Julie Spears has brought a new vision to Oxford.
The young architect has found a following in her hometown that appreciates beauty, uniqueness and class all rolled into one home or commercial business. Her childhood passion has now been transformed into an adult architectural design business that is getting noticed. I interviewed her recently at her home in midtown Oxford.
HottyToddy.com: Julie, what pathway led you to our beautiful city?
Julie Spears: Actually, I’m from Oxford and went to Oxford High School. I grew up on Country Club Road and now live only a block away.
HottyToddy.com: Tell us about your family.
Julie Spears: I met my husband, Daniel, in Oxford also, who is a Special Ed Teacher at North MS Regional Center on Highway 7. We have three wonderful children: Jack (3); Samuel (20 months) and Phoebe (3 months).
HottyToddy.com: Julie Spears Architecture is well known here in Oxford. How did your company evolve?
Julie Spears: I graduated from MSU with a degree in Architecture in 2002. For eight years, I worked with Howorth & Associates until 2009. That is when I went into business for myself. I am now in my sixth year.
HottyToddy.com: Your success is most impressive especially with building a family along with the structures for your clients.
Julie Spears: Word of mouth has been my blessing. Friendly service while delivering a good product is the foundation for my work.
HottyToddy.com: What are you most proud?
Julie Spears: Regarding my Oxford projects, one of the first homes that I was retained for was a new construction on Price Street. It has many modern aspects but fits well in the established neighborhood.
HottyToddy.com: Can you describe it for us?
Julie Spears: The house features a courtyard in the middle. The kitchen faces a small living space as well as the courtyard and is ideal for gathering. The house is between 3,500 and 4,000 square feet and embraces a “cluster” effect which utilizes connectors and does not make the house feel too large for the neighborhood.
HottyToddy.com: I admire this house every time I drive by on Price Street. It truly is an attention getter!
Julie Spears: The front sidewalk connects to the front door via a wooden bridge due to the elevation differences. There are lots of windows that face the courtyard and an eyebrow window that faces the street brings much light into a vaulted living room area.
HottyToddy.com: Approximately how long were you engaged with this project?
Julie Spears: The architectural plans took me between nine months to a year. The house was about a year in construction. I was pleased that the clustering effect worked so nicely.
HottyToddy.com: Another aspect of this house that I truly like is the exterior color selected. Do architects often recommend colors as well?
Julie Spears: Yes we do. With this project, I also had the good fortune to have worked with Rebecca Stevenson who is an Interior Designer from Jackson.
HottyToddy.com: Do you primarily limit yourself to Oxford projects or will you accept business away from here?
Julie Spears: I will consider projects out of town, but there has been enough demand in Oxford to keep me busy. I will not take on more than 5 clients at any given time in order that I can devote sufficient attention to each project.
HottyToddy.com: Tell us about other building requests you have been engaged.
Julie Spears: Most of my projects are residential and vary in size from the design of screened porches; kitchen renovations; outdoor kitchens; renovations and additions to existing homes and new construction. Additions and renovations are most commonly requested. I also am involved in a few small commercial projects. Two in Oxford that immediately come to mind are the South Depot Taco Shop on Van Buren and Oxford University Bank.
HottyToddy.com: What is the value of retaining an architect?
Julie Spears: First, the project is unique. I like to think the designs are not identifiable as a style specifically branded to “Julie;” each one is unique because each client and each site are different. Second, there are often creative details that neither an engineer or a builder may consider. I enjoy finding second functions to a wall or ledge and bringing an artistic character to a space giving it personality.
HottyToddy.com: If not your family and business are keeping you occupied enough, are you also not actively engaged in community affairs?
Julie Spears: I am one of the nine members serving on the Oxford Historic Preservation Commission and am the only architect. I was appointed by the mayor in 2009. There are
five historic districts that we oversee.
HottyToddy.com: Isn’t it ironic that you are having such an impact now on your childhood community where you were raised?
Julie Spears: I knew that I wanted to become an architect since the 8th grade when I did a report on the profession. I enjoy the personal connection of having an impact on the city I grew up in and keeping it beautiful.
HottyToddy.com: Are there special buildings and cities that stand out for you?
Julie Spears: In Oxford some of my favorites are Ventress Hall; City Hall and the Flamingo. There are several houses on both North and South Lamar that are “gems” as well as many others around town. Cities in Mississippi that feature amazing buildings would include, but are not limited to are Jackson; Natchez; Vicksburg; New Albany; Ocean Springs; Columbia; and
Holly Springs just to name a few.
HottyToddy.com: What is the preferred way for interested parties to reach you?
Julie Spears: Simply by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This young professional is truly an asset to the city she loves so much and beyond. Julie exemplifies what can be accomplished if you have both a passion and a focus for whatever you desire. Oxford is blessed that someone with so much creative talent is right here in the midst of all of the growth and excitement that is occurring.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call him at (985) 852-7745.