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Seeing the Light

A Wellsgate home is transformed into a bright, open space that welcomes family and friends.

Written by Eugene Stockstill | Photographed by Joe Worthem

To the average passerby, the lovely brick residence in the Wellsgate subdivision in Oxford where Summer Anderson and her family live, does not announce itself as a first-class example of residential renovation. You’d have to bother asking to uncover that piece of information.

“I had the vision all along,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t very functional for our family.”

Posh domiciles fill the hills of Wellsgate, and the neighborhood could easily serve as the suburban setting for a major Hollywood production. Small boats and Jet Skis bob on the shores of Wellsgate Lake. Residents walk with well-mannered dogs in peace and quiet past tree-lined dwellings. In a word: charming.

But in the days long before anyone ever envisioned this community, the area consisted of rolling hills, pastures and the small, sparkling lake. If these hills could talk, who knows what else they would say?

“They used to ride horses out here,” Anderson said.

When you start digging, you find out the Anderson home has undergone a transformation of its own. A former schoolteacher and now a real estate agent with Crye-Leike Realty in Oxford, Anderson moved from Yazoo City to Oxford with her husband and three sons in 2008. The next year, they moved into Wellsgate, but they didn’t begin renovating their current residence until two years later.

The main living area of the Andersons’ home fans out to one side of an expansive staircase just inside the front door, and the stairs lead to the four bedrooms upstairs. A quick tour downstairs and a conversation with Anderson help fill in the gaps as to all the changes that have taken place.

“It was dated, dark, closed off” when the family moved in, she said. A bit like the darkening, waning days of fall before it hardens into the cold of winter. Now the house breathes the essence of springtime breezes and sunshine. A walk through the Anderson home feels like a pleasant stroll through a park.

“It’s more livable,” she said.

When the family moved in, a wall separated the kitchen from the living room, and the small, narrow back porch had little practical use. The laminated cabinetry was a dark hue, as were all the walls. Today, you might be hard-pressed to recognize the residence if you had not seen it since its construction in 2003.

The dark brick exterior and the interior walls have all been lightened, and four smooth white columns line the front porch. The wall dividing the kitchen and the living room is gone, as is a backyard pool. Huge glass doors replaced the windows in the living room. A substantial back patio area allows the family to grill and entertain friends and family. Light floods the whole space with warmth.

Several other changes deserve special attention. A former side porch was walled in and converted into a convenient half-bath. The hallway off the kitchen offers ample closet space, including a nice-sized peekaboo locker. Hickory-pecan floors and marble countertops garnish the refurbished kitchen.

The kitchen, which sports a large stove hood and extended island, doubles as a dining room, with the island providing additional seating on stools.

“We all eat in here standing up,” Anderson said with a laugh.

Anderson gives a big shoutout to Oxford residential designer Amy Catherine Wilson, as well as interior designer Julie Montgomery, who helped pick fashionable lighting and all the other fine touches that can transform a house into a home. Deep-hanging lamps, a basin-like sink in the half-bath and rich, knotty floors give the dwelling a cozy feel.

As for quality of life, Anderson said she believes Wellsgate is the perfect place to raise a family.

“My sons fish in the lake,” she said, and they have a canoe, too. “We’ve been very happy here. This is a great place for family and kids.”

What would this house say if it could speak?

“Come on in!” Anderson said.

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