A Lowndes County couple’s home reflects their love for the sailing life, pop culture and inventive architecture
Story Jan Swoope | Photographs Matt Garner
In a sense, Wayne Jones and Petie Bell are masters of found objects.
Unexpected and nostalgic objects. Entertaining and recycled objects. Useful objects. And that they’ve had a ball bringing them all together is the object of it all.
From a sock hop-style game room to the uncluttered chi of the upstairs living space, their Lowndes County, Miss., home reflects who they are and where life has taken them.
Wayne, a longtime contractor, master builder and mariner, has an uncanny eye for materials ripe for re-purposing. An acrylic shelf from a shop going out of business is reincarnated as a stovetop backsplash. Perforated industrial sheeting transforms the look of a stand-alone kitchen cook space and counter.
A half-inch thick storefront window of tempered glass, balanced on orange sawhorses, makes a stylish statement as a dining table.
One dramatic recycle is a 12-foot diameter metal ring, an appliance store’s discarded display. Draped in lights and suspended from the ceiling of a two-story atrium, it creates a remarkable focal point.
“I’ve been able to build a lot of things for people who could afford the best architects and ideas,” said Wayne. That experience has informed this customized space, part “lifestyle habitat,” part shop. “I’ve been lucky enough to do something I really love.”
“We both have real estate in our backgrounds and building in our blood,” said Petie, from a deck chair on the “back porch,” an indoor second-floor landing. It overlooks an adjoining shop dominated by nostalgic signage, a big Bayliner trawler and two candy-apple red cars. There’s also the Little Guy camper trailer.
“Wayne and I love to travel,” smiled Petie, who used to organize group tours through her company, Escape Travel and Tours. “I think we could be happy traveling 363 days of the year.” The couple often vacations on water, exploring inland waterways and lakes. They actually found the distinctive tiles used in their kitchen on a boating trip in Canada.
Wayne, an admitted stickler for detail, did much of the work in the living space himself. He and Petie handled all the painting and ceramic floors together. Most of the memorabilia throughout the home and shop had been accumulated over years. For the rest, well, there was no rush.
“We really just took our time finding things,” said Petie of the project that began five years ago. “We didn’t get in a hurry. We knew we’d know it when we saw it.”
It’s still a work-in-progress, contends Wayne, whose attention to design detail is seen in self-closing cabinets, under-counter lighting and ingenious storage spaces, probably influenced by three years of life on a houseboat, making good use of every available inch.
They both concede to a bit of free spirit. They’re a “perfect match,” Wayne said, which has made creating their unique environment a “fun process.”
“It may not be for everyone,” said Petie, “but for us, it’s just right.”