In the spring of 2007, Mary K. Caldwell returned to her native Jonesboro and took up residence in a rented loft in the newly revitalized downtown district. “It was supposed to just be a temporary move while I looked for a place to buy,” she says, “but I loved living downtown so much that I decided I had to find a place of my own.” She soon located the perfect spot—a spacious loft overlooking Union Street that was still under construction. “I was a little apprehensive, because I had always lived in traditional subdivisions,” she says. “But my lifestyle is so different now, and I wanted someplace fun to live.”
“When I first saw the loft, the basic structure was in place, but that was about all,” Mary K. says. “I loved the urban feel of it, with the exposed ductwork and the brick wall.” She took ownership last September, just two weeks before she moved in, so working quickly was key. “I’m a big organizer, so I had the entire process planned out,” she says. “I gave all the sub-contractors deadlines, and everybody did exactly what they said they would, although it was very hectic!” Mary K.’s prior experience as a decorator truly paid off as she watched her elegant, yet edgy home take shape.
The space itself is quite modern, with an open layout, bamboo floors and curving walls, but Mary K. was careful to pay homage to the building’s historic roots. She chose a chic color scheme of pale lime green, chocolate and black throughout the loft, visually unifying the living area, kitchen and bedroom. With its sleek black cabinets, appliances and granite countertops, the kitchen is a seamless part of the loft as a whole, even boasting a selection of original art. However, she wasn’t afraid to blend feminine, traditional touches into the contemporary rooms. “I’ve always had eclectic style, and I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite things with the modern look,” she says.
Mary K. carefully selected new pieces in which to invest, like the new black sofa, while reusing many pieces from her previous home, which were re-interpreted with fresh paint jobs and upholstery for the new space. “I re-painted and re-upholstered my Ralph Lauren dining room chairs,” she says. “They took on a whole new life with the metallic orange and black fabric.” She also relocated chandeliers and oversized mirrors—traditional pieces that get a style infusion when juxtaposed against the loft’s clean lines and brick walls.
One of the most notable pieces hanging on those walls is Mary K.’s mounted elk, a definite conversation piece with visitors, but it’s her art collection that’s truly breathtaking. “I’ve been collecting art for almost 28 years,” she says. “My lifelong friend Sara Howell owns a gallery, and she got me excited about original art.” Collecting pieces from Sara Howell Gallery and on her travels, Mary K. has amassed a fantastic array of paintings and drawings. “It’s a diverse group, but my favorite pieces are those by Jonesboro artists,” she says.
Whether she’s enjoying a cozy evening on her chaise lounge or entertaining a group of friends, Mary K. is thrilled to be a part of Jonesboro’ thriving downtown scene. “My friends come over for a glass of wine, and then we all walk to a restaurant for dinner,” she says. “It’s just exactly right for me.”