TUPELO • For several years, Terry Lytal lived in a very traditional home on North Lamar in Oxford that was filled with English and European antiques he’d collected.
One day he woke up, looked around and realized his tastes had changed. After liquidating just about all his furnishings, he moved home to Baldwyn in 2017 to take care of his ailing father.
When his dad died, Lytal moved back to Tupelo, where he had started his career in nursing at the North Mississippi Medical Center in 1974. And he knew just where he wanted to live – Robins Street.
“This is the first and only house I looked at,” said Lytal, 66. “I love this street, the trees, the sidewalks, the family atmosphere, the charm.”
Lytal purchased a modern-style house built in 1980 in the historic downtown neighborhood made up of 100-year-old homes and cottages.
“The woman who built it wanted something new and different and she had it built sideways on the lot,” he said. “The house leans to modern or mid-century modern.”
Lytal immediately gutted and rebuilt the kitchen, added all new windows and doors to the home, put in waterproof laminate flooring that looks like wood, restored a skylight in the living room and painted the home, inside and out.
“Every room inside the home is white, white, white on white,” he said. “It took five coats of paint to cover the walls. I can’t tell you how many gallons of paint we used in all.”
Lytal said when he moved into the home, he almost felt like a college student.
“I had very little furniture or furnishings,” he said. “It’s been fun to fill it. Now, my taste is more mid-century modern and minimalistic, with touches of antique pieces for warmth.”
The first piece of furniture he bought for the 1,450-square-foot, two-bedroom home was a 1950s sectional sofa from Relics Antique Marketplace in Tupelo. It was covered in brown leather, which he reupholstered in off-white.
“Then I started adding pieces that complemented the sofa,” he said. “I worked with Room to Room to find chairs, a teacart, some bedroom furnishings. When I first moved in, I was overwhelmed with everything, so I had Jeffery Hall from Bruce come over. He helped me get my brain straight.”
Lytal is no stranger to interior design. As a child, he was always redoing his room at home, changing the paint or curtains. He was also the one responsible for decorating at Christmas.
While in Oxford, he and his partner had an interior design shop called Inside Oxford. For years, Lytal juggled the shop while commuting to Tupelo for his nursing career.
“I left NMMC in 1999 and now I work part time at Sanctuary Hospice House,” he said. “Sometimes I still help do interior design work, but it’s for pleasure. It’s not something I would want to turn into a business again.”
While the house itself wasn’t in bad shape, the outside space was a different story.
“The yard was a disaster – a nightmare,” Lytal said. “Three days after I bought the house, I sat in the backyard and just cried. I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew.”
A round swimming pool in the backyard was full of leaves and in such bad shape, Lytal decided to have it filled in.
“But it was going to cost the same thing to fill it in as it was to add a new liner and pump,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d enjoy a pool, but I do.”
He added a driveway in the backyard that has a pergola at the end and put a fence around the property.
“I tried to match the style of the house,” Lytal said. “I did horizontal slats instead of vertical.”
He took out one old oak tree that was dying and had another one limbed up. He uncovered crape myrtles that lined the backyard and planted Knock Out roses, daylilies, limelight hydrangeas, azaleas, camellias, hostas and seasonal color.
“The outside living space is just as important as the inside living space,” Lytal said.
He has a front porch seating area, a side screened-in porch, a small courtyard with seating and the large backyard patio area. A fountain in the backyard and one by the front door add sound and movement to the space.
“This house didn’t have any character when I bought it,” Lytal said. “It was just a blah house, a Plain Jane. That’s what I liked about it. I could do whatever I wanted with it. Even with the landscaping, I can see three years down the road what things will look like when everything is developed and established. Just when I think I’ve got something right, I’ll add to it. I just can’t sit still.”