Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
As Kyle and Stephanie Tootle can attest, home is more important than ever.
And that has kept the couple, co-owners of Tootle Homes, very busy lately. With real estate inventory low during the pandemic, clients are turning to the couple to design and build their perfect home.
MAKING DREAMS REALITY
“From our client’s first Pinterest picture to walking in the front door after turning over the keys, we strive to ensure our client’s new home exceeds their expectations,” Kyle says.
His foray into home design began in high school. While taking design classes, the aspiring entrepreneur learned how to put his ideas to paper.
“I would design houses and present them to my girlfriend, who is now my wife, and she would critique my designs,” Kyle recalls. “While at Mississippi State University pursuing my degree in civil engineering, I would sketch homes on engineering paper when a lecture got uninteresting.”
Those doodles proved to be precursors to his future. The couple founded Tootle Homes in 2015 and started designing and building shortly after. They initially constructed only custom homes but expanded into spec homes in 2018.
Tootle Homes is located in Tradition, a master planned community in Harrison County, which the couple chose for their business because it is where they call home. As a design build firm, it puts every aspect of the new home process under one roof. According to Kyle, the business specializes in “’new-old homes’ with classic Southern style and modern conveniences that are architecturally appropriate to the communities in which we build.”
“It has been truly amazing to see how the Lord has taken a dream and turned it into a reality,” he adds. “In college, I told Stephanie that ‘I’m going to build things, and she’s going to make things look pretty.’”
CREATING JOYFUL, COMFORTABLE SPACES
Alongside Tootle Homes, Stephanie has launched her own interior design and event-planning business, Design Social. Through Design Social, she can work with homeowners during construction on finish selections, kitchen and bath designs and more. She’s also developing business relationships beyond Tootle Homes, providing interior design services for residential and small commercial clients.
When it comes to color, whites, creams and light gray color palettes have been popular for a while, and Stephanie believes they are here to stay.
“The classic, neutral canvas we create during construction enables our homeowners to add their personal style when they move in,” she adds, “although I am not afraid of a little color.”
As for design trends, Kyle says outdoor entertaining space and front porches are popular right now. Open floor plans are still sought after, he adds, but people seem to want a little more separation between spaces to define each area of the home. Painted brick homes are trending too, he says, “which fits well within our ‘new-old-house’ Southern style.”
While tastes may vary and change, the Tootles don’t deviate from their mission.
“We want our clients to be happy in their homes,” Stephanie says, “and we strive to create spaces where they can find joy and comfort.”
FOCUSING ON FAMILY
Through personality tests and studies with their church’s Sunday school life group, the Tootles have found that their strengths and weaknesses are completely opposite — yet they complement each other. Each spouse brings balance to the other’s life, and they encourage one another in ways that help grow their businesses.
“Stephanie is one of the few people who tells me exactly what I need to hear versus what I want to hear,” Kyle says.
While working with the Tootles, clients are likely to meet Lillie Bell the couple’s maltipoo, who serves as their greeter and housing critic, and Ellie Davis; their infant daughter and Stephanie’s “design assistant.” Each day spent working together brings the couple a lot of laughter.
“We literally drive each other crazy with our antics, but we truly believe that we were meant to work together and build something bigger than ourselves,” Stephanie says. “The days when we are planning the interior finish selections for a new project while Ellie Davis plays on the floor of the office are some of our favorite working memories.”
BUILT ON A FIRM FOUNDATION
Despite their dedication to the business, the Tootles make a conscious effort to spend time together as a family without “talking shop.” Their faith is central to their lives, and everything they’ve accomplished personally and professionally, they attribute to God’s love, mercy and grace.
“We are built on a firm foundation,” Kyle says, “and make sure we listen to the Lord’s guidance in every step we take in our businesses.”
The high school sweethearts view the future with excitement and look forward to serving the community by continuing to provide quality housing. Seeing how excited their clients are to start creating memories in their new homes, Kyle says, makes all the hard work worth it.
“When you are doing what you love and what you feel the Lord is leading you to do,” he adds, “your work seems very rewarding.”