Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll
Hear the term “member of the family,” and you’re bound to consider the usual roll call of kinship, such as aunts, uncles, assorted cousins, or even a dear friend who’s been extremely attentive over the years. For designer Jamie McPherson, his close-knit group includes all of the above plus one more that shouldn’t be overlooked―his house. While growing up on a farm in Newnan, Georgia, Jamie spent his childhood days admiring and playing in an 1852 former plantation home, which sat next door to his parents’ property.
Known as Vinewood, the house continued to intrigue Jamie even as he grew older and visited his folks during college breaks. Little could he have known that one day, he and his partner, Tra Raines, would settle down within its time-caressed rooms and bucolic surroundings. “I often heard my mother refer to this house as a ‘grand ole lady whose petticoat had gotten tattered over the years,’ ” Jamie confides. “I’m just thankful that Tra and I got the chance to unruffle its former beauty.”
Before moving back to Newnan, he and Tra resided in a contemporary condo in Atlanta. Once they decided to seek greener pastures, the couple assumed that they would find a quaint bungalow to refurb-ish. As soon as I heard that Vinewood was for sale, all other options were out of the question,” Jamie remarks.
The couple’s about-face is even more understandable when you learn that Jamie holds a degree in historic preservation from SCAD (The Savannah College of Art and Design). Even with his daily roster of clients who prefer something a little more contemporary, this designer always returns to his admiration for older structures. He readily admits, “I don’t know if growing up next door to Vinewood made me love old houses or if my love of old houses made me appreciate growing up next door to Vinewood.”
Though the house was built during the antebellum period, a previous owner had removed its stately columns and front portico. In their place, Vinewood’s entryway adopted a simpler pediment top, rectangular sidelights, and an unadorned transom―all of which changed it from Greek Revival into more of a Colonial style. Since there weren’t any known pictures or drawings from when it was first built, they decided to restore the exterior as is.
After removing the aluminum siding and clearing away the overgrowth of bushes and trees, Jamie and Tra miraculously uncovered Vinewood’s 150-year-old heart-pine planking. Having been protected by the modern cladding, the shiplapped planks remained virtually intact, apart from a board here and there that needed to be replaced. The house also still contained all of its original windows, wood floors, and mantels.