A Taste of Tradition

By Sarah Raines


Sheila and Gavin Rees always dreamed of moving back to Mississippi’s College Town after retirement, and in April of last year, they did just that, moving into a home they had built and designed just for them.

The couple are both Mississippi natives, 1978 graduates of Mississippi State University, and decided to settle back down near their Bulldogs after careers that took them all over the United States.

The traditional southern features of the house reflect its owners’ personalities, with spacious rooms and hallways and one floor for the couple to grow old together in.

Sheila Rees said the design of the house was based around a Greek revival look, with red brick and a large front porch like Monticello, and set back from the road to allow for a large yard and plenty of buffer room between the home and the light traffic of Belmont Park neighborhood in Starkville.


“We have four bedrooms and made the bedrooms very large, hoping that we have lots of Mississippi State company coming in for ball games, so that our guests could feel like they were actually at home in their bedrooms,” Rees said.


The living area of the house is large and open, with a kitchen and family room that open onto a large back porch and an English garden-style backyard. A long, narrow water with a bench allows for cooling off in the hot Mississippi summers and red brick walls surround the outside of the backyard, allowing for privacy and coziness.


A library with floor to ceiling leather bound books displays English major Sheila Rees’s collection, centered around a hand-painted portrait of their daughter, Jennifer, on her wedding day. A butler’s pantry also displays the couple’s collection of fine silver.

Tracey Millsaps, owner of Tracey Millsaps Interior Design, has been helping homeowners create their perfect houses for 30 years. After working for two separate companies in the area, Millsaps decided to branch out and create her own business.

Millsaps helped the Rees family build their house from the ground up, weighing in on details to make the home special for the couple.

“Sheila really used her decorative passion in her furnishing and placement, but I weighed in on their house plans and architectural elements and some cabinetry they used,” Millsaps said.


Millsaps helped the Rees family choose elements from flooring and cabinetry to lighting. Her favorite aspect of helping families create the home of their dreams is to help them from the beginning.

“I do love when they start with the house plans,” Millsaps said. “I love going from the ground up. But furnishings, rugs, draperies, wallpaper, and all of that is what I do.”

For Sheila and Gavin Rees, their new home is one they can see themselves staying in and entertaining guests for the rest of their happily ever after.