I recently went to visit Will and Misti on a road trip and was able to stay at their home for the night. They moved to Helena a few years ago to start a non profit called Thrive which encourages economic growth in the Mississippi Delta region. Since they have been there Misti has started a company called Reclaimed Helena. They bought this home in downtown Helena and restored it to what it is now, a home with loads of character full of family heirlooms and pieces from friends.
Will + Misti Staley
Will is Co-Founder and Creative Director for Thrive, a non-profit design firm set in rural America. www.thrivecenter.org
WS / Little Rock, Arkansas
MS / Douglasville, Georgia
WS / The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
MS / So many! Current read Wild by Cheryl Strand
WS / A tie between Forrest Gump and A River Runs Through It
MS / I am Sam- It makes me cry every time!
WS / Cut Copy
MS / Bjork
Favorite TV Show:
WS / Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
MS / Jeopardy
WS / Southern Gourmasian - Little Rock, Arkansas
MS / Taste of Thai- Douglasville, Georgia
Favorite place you have traveled to:
We love traveling! We met while traveling through Europe. Will's group basically followed around Misti's group because we actually had plans of where we were staying. After Europe I would visit Will in NYC and he would visit me in Atlanta. We would also each fly to a certain city and meet up there for a few days. Our entire first years of our relationship involved traveling. It is hard to pick just one place that was a fav. Will's favorite is Barcelona, Spain - Misti's is Kyoto, Japan.
Next destination on your list to travel to:
I, Misti, would love to visit Thailand and India. Will would rather spend a few weeks on the beaches of Greece. That's fine with me too! Ha!
What you like about your city:
Helena is such an exciting place to be right now. Helena was called "Little Chicago" in the 20s and 30s. Helena had it all. It was a booming metropolis set on the Mississippi River. Around 1970, industry left and so did many of Helena's residents. Over the last few years Helena has started making a comeback. Living here offers so many great opportunities for people our age. Opportunities that would have never been available when we lived in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. We both serve on lots of boards and community groups, own our own businesses, and are super involved. Most importantly - we've made friends with people of all ages here in Helena and they support us in ways we could have never imagined before moving here. We feel like we have joined a team.
Reason for moving into current home:
I can't believe that we own a home! It is also unbelievable how affordable it is to own a home in Helena if you enjoy putting a little work into it. There are so many great, old homes to revitalize. We qualified for a low interest home loan that also included money for all of our construction improvements. We put tons of sweat and elbow grease into our home from tiling our kitchen, to turning our upstairs into an entirely separate apartment that we can rent out for regional festivals - like the King Biscuit Blues Festival. If you love old homes and have dreamed about fixing one up, your should move to Helena!
We have received so many beautiful pieces in our home from family. We love that each piece has a story behind it. Our dining table was given to us by Will's parents. Will has memories of many hours of math tutoring at that table when he was younger. Our soon- to-be, baby's crib was Will's sister's crib when she was a baby. We hand painted our dinning room wallpaper. Mrs. Netta, who owned our home before us (That is one great thing about Helena, everyone refers to homes by names of people who have lived there in the past) was also an artist. She hand painted dark green into each leaf on the wallpaper to match the dark green she had painted below the chair molding. We continued that legacy and painted out a lot of the 1990s background busyness with light green, painted a lighter green drybrush over that and added highlights and shadows to each flower and leaf.
Favorite or most meaningful piece in your home:
WS / The butcher block top in our kitchen. I grew up with it in my kitchen when I was younger. My parents bought it from a butcher shop when they were first married. All butcher shops used wooden butcher blocks and would have to change them out after a specific number of years. It has so much character and history.
MS / I love the stemware cabinet in our dining room that Will's parents gave to us. It is two separate pieces that they found at garage sales in McLean, VA. They stacked them using an old door in-between. It is beautiful. And of course, the Wolf range that my parents bought for us as a housewarming present/Christmas gift and I joke around that it is my birthday present for the rest of my life.
Biggest challenges with your space:
Our ceilings are 12 ft. Will is 6'5" and likes to utilize all of that height. I'm 5'7", bring on the step stool, or in some cases the ladder!
Dream house and city:
WS / A modern home in Mexico or Spain on the beach with a terra-cotta tile roof. A hammock and an instant knowledge of fluent Spanish.
MS / I love our house, so maybe something totally different. Ultra modern, full of glass walls, but antiques and older pieces mixed in. Maybe California or someplace warm, minus mosquitoes/bugs. Close to an international airport.
Kitchen: I always have something brewing, growing, or fermenting on our counter top. This week it's sprouts and NORA tea, some weeks its kombucha, kefir, or kimchi.
Living room: This photo was taken during our Reclaimed Helena photo staging day. We took these photos for our website and our Kickstarter campaign. I would love if everyone reading this would watch our Kickstarter video. It gives you an awesome look into Helena. Become a backer and support the Delta, any support amount matters. $50 or more and you receive a custom wood piece.
Entry: Our piano came with the home. We need to have it tuned and a few of the keys don't work, maybe now that we are having a child we will get it working so he can take piano lessons.
Hall: We have a kind of folk art gallery in our hallway. The piece is the middle is by Sammy Landers a folk artist from Arkadelphia, AR. The found object Box with Horse is by Daniel Davison. We traded art years ago, maybe 2005, when I painted portraits of his sister, Katie's, dogs to look like Napoleon and his wife. It creeps a lot of people out, but I love it.
Bedroom: Our bedroom picture was also taken on our Reclaimed Helena photo staging day. You can see the RH Coffee Table used as a Bed End Table, the Breakfast in Bed Table and our Wood Art Piece on the wall. We have our soon to be baby boy's crib in our bedroom for now.
Studio: We spend a lot of hours in our art studio. It's nice to sit at the drawing desk and watch the birds in the backyard.
Bathroom: We both love the original claw foot tub in the bathroom. We painted it black and re-guilded the feet. We will tile the floor in a black and white hexagon tile this year.
Watch Reclaimed Helena's video and support their kickstarter campaign at:
View Misti's artwork at:
Learn more about Thrive at: