The Lincoln VillaA look inside Andy and Elizabeth Howorth's cozy cottage home
BY AMY ROSENTHAL
PHOTOS BY LIZZIE MCINTOSH
What do a Spanish villa and Oxford, Mississippi have in common? Well, on the outset nothing. Until you meet Andy and Elizabeth Howorth, that is.
Follow Lincoln Avenue until it dead ends into Faulkner Woods and you’ll find the Howorth’s cozy Mediterranean cottage, a tan stucco home that looks as if it were picked up off a vineyard in the south of Spain and dropped here, at 810 Lincoln Avenue.
Inside, the old-world charm of the exterior continues. Earthy tones and vibrant colors fill the Howorth’s home with a warmth and friendliness that mirrors the character of the people who fill it.
Andy and Elizabeth were married one year ago February, in an intimate ceremony in front of the wooden mantle in their family room. The union symbolized the creation of a new life, a new home, the blending of families, and the merging of their lives and pasts.
To Elizabeth, that is exactly what this house is about: two families and two lives coming together. “I tried to incorporate what we had from our separate histories and pull it all together,” she said, “I think our coupledom was kind of meant to be, everything just came together perfectly.”
Andy, a circuit court judge, has lived in Oxford his whole life. He recalls growing up just a couple streets away in the same neighborhood and later returning and purchasing a house of his own. He pointed to the oxidized tin roof of the neighboring house and said, “I used to own that house.”
The home is not only unique in design but in construct as well. An architectural treasure, the home was originally built in 1929 from plans designed by American inventor Thomas Edison.
Edison created the plans to engineer “the home of the future”: a sustainable house with walls and floors of concrete for the American of the twentieth century.
“It’s a bunker,” Andy joked. “Like living in a Yeti cooler,” his wife added.
The Howorths are proud of their home’s heritage, “This used to be an outside wall,” Andy said pointing to the corner where the kitchen meets the living room. He explained the phases of the home, how it began as a simple abode of just a few rooms until the early 1960s when its owners added wings to either side and extended the rear into the yard. Andy and Elizabeth plan to make their own renovations to the home later this year, adding on the master suite of Elizabeth’s dreams.
The deceptively large home sits on a sprawling piece of land that reaches out into the neighboring woods. The spacious green backyard is home to Oxford’s original swimming pool; it was built as a test run by architect Jenks Cullen when he was commissioned to build a pool for the university. “Cullen called the family and said ‘the university has hired me to build a swimming pool and I’ve never built [one] before, I need some practice’,” Andy explained, gesturing out the large window that overlooks the tiered yard.
Large, wooden beams impend over the family room, seamlessly connecting the original house with its addition.
In the family room, eclectic pieces gathered over Andy and Elizabeth’s lifetimes mimic the cohesion.
The family room seeps into a bright, open kitchen with a massive, copper sink and delicate blue and white tiles, “Andy is the cook,” Elizabeth said laughing, her hands resting on the countertops.
“I love the older, beautiful things,” Elizabeth added, “I don’t want my house to look like a hotel lobby- I feel like that’s kind of in right now and that’s great but I just love color too much and I love pattern.”
Elizabeth credits her close friend and talented designer Warner Moore of Memphis for his keen eye in helping her achieve her dream design: warm colors and fabrics that effortlessly blend old and new, comfort and sophistication.
She grabbed a magazine from the breakfast table and pointed out some of the photos that have inspired her.
“I love getting inspired by magazines,” she said in explaining her design aesthetic. “Of course we both had so many beautiful family pieces that we wanted to use and it was amazing how the colors came together.”
She interrupted herself as she walked through the family room and pointed out two small tables, “These were from my grandmother’s house these two demi lunes,” she added.
On either side of the front door hang black and white photos by Eudora Welty, highlighting the history of Andy’s home state. “All the art is fabulous,” she rushed to a large painting hanging in her dining room, “I love this Masey Craddock; she’s a great regional artist out of Memphis.”
Above the stairwell that leads to the refurbished basement is a stuffed turkey, one of Andy’s prized trophies. “He’s an avid outdoorsman,” Elizabeth said as she smiled and pointed out the large, colorful bird, one of two that stand stoically in the home.
Out the back door, sits a large screened in porch. The team of rocking chairs face outward into the surrounding woods offering a delightful invitation to alfresco living. Elizabeth exited the porch and made her way down a gravel path to the on-site guesthouse (the yellow cottage across the street serves as their additional guest space). What was once the garage is now an elegant bedroom and sitting area decorated with relaxed hues of blues and greens.
From the outside, the cottage boasts a cozy, intimate feel. However, the Howorths have spread out on their own property and even across the street. “The front does belie,” Elizabeth joked.
“We have lots of kids that come and go,” Andy spoke of the couple’s desire to have room hosting out of town guests. “We’re definitely in the next chapter of our lives but we have tons of people for Christmas, and there will be grandchildren in the future,” Elizabeth added.
Schooled at the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt, Elizabeth doesn’t quite have the same historical connection to Oxford as her husband. She has, however, adjusted to the cadence of small-town Mississippi life, “I absolutely love it,” she beamed.
The Howorths relish the rhythm of their new life together in their peaceful retreat, an escape from life’s pace that’s still walking distance from the heartbeat of Oxford. In a short time, Andy and Elizabeth have adapted to a new life together. Elizabeth has even become, in her own words, “a real, life Oxonian” and she loves every minute of it.