Untamed Interiors

Safaris and soirées meld in Betty and Mike Waters’ home.

Story Jan Swoope | Photographs Chris Jenkins & Luisa Porter

Photographed by Chris Jenkins.

Betty and Mike Waters. Photographed by Chris Jenkins.

As a meandering tree-lined driveway tops the final rise, visitors get a first glimpse of the secluded gem nestled against the woods of north Columbus and the front nine of the Country Club golf course.

For Betty and Mike Waters, who have lived in this home since 1995, it’s a haven, a reflection of their shared and individual interests. It’s a place they can go, well, just a little wild.

Illuminated for a gala to benefit the historic Stephen D. Lee Home and Museum, the house is at its most welcoming, aglow from within and without, its lights glimmering on the surface of a nearby lake.

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

The Waters are known for opening their doors for causes they care about. In fact, filling the house with people and laughter was one reason for an extensive remodel and expansion from 2006 to 2008. They wanted to create a place where their four children, and their growing families, could all gather under one roof at the same time.

Another primary goal was to add a distinctive space to highlight Mike and Betty’s avid interest in game hunting. The resulting trophy room has emerged as an extraordinary focal point.

For the addition, Betty and Mike turned to architect Skip Tuminello, of S.J. Tuminello and Associates of Vicksburg, who designed the original house in 1975 for businessman Richard Beneke. His wife, Hedi, had spied the property from the golf course and fallen in love with it. She even retained some elements of an existing circa-1949 structure in their new construction.

A team led by Rhett Construction Co., project overseer Willis Peek and interior designer Lisa Dennison, owner of The Design Group, turned the vision into reality. Many talented area artisans including Jane Crawford, Judith Hanson, Bill Moss, Ralph Null and Eunice Pruitt added their own special dimension.

 “I had stacks and stacks of books I looked at for years, picking out things and saying, ‘This is what we want,’” said Betty. “Now, I can’t imagine not having the space. With all these grandchildren, at Christmas it was completely filled to the max.”

Every room in the home tells a family story. A profusion of things meaningful to Betty, Mike or their children, keeps memories close. “It’s really eclectic, a collection of inherited pieces and many pieces we’ve acquired over our 37 years of marriage, things we’ve loved and collected,” Betty explained. “Our house isn’t necessarily filled with museum-quality things, but it really is sentimental.”

And isn’t that how any house is “tamed” into a home.