Leonie Giulia February 27, 2021 Home Design
Nestled down a country road, past oak trees, off the road and out of view from anyone passing by, sits a home built from the ground up, for and by homeowners and artists, Vivian and Walter Neill. Also on the large, wooded property is the blacksmith studio of homeowner Walter, a full chicken coop, and the art gallery that the Neill’s run together, Oxford Treehouse Gallery.
“Always interested in the arts, we had early careers in the restaurant and plumbing businesses,” Vivian shares. “We married and settled in Oxford, MS in 1999 where we began our art careers and business in earnest. We are developing a sort of arts compound where we live, work and promote regional artists. We have taken our time reclaiming the acreage we acquired and look forward to the coming additions/evolution, including a sculpture garden in the field outside our home.” The arts compound she’s referring to is the rural art gallery she and Walter opened three years ago, sitting off the ground in a treehouse-like setting, aptly named The Oxford Treehouse Gallery, just 200 yards from their home. The gallery, as well as their home, houses a lot of their own art, too. Walter is an artist/blacksmith and Vivian is a painter and block printer.
Heirlooms often represent a beloved person or memory that tells us a little bit more about who we are. They don’t have to be on trend or in good condition to add warmth and personality to our homes. Not every heirloom has a fantastic history, but they all create a sense of family and belonging that serves as a reminder of the journeys that have brought us together. Here are 10 family heirlooms from the archives that celebrate history and family.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
When they got the keys to their office in February, Liz and Kate immediately started refinishing the space to inspire their work. The charm of the architectural elements like coffered ceilings, terrazzo floors and large windows add to the beauty of the studio. Budget-friendly furniture, DIY projects and vibrant art — of course! — have made this space uniquely theirs
And comfy it is. The living room is the most inviting space to unwind and imbibe in style. “Matthew has been writing about booze and drinking culture for 14 years (culminating in his book You Suck At Drinking) so we have to have a good bar!” They also have a side table in the living room with whiskey on it for those occasions when they are “too lazy to get up and walk to the bar.” Contentment, Sarah reminds us, is often found in the small, thoughtful details.
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