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By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Home
Jun 30th, 2019

Could you be in the Texas Hill Country or perhaps the Shenandoah Valley? Perched high on a bluff overlooking Lake D’arbonne, the home of one of Farmersville’s prominent power couples is sited to take advantage of sweeping 360 degree views of the fisherman’s paradise reservoir and its surrounding hills and verdant forests.


The exterior of the home is a modern interpretation of French Acadian style with ridge tiles enforcing the lines of the elegant, hipped roof. Two large and substantial columns lead guests to the front door. Modern containers by Veradex are filled with traditional plantings of spiral topiaried juniper, ivy, huechera and portulaca and are placed strategically between three French doors with arched transoms.

The front veranda features a brick floor and generous double height ceiling. A brick archway creates a beautiful vignette of an adjacent bluff and the pond below. Gas lanterns flicker and lead the way to the home’s entry.

Once inside, the power of the place and the quality of the light begins to take hold. To carry out the homeowners’ vision of their ultimate lake home, the couple enlisted the help of Ruston interior designer Julie Mays of Julie Mays Interiors, a trusted design partner who translated wishes into reality. Says Julie of her dream clients, “They knew what they wanted, and I just facilitated the execution, gave them choices and selected materials.”

“The entire home reverberates with light energy,” says Julie, who is known for her skillful use of color and how color reacts with different sources of light and environment. Explains the designer, “My fundamental love for color as a key design element was reinforced during my time at the University of Arkansas, where I received my degree in Interior Design, with a minor in Studio Art. One class in particular, a deep study of Color Theory presented by a visiting professor from Harvard, made a permanent impression on me. I realized that all colors are built upon adjacent colors. This constant affects every decision I make. My hyper awareness of this fact has completely changed my outlook on design, choosing fabrics, paints, natural verses LED lighting, and design interaction with nature.”

For maximum impact in the home’s foyer, Julie chose a Ronald Redding wall covering and a custom runner made especially for the entry, coordinating the rugs pattern and thread colors with the cream, grey and gold palette. The entryway’s credenza features a modern, limed grey finish with square acrylic pulls. A gold and mother of pearl lamp by Gabby echoes the pendant above, and hide covered stools on delicate gold legs add balance. Throughout the home, custom designed lighting by Chris Hart of Hart Lighting provides perfectly proportioned illumination and use of a richly stained hardwood flooring adds a unifying element.

The powder bath just beyond the foyer is packed with covetable design details, like jewelry-like fixtures, an adorable quartz-topped tissue holder, a mirrored waste basket, and a shower with hexagon tile flooring and a modern, vertical placement of wall tiles. A mixed media abstract painting by Ruston’s Maggie Boudreaux creates a harmonious balance of colors.

Julie describes her assistant, Staci Stucki, as a super sleuth, able to track down elusive and unusual materials for projects. One such find was the effective and efficient cabinetry hardware for the home’s laundry room. Sourced from IKEA, door pulls are long and practically hidden, yet give easy access for opening drawers when hands are full.

With spectacular views of Lake D’Arbonne from every vantage point within the home, the designer knew where attention would be focused. “The windows are the art for me,” explains Julie. “I paid close attention to the way the light changes within the house based on the reflection of light off the water. We chose all the wall colors based on the environment and how the house interacted with the environment.”

Every detail of the home was planned to perfection. “Drapery in the dining room is crafted like a modern wedding dress, offering shine, matte and sumptuous softness to the windows which look out onto the back gardens and beyond to the lake. The panels are hung from gold-toned zip rods with acrylic ends and long golden pulls which makes opening and closing drapery as easy as the breezes blowing across the lake. The George III gilt wood mirror in the dining room is one of the family heirlooms that made its way to the new home. The wood dining table is softened by microsuede upholstered Parsons-style chairs.

Says the designer, “When I plan a room, I always want to make sure the most important thing in that room is what you see when you walk in.” The Great Room offers commanding views of Lake D’Arbonne. A contemporary rug of muted wool and silk provides the ground-level drama. Tall gold-toned table lamps by Bliss create the perfect mood for the house. A grey velvet sofa is enlivened with custom handpainted silk pillows. Flanking either side of the fireplace, the designer has placed demilune consoles with soft-toned abstract paintings above each. Conversations here are given special treatment with comfy lounge chairs that swivel to take advantage of every view.

The open concept kitchen is filled with hidden amenities. A walk-in pantry is revealed behind cabinetry doors. A Thassos marble and mother of pearl tile from Ann Sacks employed as the kitchen’s backsplash mimics the shininess of ripples on the surface of the lake. A graceful and soaring custom range hood in a contrasting stone hue draws the eye upward. Sleek white cabinetry is dressed with gold tone hardware. A trio of pendant lights from Hart Lighting provide task lighting above the island which is ample enough for four custom grey shagreen bar stools with gold rings. Two paintings by Ruston-based artist Maggie Boudreaux offer artful counterpoints beneath tall upper cabinets.

In the master bedroom, Julie selected colors, which repeat the water’s hues and are found within the important room-sized heirloom rug underfoot. Serene and soothing are keywords for creating a masterful retreat for the busy couple. Two large abstract paintings, which Julie found in High Point, North Carolina, are creatively framed on a linen backing and given a reflective quality with a clear acrylic shield. Navy velvet upholstered gold chairs emphasize the bold hue found in the rug. The king size upholstered and palladium-leafed bed is luxuriously appointed in a pebbled matelassé coverlet with custom silk accent pillows. At bedside, Julie has installed a pair of cabinets with ivory and metal ring drawer pulls and light as air acrylic legs. Drawers are custom papered and offer hidden charging stations within an arms reach for personal devices.

Windows in the master suite are covered by black-out Roman shades crafted from a luxe silk fabrication. Says Julie, “Roman shades are wonderful as they provide privacy and tailored coverage without hanging to the floor.” An ingenious cabinet beneath a bank of windows looking out onto the lake hides a pop-up television.

During a visit to Julie’s office, the homeowner saw a sample of the whimsical dragon wallpaper pinned to Julie’s “Inspiration Wall” and fell in love with it. In the master’s en suite bathroom, a bold Carleton V dragon wall covering provides a statement wall behind the freestanding oval soaking tub. Behind that central wall lies a double shower with glass doors on either side. Large rectangular tile flooring adds coolness. His and hers vanities are created with light painted cabinetry topped with Carrara marble counters with undercounter square-shaped sinks. Mirrors in the master bath and throughout the home were custom framed by Lead Terry, owner of The Frame-Up in Ruston. Bahama shutters, sourced from Smith Blind and Awning, provide privacy in the bathroom. In the dressing area, Julie employs the light-catching and weightless quality of acrylic, using the material as the curving, arched legs of navy velvet vanity stool in the dressing area.

The hallway which leads to guest rooms features a large abstract painting by Ruston artist Shelly Nealy. Keeping with the color scheme established, the guest room’s focal point is a golden-hued double bed by West Elm appointed with navy bedding with white and grey accents. An acrylic lamp by John Richard at bedside is reminiscent of the lake’s horizon lines.

In the Jack and Jill guest bath, cloud paintings by Rachel Evans, a Savannah College of Art and Design student, were sourced by Julie while she was on a trip to the East Coast. A custom shower curtain with ample double width and a replaceable, snap-off lining is placed on a zip line rod, offering ease of opening.

Living areas extend outside to take full advantage of sweeping views and breezes blowing off the lake. The outdoor living room features a faux wood tile and a state of the art outdoor kitchen with cypress cabinets topped with honed black granite. Julie enlisted Smith Blind and Awning to create custom shutter and mesh blinds which raise and lower with the touch of a remote control button. An industrial sized stainless gas grill is the centerpiece of the working kitchen and is topped by a custom cypress hood. Julie’s assistant, Staci, sourced indoor/outdoor rugs which add softness and color to the outdoor spaces. A teak dining table and chairs is the setting for family and friend get-togethers. The back porch seating areas include a grey woven chaise found at The Patio Place and a pair of turquoise teak lounge chairs, strategically placed for mornings spent sipping coffee and watching sunrises over the lake.

While the couple have only been in their home for the last six months, the gardens and landscaping are quickly maturing. Pollinator-loving Vitex trees bloom with purple spires and are buzzing with insects toward the back of the property. Azaleas, crepe myrtles and globes of agapanthus keep the eye’s interest grounded with color and texture in the landscape, while Mississippi kites bring the eye toward the heavens to watch their aerial acrobatics above.

The lure of the piney hills of Louisiana is strong and pulls you to this place built high above the lake, yet close enough to enjoy the majesty of nature in a home that reflects that beauty.