By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
It’s hard to put a label on Stephen Plum. By trade, he is a contractor, but he’s more than that. He’s a carpenter, an artist, a visionary.
And he’s taken an ordinary home in Amory and turned it into something extraordinary.
Plum, a native of Kleve, Germany, moved to the United States in 1997 with his first wife. After their divorce, he fell in love with this country and decided to stay.
In 2000, he met an Amory native, Melanie Moffett, and after a five-week courtship, the two married. They have a pair of daughters, 11-year-old Flannery and 8-year-old Helena. The family lived in Becker before buying a 1941 Colonial-style house in Amory four years ago.
“We bought the house as a flip house, since I’m a contractor, but we really liked the school district, so we decided to stay,” said Stephan, 44. He worked on the house for a year and a half before the family was able to move into it.
The first thing he did was tear out all the old plumbing.
“I decided to put a half-bath in a downstairs pantry,” he said. “That’s pretty much when we decided to live here.”
Stephen redid two bathrooms upstairs – he built a Japanese soaking tub in one – and added a full bath downstairs. He and Melanie ripped up carpet to refinish all the hardwood floors upstairs and down, and had central heat and air installed.
That’s when the house got interesting.
“I don’t do beige and everything in the house was white,” said Melanie. “I decided to go with a palette called What’s in Bloom – orange, mango, lemon yellow, lime green and jalapeño pepper. I like to frame and hang my kids’ artwork, so I painted the dining room walls black.”
But Melanie doesn’t take all the credit for the kitchen, which has a Mondrian art feel to it.
“When we worked on the kitchen, we got stymied,” she said. “We knew in our heads what we wanted but the first draft came out a hot mess – it looked like a bad version of a circus.”
She called interior designer Stephen Thompson of Tupelo and he came to the home in Amory and helped the couple get the color choices right and the balance they needed.
“I believe he thought it quite the challenge to have that many colors in a kitchen,” Melanie said.
‘Ideas just pop
into my head’
But color isn’t the only thing that makes the kitchen a showplace. Stephan put his carpentry skills to work and built a 30-inch-deep countertop out of mahogany that allows for really long drawers.
He also built a picture window over the kitchen sink, crafted the cabinets and drawers that are all lined with cedar and even put two small windows with walnut frames on one wall to let additional light into the room.
“I don’t like anything that’s ordinary,” Stephan said.
The couple continued the bright color scheme throughout the house: The game room is orange, a sitting room is jalapeño green, Helena’s bedroom is pink and Flannery’s is lime green.
In the living room, which is painted mango, stands a mannequin the family has named Lola.
“We dress her up for different occasions,” Melanie said. “She’s been Harry Potter, she was a bride in June, she wore a red negligee for Valentine’s Day. On the Fourth of July, we put her on the front porch in a bikini.”
Throughout the house are glimpses of Stephan’s artwork. In the kitchen, a hand-carved light fixture of an arm hangs from the ceiling. In the sitting room sits a table he made from a pair of blue jeans and native cedar. An intricate carving Melanie calls “Rebirth After Apocalypse” juts from a wall.
“My style is what you see in my art,” he said. “Everything else I do is what people want.”
Stephan continued his wood skills outside the home, where he built a three-story tree house in a huge Magnolia.
“When we first moved in, that was the first thing the girls climbed, so it was just perfect,” he said. “I wanted it to look like a ship with a bow, but I wanted it to be layers so the children would actually play on it.”
Earlier this summer, he attached a zipline to one of the decks.
“Ideas just pop into my head,” Stephan said. “I can’t help that. Everything I make is one of a kind, if I’m designing. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over. In the world of China, we have to be unique. I can’t compete with them.”