Natchitoches, Louisiana is a town of which most in the US and beyond have never heard of. Located in the Cajun country of central Louisiana, the little city is easy to overlook. However, if you do make your way into Natchitoches, walk along Front Street overlooking Cane River Lake, take a tour of one of their many historic plantation homes, stroll through their picturesque Historic District, or attend one of their plentiful festivals, I assure you, you will be hooked, and this town, while small in size, will leave an impression that is big.
Cane River Lake
They say that good things come in small packages and this could not be more true of Natchitoches. Last year I had the privilege of featuring a home in the city’s Historic District during Natchitoches’ biggest and best event, the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival. At this time of year the city dresses up in its holiday finest and shines more brightly than the showiest star atop the Christmas tree. The town, made famous by the 1989 film, Steel Magnolias, (filmed in Natchitoches) rolls out the red carpet to thousands of visitors who come to take in the sights, enjoy the Christmas parade, partake in Cajun and Creole cuisine and sit on the riverbank to watch the evening fireworks display.
My husband hails from this charming town and it has become a family tradition to road trip it down South each year to take the kids to the festival. We trade in our heavy winter coats for short sleeves, wander from house party to house party drinking Bloody Mary’s and eating until we are about to burst while the kids collect mountains of Mardi Gras beads and candy from the colorful parade (not going to lie, its pretty fabulous!) This year I again had the privilege and pleasure to feature a gorgeous home in the city’s Historic District so generously shared by the homeowners.
While situated on an oversized lot in the heart of the Historic District, the home is actually newly built. Construction began on the stately 6,500 square foot, 5 bedroom, 4 full and 2 half bath home in 2014 with a completion in 2015. The homeowners, along with architect Al Jones of Al Jones Architects, builders, Rhodes Properties & Development, and Interior Designer Melissa Dubroc, took painstaking care to ensure that the home, styled as “mid 1800’s Louisiana Colonial,” would blend seamlessly with the historic neighboring homes.
The home’s exterior gives visitors a first glimpse of the many reclaimed materials used in the building process to evoke an historic feel. The reclaimed brick front walkway beckons visitors to the gracious front gallery that stretches the length of the home.
Rocking chairs, shuttered French doors and handmade copper gas lanterns from Bevolo in New Orleans lend a classic Louisiana feel.
The holiday spirit greets you at the door with a generous and ornate garland in vivid chartreuse greens, reds and twinkle lights draping the entryway.
Adding a bit of whimsy is Santa’s sleigh, built by the homeowner’s family members, which contains Santa hiding in a Christmas tree and elves hiding in his pack.
The front gallery also provides an excellent vantage point for the furriest family member to peruse the neighborhood.
“Must haves” for the homeowners in the building of their home was that it was, “warm and cozy and not too ornate, kid-friendly and a place that just feels like home.”
As you enter the home one can truly appreciate these “wants” and how the homeowners achieved the feel they desired. A cool neutral color palette and abundance of natural light gives the home a light and airy feel and the addition of warm woods in the flooring and beams and the use of exposed bricks provides texture and coziness.
The open stairway is bedecked in a festive holiday garland topped with ribbons in red and golds.
Off the entryway is an office decorated with memorabilia from the homeowner’s beloved Chicago Cubs. Two seats, removed from Wrigley Field during past renovations, sit proudly in their new Louisiana forever home.
In the home’s formal dining room banks of windows, along with soaring ceilings, fill the space with light. An antique china cabinet sits along one wall crowned with a lit garland. The large, classically styled dining room table was built for the home by a local carpenter and furniture builder and is surrounded by 12 (of a set of 14) antique dining chairs. A rug in soothing creams, greys and blues from Revival Antiques & Etc. in Scott, LA anchors the space while a replica antique brass chandelier from French Antique Shop in New Orleans elegantly lights the room.
An antique buffet, topped with candles and holiday accessories, was found in an auction held at the Steel Magnolia House which was the home, in the movie, of the characters played by Julia Roberts, Sally Field and Tom Skerritt.
Upon entering the main living are of the home holiday visitors are welcomed by the homeowner’s vast collection of Nutcrackers. The collection began when the couple’s children were very small with each child receiving one Nutcracker each year. Special occasion Nutcrackers have also been acquired on family vacations and travels, such as the Mickey Mouse Nutcrackers (seen below) which were a gift from a family trip to Walt Disney World.
The living room continues with a calm color palette of neutrals and soft blues warmed by wide plank wood floors and reclaimed ceiling beams from the old American Wool Factory in Manhattan. Large double hung windows frame the family’s 12 foot Christmas tree decorated in chartreuse, red and gold. One of the homeowner’s favorite pieces in the home sits in the living room, their hand-made coffee table. Made from the same local carpenter who built their dining room table, the coffee table was fashioned from extra beams and flooring from the building of the home. “We wanted it to look more polished, not rustic, and it is super heavy. I just love the way it turned out,” the wife said.
The mantle above the large fireplace continues the holiday color scheme with a draping garland festooned with oversize Poinsettia blooms.
Perched above the fireplace is a John James Audubon print of a brown pelican, the state bird of Louisiana, given as an anniversary gift to the couple.
The living area of the home features wide plank reclaimed heartwood pine flooring that juxtaposes to reclaimed brick in the kitchen.
Another “must-have” on the list for the family when building their home was an open concept floor plan between the kitchen and living area. The kitchen is the favorite room of the wife who is an avid baker and cook. “The kitchen is my favorite room in my house,” she said, “I love to cook, to be able to look out over my backyard, and the open concept allows me to stay connected to my kids in the house.”
The bright white kitchen feels clean and fresh with a large center island with barstool seating from Horchow. Counters are topped in a sleek white quartz while reclaimed wood ceiling beams and reclaimed brick laid in a herringbone pattern bring warmth and coziness to the room.
A massive range hood demands attention and makes for an elegant design statement in the space. When designing the hood the wife, “took to Pinterest,” she said. “I pulled inspiration photos and gave them to our architect. He tweaked it a bit and came up with the design. I knew that I wanted it to be a statement in the room. The way it turned out, it’s one of my favorite things in the house.”
An eat-in area in the kitchen sits along a bank of large windows allowing sweeping backyard views.
The spacious kitchen is a perfect gathering spot for family and friends. It is enjoyed by every member of the family, even the four-legged ones.
A powder room off the kitchen is decked with framed holiday-themed drawings by the children, a personal touch that makes this house feel like a home.
An elegant powder room off the living area of the home boasts marble countertops topped with a bronze bowl sink from Linkasink. An antique brass finish mirror from Ballard Designs flanked by antique sconces from French Antique Shop in New Orleans adds an historic feel.
An original painting of cotton copied from a photograph taken at Natchitoches’ Melrose Plantation was commissioned from a neighbor of the family.
The stunning master bedroom suite provides a relaxing escape from the couple’s busy everyday lives. A wall of double hung windows brings the outdoors in while an antique bed with soaring 8 foot tall headboard (received from a family friend) provides an impressive statement in the room.
It’s hard not to experience master bath envy when entering the en suite bath. Classic and elegant Carrera Marble countertops and Arabescato Carrera flooring grace the space. A freestanding Kohler tub frames the far end of the room.
As you make your way upstairs you are met by French doors leading to the upstairs gallery.
The gallery, which stretches the length of the front of the home mirrors the lower gallery with shuttered French doors and Bevolo gas lanterns. From here you can sip your iced tea and channel your inner Scarlett O’Hara as you take in views of the surrounding neighborhood, Bayou Amulet and Cane River Lake.
An upstairs playroom is a retreat for the kids for games and studies.
A colorful and playful tree decorates the room for the holiday season and is adorned with vintage and hand-made (by the children of the house) ornaments and topped with a Frosty the Snowman Top Hat.
An assortment of Louisiana themed children’s book are artfully displayed on overhead shelves. “We want to have things in the home that help the kids to celebrate their Cajun roots,” the wife said. “Our interior decorator (Melissa Dubroc) helped in the arrangement of the books on the shelves to be seen as decoration as well as books. But we love these books and read them all the time. My kids can recite most by heart. Good Night Nola is my favorite.”
In the couple’s son’s room Cubs decor again reigns supreme. There is no questioning this family’s baseball loyalty! A four poster bed, that was the childhood bed of the husband, now passed on to his son, resides in one corner of the room. At the foot of the bed is another hand-me down item from father to son, a solid wood camp trunk. The trunk was used by the husband in his days attending Camp Longhorn and is now used at the same camp by the next generation.
In the son’s en suite bath a stunning herringbone patterned tile floor is a scene stealer. “In all the baths I wanted the walls to be neutral but I wanted each to have a focal point,” the wife said, “to me, the art in this room is the floor.”
The daughter’s room is a young girl’s fantasy haven. Cool neutrals with touches of pink give the room a youthful and feminine atmosphere. A traditional Louisiana styled full tester bed is an antique gifted to the daughter by her grandparents. The stunning bed provides a lovely design element to the space.
Custom dupioni silk drapes in a blush pink frame the windows.
Finishing out the second level of the home is a graciously designed guest bedroom. The Ralph Lauren four poster bed was the first ever furniture purchase by the couple upon their move back to Natchitoches and was acquired at, now shuttered, local interiors store, Choates. The bedding, maintaining a neutral and serene color scheme, is from the Southern Living line at Dillards (similar Here.) A tufted bench from Pier One allows for extra seating.
Custom white silk dupioni silk drapes billow around the windows.
This home is a tribute to traditional and historic southern style living while adapting beautifully to a modern day way of life. The attention to detail and respect for Louisiana heritage is evident in every aspect of this home. The homeowners have masterfully blended the past with the present in this modern-day masterpiece while creating a warm and inviting home in which their family can grow and love for generations. I am thrilled to have been able to share a bit of my husband’s beautiful hometown with you and I encourage you to stop by if you are ever in Louisiana. You will be so glad that you did! Finally, I am so grateful to the homeowners (and our sweet friends) for allowing us into their gorgeous home and bring to my readers a dose of true Southern style and hospitality!