There’s a feeling you get once you step through the door. It’s a feeling found in the many layers of paint laid on the walls. It’s in the unique kitchen backsplash of broken dishes and anomalous objects. It’s in the remodeled garage, worn home-school lesson books, dozens of dried flowers hanging in the back room saved from special occasions and the displays of family photos framed though out.
Shannon Cross’ house looks like it belongs in the center spread of a design guru’s catalog, but that is not what is so special about it. It is a house that is not just a house; it is a home.
Having only lived in the 1929 mint brick home for six years, Shannon has completely enhanced the space into an elegant living residence with a heavy influence of herself, her travels and, most importantly, her family.
“It’s a home that’s decorated, but it’s not just for looks,” Shannon says. “It’s not a show place. It’s our home that we feel comfortable in.”
Native to Tyler, Shannon returned to the Rose City after 30 years away. Recently divorced at the time with three of her six children still to raise, she was in need of somewhere her family could call home.
“I think my soul is more planted here,” Shannon says. “Colorado is beautiful. There are so many things I love about it, but East Texas is my home.”
Having home-schooled all six children, Shannon developed an interest in teaching and completed her master’s degree in history. She obtained a teaching position at Tyler Junior College in the history department.
“It’s an awesome department with fun people, and I love my students every semester,” Shannon says. “I think God really plugs us in to exactly where we need to be.”
When first returning to Tyler, Shannon and her three youngest children, Abby, Betsy and Caleb, resided in a two-story house on Dobbs Street, but as her three youngest became young adults, Shannon was ready to move to a smaller house.
“I wanted to get in a smaller house, and I wanted one that I knew we could make memories in before everyone went off to college,” Shannon says. “So that when they came back, they would have some connection with it.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Shannon’s youngest daughter Betsy, who lived in the house for about four years, says she her favorite part of the home was the welcoming atmosphere. “Anyone was welcome in our home. When I was hanging out with friends, we always ended up at my house, usually hanging out with my mom. Even when I went off to A&M for college, my friends would regularly call me and tell me they were at my house in Tyler,” Betsy says.
The floor plan, molding and other structural touches reflect a cottage-style home, like many of the older Tyler houses in the Azalea District.
“I didn’t do it as an investment thing. I knew there were things I wanted to do to it when we first moved in, but it has the structure and the design that I like so much,” Shannon says. “I told my kids they are going to have to carry me out of this house in a stiff horizontal position.”
Just about every room in her home exhibits a ‘to-do’ project completed by her and her kids own handy work. Each of her children know how to handle power drills, safely saw, grout title, rip up linoleum and paint like almost professionals through the many home improvement experiences completed through the years.
Seven discarded paint samples later, the living room is painted with an original paint color created by Shannon and the patient paint department employee at Home Depot to achieve her envisioned balance of yellow and khaki color.
“I decided that if you make your own color you get to name it, so I named it ‘Muddy Camel’” Shannon says.
The kitchen houses a unique countertop backsplash homemade from collected broken dishes and knick-knacks assembled, glued and cemented during a weekend while her second daughter, Abby, was home to lend a helping hand and to motivate Shannon to complete her well talked about to-do.
“It was so much fun and it didn’t really cut us up too bad,” Shannon says. “I really enjoy doing stuff like that with my kids.”
There are dozens of other proud projects completed around the house at the hands of Shannon and her helpful children, but all would agree it’s the time spent and the relationships made in the home that make Shannon the special woman she is.
“My mother is what held our family together, and she made me the person I am proud to be today,” says her eldest son, Micah Joseph. “Every project, whether necessary or ridiculous, I am happy to help her with because I know she will teach me something, and I am glad to give back to her.”
As a mother of six young adult children, Shannon has developed her own philosophy to raising successful humans. “I think there is something about always being on your kids’ side in a realistic way,” Shannon says. “I remember telling one of them in particular, ‘I am the president of your fan club because I can’t help myself.’ I think that does something for them to know that you are there for them even when they do stupid stuff. Then they get to be adults and you still get to have good relationships with them.”
Her six children range from ages 33 to 19 and live across the country. Shannon has reached the point in her life when she is happy to travel to keep up with them and her three grandchildren. “I have fun relationships with all of them and they all turned out to be pretty neat people all by the grace of God, it could have gone the other way so easily,” Shannon says. “It’s different and funny how life works out; I seem to be still chasing my kids just across country now.”
Shannon plans on continuing to travel with her children, teach her students and live in the home she has established for all. “I am at such a good spot in life,” Shannon says. “I’ve decided that part of the role of a mom as she gets older is to let the kids know in our very young society, that there are some wonderful things to getting old and to always know where home is at.”