Chickens and charm are in full bloom at the countryside home of Debbie and Larry Lawrence
Story Jan Swoope | Photographs Matt Garner
Once on the garden path, turn left at the gazing ball, only a wingbeat from birdhouses and blue bottles, to enter a world of country comfort created by Debbie and Larry Lawrence in Caledonia, Miss.
At once quaint and contemporary, the couple’s home is a cheerful fusion of colors, heritage and even humor.
From heirloom quilts to metal roosters and winged piglets, Debbie’s personal stamp is everywhere. Here, as in the coming of spring, everything old can be new again.
“I have a very old soul trapped inside me somewhere,” the owner of Bloomer’s Nursery smiles. The soft-spoken brunette leads the way, shadowed by Millie and BeeBee, two four-legged members of the family. “I love old things … I guess I like for things to show a little love on them.”
Built in 1988, the wood-sided house crowns a wide expanse of land, with plenty of space for the couple’s dogs, horses and, yes, even chickens.
“I love chickens,” laughs the lady of the house. She comes by it naturally, pointing out a sepia photograph of her Grandmother Huckaby, holding a favored hen. The picture rests in a place of honor on a china hutch filled with jadite glass chickens. More feathered friends, in varying sizes and mediums, are perched around the dining room and kitchen.
Down the hall, the decorator’s imagination veered westward, to the land of cowgirls. Inspired by a single, unique pillow telling the story of a real-life cowgirl, Debbie outfitted a guest bedroom with horse-print linens and retro accents conjuring up images of a rosy-cheeked Dale Evans and 25-cent movies on Saturday afternoon.
Debbie and Larry agree, though, that their go-to spot is the back porch. This outdoor room’s eye-catching centerpiece is a hanging bed, an open invitation to grab a lazy-day catnap, or revel in a vivid sunset. It’s flanked by a casual seating area (with television so these devoted Mississippi State fans can follow sports) and a trestle table for outdoor dining.
The porch’s north wall is cleverly constructed of salvaged doors and windows. Sections of vintage doors, some with doorknobs still on, comprise a three-quarter wall, topped by old windows that open for refreshing cross-breezes. For this project, Debbie worked with craftsman Stanley Bigham, who also made the bed.
“When we’re back here, it’s like going on vacation,” says the nursery owner, looking out toward a distant treeline. “It’s a good place to reflect, to get away from everything else.”
Debbie’s touch doesn’t end at the house. Visitors strolling the grounds can hardly resist wondering about the stories behind a giant metal rooster, a church steeple or even the Airstream trailer, bedecked with palm trees and pink flamingos.
Inside and out, the Lawrence homeplace exudes a warm whimsy and personal style, a mix of cherished relics and favorite finds.
“I like my treasures,” Debbie shares, slowly stroking a contented Millie. “We like to be comfortable, to be surrounded by things we love.”