Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Written by Michael Newsom | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Pat and Leslie Coleman create decades-old feel in their recently constructed farmhouse.
Drive about 15 minutes down Old Sardis Road, and the Coleman farmhouse sits hidden among cotton fields, fruit trees and live oaks. Chickens and deer roam the property, which is not that far from Oxford but feels like it’s in another place and time entirely.
Inside and out, the home seems like it must have been there since the 1800s, but it’s less than two years old. The owners, Pat and Leslie Coleman, purchased the land in the 1990s, and planned to eventually build a new home on the site that would look and feel like an 1890s farmhouse. When work was completed by Mickey Babb Construction in November 2017, the end result was a 3,500-square-foot house that most people wouldn’t ever guess wasn’t standing during the age of Faulkner.
Though the task of realizing this vision was a lot of work, Leslie didn’t enter the process with the idea that she would have to sacrifice any function to achieve the antique style she wanted.
“I’m not an interior designer by any means,” Leslie said. “What I know I’ve just picked up over the years from watching TV.
“Two things that I know are important about design are form and function. I am probably backwards because the most important thing to me is function first and then creating the form around that.”
Pat needed a little help envisioning the end result. The concept was a big change from what they’d been used to in Madison, where they lived previously.
“Leslie had to sell me on a lot of things,” Pat said. “We have lived in neighborhoods all of our married life. They were nice, well-developed neighborhoods. The farmhouse change, well, she could envision it much better than I ever could.”
The Colemans, who met when they were students at Ole Miss in the 1980s, incorporated their own personalities into the design.
There’s a study lined with Pat’s guns and a large screened-in room with an outdoor kitchen setup and a swing he likes to lie on at night, listening to the whippoorwills.
Leslie raises chickens and wanted to incorporate that theme into the home. A custom-built light fixture made from portions of a chicken feeder hangs above the kitchen island with more “chicken decor” beneath it.
Vintage details lend authenticity to the house. Throughout are 1920s light fixtures, some with clear Edison bulbs. Leslie spent hours searching eBay for fixtures and doorknobs from various decades,
“If this house had been built at the turn of the century, people would have been updating it over the years,” she said. “It wouldn’t all look like the 1890s.”
She rounded up cypress and heart pine doors for the home. Shiplap was also incorporated, as well as two large pieces of a wooden beam that was over 100 years old and had been removed from a warehouse in North Carolina and shipped to a seller in Indianola.
The home’s ceilings are 10 feet tall throughout, but the doors are a standard 6 feet 8 inches, presenting a design challenge. The Colemans decided to add transoms with glass above each door to close the space while still allowing sunlight to flow through.
The finished home offers views of the surrounding cotton fields and wide-open, grassy areas with large oaks, apple, plum and peach trees, as well as loaded blueberry bushes. The use of windows was very important in Leslie’s vision for the house.
“Everywhere in the house we thought about window placement and what we wanted to see, and what we wanted to frame,” Leslie said.
The home has an apartment space called “Rebel Roost” that is offered for rent on AirBnB. The wing also serves as a comfortable place for visiting relatives.
After seeing his wife’s vision for the home and Rebel Roost come to life, Pat is awestruck by the end result.
“I think Leslie’s vision really turned out as she wanted it to,” Pat said. “I had to be patient.
When she started pulling up pictures of it and showing me what she wanted it to look like, I started buying into it. She had to sell me on a lot of it because of the more modern houses we have lived in, but it was totally her vision.”
The little details all work in unison to create a home that feels authentically 1890s, but somehow also doesn’t feel like a museum at the same time.
“The best compliment we get when people come into our home is that it feels so warm and inviting,” Leslie said. “You are not afraid to sit on something or touch something. People feel warm when they come in.”
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