Tupelo grocer builds dream home

By By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

BELDEN – One of the first things Damon Palmer will tell you about himself is that he doesn’t like to spend money unnecessarily. So when it came time to finish out and furnish his new home, he decided to do most of the work himself.
“I’m too cheap to pay retail for furniture and accessories, and I thought I could do some of it on my own,” said Palmer, owner of Palmer’s Supermarket in east Tupelo.
Palmer found the lot for his dream home in Belden in 2007. Then, he found the house.
“There was a house in another subdivision I saw that I liked, and I pointed it out to my golfing buddies – some of them are builders – and they said they could do it,” he said. “They said, ‘Man, we will build you a house,’ and I took them up on it.”
Eight months later, Palmer had his house on a wooded lot with a lake.
“When I first saw it, it had bush six feet tall,” he said. “You couldn’t even see the lake from here. Once they started clearing some of it off, I could see the potential. I liked that it was in a cul-de-sac, that there weren’t any houses behind me.”
Once the house was finished, Palmer tackled the inside. He painted the walls in deep, masculine colors – tans, browns, grays, coppers.
Come October, that color palette may change a bit. On Oct. 1, Palmer will wed his longtime girlfriend, Danielle Smith, on the beach in Destin, Fla.
“There are a few things I’ll change to add a little color,” said Smith, a registered nurse at The Meadows in Fulton. “But for the most part, I like everything the way it is. I may make it a little more girlie instead of so manly.”
In the living area, Palmer first attempted to stain the concrete floors, but that didn’t work as he expected, so he ended up putting hardwood down on top of it.
“The key to doing something yourself is patience,” he said. “You have got to have patience.”
He did find the patience to paint all the white crown molding in the room a copper color and to painstakingly tile the fireplace.
“The hardest thing I did in this house was paint that crown molding,” he said. “I had to put painter’s tape on top of it and below it and keep from dripping paint on the walls. And the only advice I’d give to people who do tile is to get the best knee pads possible. Buy cheap, and you’re going to regret it.”
When it came time to tackle the home’s unfinished second level for his 13-year-old son, Palmer learned how to hang wallpaper.
“I finished the upstairs a couple of years ago when Hayden started hogging the downstairs TV for his XBOX stuff,” Palmer said. “That wallpaper wasn’t easy. It easily took me a day to do each wall, because the pieces had to be matched exactly.”
A little help from mom
After the home was finished. Palmer’s mother, Cecelia, brought in some of her decorator friends to give him advice. They suggested a piece of furniture here, a piece of artwork there.
“But I’m a handyman, a do-it-yourselfer, a money-saver,” Palmer said. “And there was this place in Memphis – I don’t even think it’s there anymore – where you could buy a big slab of wood. I decided to build a custom piece, a one-of-a-kind.”
The end result is a mahogany credenza that rests behind the sofa.
“Then I started thinking, ‘Dadgum. Now I’ve got to have stuff to put on the walls,’” Palmer said.
And so, with no formal training other than an art class in the seventh grade, Palmer began creating paintings for his home.
In the dining room are impressive portraits of three of Palmer’s favorite golfers – Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. In a hallway are portraits of guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Elvis. And in Hayden’s bedroom and the master bedroom, Palmer did some abstracts.
“In the wintertime, when it gets dark so early, I like to have a little hobby. So, I paint in the winter and play golf in the summer,” said Palmer who played golf in high school and at Mississippi State University before playing amateur golf and moving to Orlando, Fla., and turning pro for a few years.
“I moved back to Tupelo and got my amateur status back,” he said. “I play golf about once a week now. I don’t have a foursome. I play at the Natchez Trace, and you pretty much just show up and there’s a game going.”
Backyard shaping up
Not long after moving into the home, Palmer started working on the landscape.
“When I was growing up, I did most of the mowing at home, and I thought, ‘Man, when I grow up I’m not going to have a big yard that I have to mow.’ But that’s exactly what I’ve got, and I actually enjoy mowing it,” he said. “I was pretty much raised that you take pride in your house, your yard and your business. I came about that part honest.”
In the backyard, he’s planted cedars, redbuds, river birch and dogwoods to give interest all year.
“If I ever have a question about plants, I ask my dad,” Palmer said, referring to Buddy Palmer. “He knows all about them.” He also enlisted the aid of landscaper Joel Nichols to help.
Palmer’s next project is to build an outdoor kitchen in the backyard so that he and Danielle can entertain friends and family.
“As soon as we get through this wedding, that’s the plan, but it might be a little bit down the road,” he said. “But that’s OK. There’s always a project going on with a house.”

Click video to hear audio