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Stylishly Southern Mississippi Home

A Jackson, Mississippi, home keeps its traditional roots with a modern-day makeover

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Jean Allsopp

    No rooms were unused. No walls needed to be moved for better access. No gut job was required to modernize the existing floor plan. The bottom line is John and Diane McGowan simply wanted a new decorative statement for their Jackson, Mississippi, home. Interiors that hadn’t been touched significantly since the couple moved in almost three decades ago needed a facelift to provide a fresh foil for a grand collection of antiques and artwork.  And Diane had a definite vision in mind. 

    Pairs of chairs in the living room offer contrasting forms. Tall wing chairs by Chaddock in front of the fireplace are covered in taupe velvet and exhibit an at-full-attention posture. Across the room, bergères wear white linen and are highlighted with gold around the curvy edges of their frames. An old armoire offsets the new sofa from Lee Industries.

    Photography: Jean Allsopp
    Produced by Eleanor Roper

    Interior designer: Lisa Palmer, SummerHouse Interior Design, 1109 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite D, Ridgeland, MS 39157; 601/853-4445;

    Round table between chairs: Oly Studio;
    Bergère chairs, fabric for seat cushion and front of chair “Belize” in Natural Linen, sofa F5750/07 in Natural Linen: Lee Industries;
    Fabric for back of chair “Antique Strie” in Velvet Fog: F. Schumacher & Co.; 800/523-1200;
    Contrast trim for sofa “Kediri Silk”: Osborne & Little;
    Pillows on bergère chairs: Rebecca Vizard, B.Viz Boutique;
    Table bases for custom skirted tables: Brian Smyda, Smyda Woodworking;
    Stone table tops Storm Travertine: JTM Tile Distributing;
    Skirt fabric STDAS2 in Pewter: Nomi Fabrics;
    Lamps on skirted tables: Visual Comfort & Co.;
    Mirrors above tables, zebra bench: Tara Shaw;
    Painting above sofa: Brent Smith, Brent Smith Art;
    Framing of sofa painting, framed artwork at side of armoire Framed Inks on Paper by Dick Ford: Brown’s Fine Art;
    Side tables: SummerHouse Interior Design, Ridgeland, Mississippi; 601/853-4445;
    Chairs at fireplace “Laquinta Wing Chair” in Taupe Velvet: Chaddock;
    Rug:  Nola Rugs;
    Antique lamps flanking sofa, mirror at fireplace, armoire, coffee table, pillows on sofa: homeowners’ collection.

  • Living Room Before

    “The rooms hadn’t been painted since the house was constructed in 1990,” she says. “Furthermore, when we built the house, I picked out everything during the building process—from moldings to other architectural details. So when it came time to select furniture, I went the easy route and literally bought ‘rooms’ off the showroom floor. But those designs weren’t really created specifically for us.”

  • Jean Allsopp

    Light, Lovely Living Room

    The first time around, the McGowans also didn’t know interior designer Lisa Palmer. She’s especially skilled at producing a majestic Southern look that’s full of curves, shimmer, and layers without a heavy museum effect. In the McGowans’ abode, Palmer shed the original floral chintz and dark colors (forest green and heavy yellow were the primary offenders) and delivered a look that reads 21st-century Southern chic.

    “When Diane initially called me, she said that she wanted a few new paint colors,” Palmer says. “But as the saying goes, one thing leads to another. Once she and I started talking, she realized that a few changes in paint colors, all on their own, weren’t going to give her results that would speak to her current tastes. Reworking other elements was necessary, too.”

    Elegant fabrics grace the newly imagined living room. Matching console tables are draped in silver silk skirts decorated with tonal hand-painted dragons. Mirrors are from Tara Shaw. Kidney pillows by Rebecca Vizard on the armchairs were fabricated from the embroidery and stump work that embellished antique European textiles and old military jackets. 

    Chandelier (as seen from living room) “Palissy Lantern”: Niermann Weeks;
    Foyer table (as seen from living room) “Collier Dining Table” by Hickory Chair: through SummerHouse Interior Design, Ridgeland, Mississippi; 601/853-4445;

  • Jean Allsopp

    Breezy Southern Home

    The first considerations to be addressed? Focusing on the arresting outdoor views and forming a palette that wouldn’t fight with them. The McGowans’ home is situated near a man-made lake, and it’s shared with only three other homes. 

  • Foyer Before

    Plantation-style windows that lift into the ceiling were installed around the home’s perimeter as it was being constructed. So, the architecture of John and Diane’s home already was conducive to an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. But the interior colors needed modification.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Bright Foyer

    In the living room, foyer, and dining room—all adjacent spaces—Palmer applied rich ivory paint. It allows the intricate moldings to pop but in a clean, modern manner.  

    Above an old sideboard, candle sconces flank a trumeau mirror.

  • Dining Room Before

    Before, the dining room walls were painted yellow and side chairs were upholstered in green leather.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Refreshed Dining Room

    In the living room, neutral furniture is exotically interrupted with a bench covered in a black-and-white zebra print. The foyer teams a painted center table with a sleek crystal pendant. And in the dining room, the existing ensemble of side chairs exchanged green leather upholstery for more relevant ivory leather. A sideboard, lighted by a pair of amber-color glass lamps, was artfully enhanced by a contemporary abstract, painted by a relative. 

    A red breakfront, once positioned in the living room, was moved to the dining room as part of the home’s refresh. To suit its new location between two tall windows, designer Lisa Palmer had a craftsman add height to the antique piece. Now it matches the scale of the soaring architecture. The crystal chandelier is original to the house. Lamps are from Arteriors. 

    Host chairs “Martin” in Mohair by Hickory Chair, lamps flanking artwork “Wilhelmina Amber Ribbed Glass Table Lamp”: through SummerHouse Interior Design, Ridgeland, Mississippi; 601/853-4445;
    Leather for side chairs “Vacona” in Downy Gray: Hickory Chair Co.; 800/349-4579;
    Framed artwork by Martha Rae Baker: through Brown’s Fine Art;
    Rug: Nola Rugs;
    Base for chinoiserie cabinet: Brian Smyda, Smyda Woodworking;
    Refinishing of cabinet: Virginia Weathersby,;
    Dining table, sideboard and mirror: homeowners’ collection.

  • Sunroom Before

    The pretty aubergine hue of the sunroom before stayed for the makeover.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Positively Purple Sunroom

    A dark eggplant paint in the light-drenched sunroom juxtaposes the light hues that bathe the rest of the house. Diane’s affinity for antiques is front and center with a cast-iron fireplace surround from England. Chairs from Lee Industries in front of the fireplace give Diane and John a place to sit and look outside toward the lake. 

    Chairs flanking fireplace in Huntley Mushroom: Lee Industries;
    Cube stool “Duncan Cube” in Espresso Mohair: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams;
    Rug “Mandacaru”: Merida;
    Side table at chair one of three “Lanier Nesting Tables”: Mr. Brown;
    Table lamp by Arteriors: through SummerHouse Interior Design, Ridgeland, Mississippi; 601/853-4445;

  • Veranda Before

    “For one special birthday, my husband had the veranda redone for me,” Diane says.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Stylish Veranda

    Designer Palmer introduced a new furniture scheme that establishes two distinct areas. A seating arrangement with espresso-color wicker chairs contrasts materials with a glass cocktail table. The dining area mixes two styles of chairs—​slipcovered and café-style—on either side of a stone table.

    Fabric for wicker chair: Sunbrella;
    Outdoor pillows: Dransfield & Ross;
    Concrete table by wicker chair: Currey & Co., Atlanta; 678/533-1500;
    Dining host and side chairs at far end of veranda by Elegant Earth, white garden stool by Emissary: through SummerHouse Interior Design, Ridgeland, Mississippi; 601/853-4445;

  • Master Bedroom Before

    Pink bathed the master bedroom before, but in a much stronger value. Now, a barely-there version softens the symmetrical room. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Pretty Pink Bedroom

    The master bedroom whispers pale pink. The canopy bed, once draped with black floral fabric, now cascades an elegant ivory sheer that doesn’t make the bed feel too enclosed.

    Bed “Simone”: Hickory Chair Co.; 800/349-4579;
    Fabric for tester on back wall “Sheer” CH2604-071: Chivasso;
    Fabric for headboard and duvet “Blush Glazed Linen”: Oly Studio;
    Bed drapery fabric “Linen” 27591-111, fabric for chair and pillow “Moire Line” in Rosewater: Kravet; 800/645-9068;
    Bedding: Legacy Linens;
    Accent pillow on bed: Rebecca Vizard, B.Viz Boutique;
    Bedside tables “Carrey Mirrored Chest”: Worlds Away;
    Bedside lamps by Mottega: through Arteriors Home; 877/488-8866;
    Framed artwork at bedside tables: Max & Company;
    Sofa “Marlor,” fabric for sofa and pillows in Velvet 2948-11: Hickory Chair Co.; 800/349-4579;
    Fabric for silk pillows on sofa and contrast appliqué on bed drapery “Silk Derby”: Taffard Fabrics;
    Chair “Marlena”: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams;
    Coffee table, rug, secretary: homeowners’ collection.
    Chair side table: Made Goods;

  • Jean Allsopp

    Antique Secretary

    Overall, the change in design speaks to Southern living in contemporary times—and that’s just what the McGowans wanted for themselves and their growing extended family. 

    An antique secretary was moved from the sunroom to fill a corner here. Striped chairs from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams offer extra seating.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Homeowner Portrait

    “We were ready for something new, and we love what Lisa did now as much as the day she finished,” Diane says. “With our large family that now includes great-grandchildren, our home is an especially happy place.”

  • Jean Allsopp

    What a View

    The Greek Revival-style home that John and Diane McGowan built was completed in 1990 and gives the couple spectacular lake views. 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill