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Holidays with the Jones Family



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BY SADIE FOWLER | PHOTOS BY ERIN KOSKO

When John and Tracy Jones first married, their first home was a modest duplex across from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, not exactly a place that comes to mind when thinking about luxury or exclusive living. “We owned it, and we were as proud of it as the home we live in today,” said Tracy Jones, wife of real estate developer John Jones, owner of John Jones Real Estate. “I have driven our kids by it more times than they would like to remind them how beauty can take place in all types of homes.”

Considered a master of his trade, John Jones has no doubt earned his spot among the real estate industry’s elite and, as they say, behind every good man is often an equally great woman. While John has worked his tail off over the years to reach the top, Tracy has put forth her fair share of effort as well and easily can be also considered an expert in real estate — only in a different way than John. Tracy, a former teacher turned homemaker, is passionate about living and she believes that all starts in the home.

Equally as important to John and Tracy Jones is the positive influence they are able to make in the community they call home. Through their generous gifts of time, resources and wisdom, the Joneses support a variety of worthy causes and find great joy in helping others however they can.

One of the wisest women of our time, known for being a thinker with an infinitely generous heart, Maya Angelou once stated that a person’s legacy can best be defined as what a person leaves behind — their impact; the lives they’ve touched during their time on Earth.

Though there’s still much to be done and many wonderful years ahead, John and Tracy Jones have already created a legacy that will forever have its place in Murfreesboro’s history by the example they have set.

A quick glimpse into their lives, including their most prized possession — their home — easily and beautifully showcases how they live their lives and what matters most to the Jones family; John, Tracy, Jack, Pruitt, Liza Jane and Mary Margaret.

“I decided to transition into a full-time homemaker and have spent the past 23 years raising four children alongside my husband, John,” Tracy said. “In a family of six, we live fully, meaning we have many messy life moments and much to celebrate. I consider it all beautiful and I work to have a warm home for everyone to retreat to whether we are lamenting or celebrating or somewhere in between.”

Going back to those early days happily spent in their small home across from Oakland High, the Jones’ first home might have been a humble start at best and certainly not one that would mirror the success they’ve achieved at this point in their lives, but nonetheless, Tracy and John likely could live there if they had to. Better yet, Tracy says they could live there happily — because what makes a home a home are the hearts within it.

A self-made man who has climbed the ladder of real estate success with the help of his wife’s hard work at home, John is the epitome of what it means to be living the American dream. Both he and Tracy live by example and have unmatched success by all standard measurements, but the important message that radiates from their hearts is one of gratitude, family, love and enjoying life to the fullest — even when it gets messy.

Their hearts remain humble and both have a desire to give back where they can at each corner — including sharing their expert knowledge about what makes a house a home, and what time could be better to do that than during the weeks surrounding the warmth of the holiday season?

What makes a house a home are the people and life within the home and it is John and Tracy’s belief that — whether your home is in a duplex on the less appealing side of town or a mansion in the country club — indeed, home is where the heart is and where a person or family finds rest, solitude and joy.

First and foremost, Tracy is the kind of optimistic woman who believes that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. As an example to demonstrate her point, Tracy points to their humble first home. It wasn’t even fully furnished, but Tracy made it cozy by using what they had and thankfully some of that included gifts they’d received on their wedding day.

Although not out there in the trenches of real estate in the same way her husband is, Tracy has certainly picked up her own fair share of knowledge over the years and she is nothing short of an expert in her own area of expertise.

“My advice to anyone searching for their first home is don’t overbuy,” she said. “Then, take what you purchase and create a space that reflects your heart, your hopes, your dreams, you and your family.”

The advice is reflective of John and Tracy’s own love story, which eventually led to the haven in which they now live after John surprised Tracy with a once-in-a-life time gift back in the early 2000s.

Built by Lawson Hunter, the Jones’ home is a Stephen Fuller plan and the style is labeled Southern Vernacular, which gives a nod to homes built in the warmer Southern states, especially South Carolina and southern Georgia.

The story of how the two connected with the home is one they will both cherish forever. Tracy recalls driving to a friend’s house in 2001, seeing the home and literally stopping to admire it more closely.

“I saw the home and literally pulled over to take it in, I was drawn to the home’s exterior warmth and curb appeal,” she said. “I repeatedly told the homeowners just that, every time I saw them.”

Apparently, Tracy made her point and after only a short time of living there the owners called John with a pitch. They told him they were selling the home and, since his wife loved it, they thought he may perhaps be interested in buying it for her.

Lucky for the Jones family, John did make the purchase and also made Tracy’s dreams come true.

“It was one of the most extravagant and beautiful gifts John has ever given me,” she said, adding that John’s generosity is matched by his work ethic. “One of the ways John demonstrates his love for us all is by working hard to provide for us … I love how he has also taken his work and added different dimensions to it so that he has opportunities to be creative, whether that is flipping houses, developing residential areas or creating Airbnbs.”

Typically, while John is managing all he does at work, Tracy is pouring herself into the home front. While nothing in life is perfect, both Tracy and John agree they could not adhere to the roles they have chosen in their family dynamics without the support and help of each other.

“With growing children, my day-to-day responsibilities have lessened, so now I have more time to pursue my passions,” she said, explaining their youngest daughter Mary Margaret is the only one who remains in high school and she attends Providence Christian Academy.

The Jones’ home is located in Scottland Chase, near Middle Tennessee State University. When the children were growing up, it was always easy and fun to take in events at MTSU, even nostalgic since John and Tracy grew up in Murfreesboro doing the same.

“John and I had dear friends raised in this very neighborhood so we are sentimental about Scottland,” she said. “The neighborhood is near the schools we chose for Jack, Pruitt, Liza Jane and Mary Margaret and was full of other children for the kids to play with, so it has been a wonderful place to raise a family.”

Even many years later, the family feels beyond blessed to have found their dream home when they did. In fact, because the house was so well-designed and so well-suited for their family and their busy lifestyle, they’ve never had to do a major renovation.

“We have participated in updating the kitchen, adding a bathroom to the playroom and an outdoor fireplace to the patio along with basic cosmetics throughout the years but nothing major.”

As she exhales and smiles, it is with obvious pleasure as Tracy describes her home. In fact, when asked what was the most challenging project or renovation they’ve done over the years, Tracy has to think a bit considering the house has been so well-suited for them and has not needed any major work. Even still, when little projects take place everyone notices.

“My home is my sanctuary, my place to retreat for rest, restoration and relaxation, to read and create and just be...so when my nest is being renovated or updated, it upsets the serenity for a while and bottom line, that always stinks,” she said. “But in the end, it is worth it.”

There are many attributes that make the Jones home unique and special. For Tracy, she loves all of the attention to detail the home displays, from the various layers on the exterior to the inside trim work and pine floors.

“When we bought our home, it was one of the first hardy plank homes in Murfreesboro,” she said. “The exterior is warm and inviting and hopefully, my family and all of the home’s guests feel equally warm, comfortable and eternally welcomed on the inside.”

When choosing décor for their home, Tracy has each of the six family members at the forefront of my mind. She aims to mix beauty, charm and comfort into a trio of perfection.

“Honestly, aesthetics is important to me because I feel like it affects the emotional temperature of the home,” she said. “I want my home to reflect who I am, who John and I are as a couple and who we are as a family. I desire for our home to look lovely, but also for every single guest to feel at home while they are here.”

With the holiday season here, a change in décor is always a task that keeps Tracy busy, and at the Jones’ home there’s a long list of to-dos.

What type of décor inspires her during the holidays? Tracy says there is always a significant amount of Christmas décor around their home.

“It adds so much to the spirit of the season and helps create Christmas cheer,” she said. “I have two exceptional role models who have deeply influenced me, my mother, Betty Pruitt, and my mother-in-law, Jane Jones (owner of The Peddler Gift Shop). They both know how to pull any room together and watching them over the years has given me a bottomless well of ideas from which to draw.”

Sometimes, simply combining their influence does the trick, with a nice blend of three things in mind: John and Tracy’s childhood memories, the love of family, for whom Tracy enjoys decorating, Tracy’s own life experiences, and finally, current trends in décor.

“I am able to find inspiration, and it allows decorating to be fun and come easily,” she said. As wonderful as their experience in their home has been, Tracy finds it hard to believe it’s almost time to celebrate the home’s 20th birthday. On that note, John and Tracy have just begun updating many of the interior colors, window treatments, furniture, light fixtures, rugs, cabinetry hardware, and other such things.

As she reflected over those special 20 years, Tracy pauses as she thinks about the big question of the day: What matters most in a home? Her answer is quite simple: You need to love it.

“What matters most in a home is that it becomes your favorite place on earth, a space you look forward to retreating to every day,” she said. “Your home needs to be where you recharge from your day, where you find serenity, feel well treasured and loved.”

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