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Into the Woods

A couple builds a modern house, with a few rustic accents, among the trees in Lafayette County.

Written by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem

When Aaron Dewey and his wife, Scottye Carter-Dewey, began several years ago looking for land on which to one day build a home, the search was not a short one. Then, in 2016, the couple stumbled upon a classified ad for the sale of some land. They looked at the land twice and decided they’d found their 60 acres of paradise, just outside the city limits of Oxford.

“We walked the land so much,” Carter-Dewey said. “There are old oak trees that are bigger than the two of us together can put our arms around; there are so many native plants. Our goal was to come in and put a house right in the middle of it all.”

Work on the property didn’t begin until 2018, and then it was just cutting and clearing enough trees for the driveway. Ground was broken to start building their house in May 2020.

“It was supposed to take 10 to 12 months, but it ended up taking 16,” Dewey said. “After all, we did build a house during a pandemic.”

Despite the pandemic, there were only a few issues, primarily dealing with shipping. The Deweys attempted to minimize materials used. The same tile went on the walls in all the bathrooms, for example.

Married for 17 years this July, the couple are Mississippians by birth — she’s from Meridian; he’s from Oxford. Sharing their home are Nellie, a sweet border collie, and Boone, a 12-year-old fluffy, white dog of uncertain lineage.

A modern house in the woods was not the initial concept for the couple’s home.

“Our original idea was to build a low-country style house, with wraparound porches,” Carter-Dewey said. “But as we spent more time on the land, we changed our minds. We decided we wanted lots of glass, so it gives the feeling the house is right in the trees. Our modern treehouse; that’s what we like to call it.”

Leaving the county road that serves as a border for part of the Dewey’s 60 acres and driving the 1,000 feet to the house, first on blacktop and later on a paved driveway, one may be taken aback by the modern house of wood and glass. But a second look offers the truth of the matter: It absolutely fits.

The collective vision for the house came from two people who love art and antiques. Carter-Dewey has a master’s degree in art history, her lawyer dad is an artist and her father-in-law is an art history professor at Ole Miss.

“We love local art especially,” Carter-Dewey said. “And it was important to us to have a place to display it.”

Her husband laughed. “We realized later that with all the windows, we really didn’t leave much wall space for hanging art.”

The walls that are in the house are mostly white, but each of the three bedrooms — including the owner’s suite — have a single wall painted a bright color. Throughout the house, the floors offer a rustic look, thanks to reclaimed white oak from a barn in Tennessee.

The custom-built front door is solid white oak, and it took 17 men to haul and install it. Beyond the door, the living room opens on one end to the kitchen. Large windows on two sides let in natural light.

“We get good morning light,” Dewey said. “But no hot afternoon light.”

Just off the kitchen and dining area, there is a wall of accordion doors that open onto a screened porch. The entire wall of doors can be opened, allowing fresh air into the house. With past tornadoes in mind, the basement, which includes a guest room and full bath, has reinforced steel walls.

When the couple moved into their new home last October, they exchanged a 1,500-square-foot house for 3,000 square feet — 800 downstairs and 2,200 upstairs. The couple, who both worked from home during the pandemic, share an office. She’s a Human Resources Business Partner at CoreLogic and he’s Senior Dealer Relationship Manager for Chase Auto. Their office, like the rest of the house, boasts large windows which offer many distractions like blooming dogwoods and visiting wildlife.

The builder of the house is Josh Samuels with Samuels Construction in Oxford. The Deweys sing his praises.

“He was so easy to work with,” Carter-Dewey said. “He has a great sense of humor, and he took what I had drawn on the back of a napkin and made it happen.”

A project as big as building a house together proved to be easy for the couple.

“We work well together, even during the building of the house,” Carter-Dewey said. “Aaron was more into the building side of things, and I was into the design. He knew what he wanted for the floor, and I let him do it; I wanted to use wallpaper in the bathrooms, and he let me. We liked each other’s choices.”

Her husband agreed.

“The only argument we had was over the painting of the window trim,” he said, laughing.

So far, fall and winter are the only seasons the Deweys have experienced in their “treehouse in the woods.” But they’re looking forward to their first spring and summer in their new home. No matter the season, it’s clear the couple are comfortable and content living among the trees.

“We do love our house,” Carter-Dewey said. “It’s just a little different, I guess. But it fits us. It really does.”

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