "It's a gorgeous retreat," Sara said about her screened-in porch. "It's private. There are no bugs. We've even slept out there before when the weather was nice." There's no doubt the Swindles' home is a unique and happy marriage of the old and new, both inside and out. "I was lucky to be able to design the house around the things and people and even the dogs we love," said Sara. "And the best part is that all of these sentimental pieces from my family's history have a forever home."