Flowered fabrics and bold hues breathe life into a Lake D’Arbonne retreat reinvigorated by the playful aesthetic of Stacy and Tim Lee
WRITTEN BY Meredith McKinnie | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Kelly Moore Clark
Stacy and Tim Lee always imagined retiring to the country where life inevitably slows down, but the opportunity came earlier than expected. As a realtor, Stacy had been involved in property transactions, often selling her own home on the spot if the price was right. After an offer on their home in West Monroe, the couple moved into an RV on Lake Darbonne while they searched for a new place. They met the lady who lived next door in a brown rectangular house on the beautiful lakefront. As time went on, the Lees fell more in love with the area, and when the lady mentioned selling the property, the Lees jumped at the opportunity to make Peaceful Lane their permanent home. The original structure had no personality, as the family used the property primarily on the weekends. Stacy feels God gave the couple this property, as a lakeside home wouldn’t have lasted long on the market. The timing was just right.
The original structure had no porch and small rooms, but the Lees wanted the location. They would have to remodel the house from top to bottom, inside and out. Now, the highlight of the front exterior is the pitched butterfly roof that dictated the style of the house. Stacy had lived in old arts and craft houses and wanted something unique – the butterfly style spoke to her. The exterior brick is painted white, and the wood detail is stained black. Stacy describes her personality as more black and white; she had seen enough of the gray tones in modern construction projects. She wanted the texture of the wood to still stand out, and they settled on a stain just black enough to give the color contrast and retain the wood’s character. The front door is painted Sherwin Williams’ salmon. The couple’s daughter Elizabeth actually spotted the color on a house in New Orleans and got the exact match from the owners. Stacy has always been attracted to the boldness of pink, and the color contrast against the black and white exterior makes the door pop. The mid-century modern style is cool and clean. Stacy avoided traditional landscaping accents. She wanted to feel unencumbered by a garden that required attention. The concrete stones in odd shapes are a unique touch; they throw a kink in the expectations of a walkway. Besides, the house’s real beauty is found in the back.
The foyer is framed with draperies made from Kate Spade fabric. Elizabeth spotted the material and knew her Mom had to have it. Like many of the pieces in Stacy’s home, they have moved with her, having originally framed another window in a prior home. She finds the pieces always manage to fit into a new space. “If I love it, I make it work,” Stacy says. While the house retains its modern feel, Stacy sprinkles her personality throughout the space, with some areas heavily layered with trinkets from her travels, and other spaces less so to give the eye a place to rest. The back of the fireplace features a painting Stacy created in a workshop with Annie Lockhart, an artist from Texas. She loves the painting’s texture and abstract colors. The white lamp features a hand-painted silk lampshade, and the horse, purchased at an estate sale in Houston, reminds Stacy of the time she bottle-fed an Arabian horse for a friend. The plants help accent and bring life to the space. Stacy’s grandmothers had green thumbs; one kept a greenhouse and the other nurtured a garden. The plants connect Stacy to her loved ones. All the accents carry memories, and they help make the house her home.
The new open floor plan allows the kitchen, dining room, and living room to inhabit the same space. Like the open water right outside the house’s back door, Stacy likes her home to feel open and welcoming, accentuating its natural setting. The kitchen island features a black and white tile Stacy they had used in their previous home as a kitchen backsplash, but with this home’s large pantry, upper cabinets were unnecessary. Four blue chairs stand alongside the island, acting as a barrier between the kitchen and living space. Stacy originally wanted pink chairs, but the serene, muddy color suits the space. The black open light fixtures were also found by Elizabeth and were ordered from England. Like the open space, the lightweight texture of the fixtures compliments the space. On the open shelves along the back wall, Stacy displays her treasures, one of the many nooks for memory-evoking pieces.
In the living room sits a pink velvet sofa bought at an estate sale a decade prior. Stacy had always loved a house on Forsythe, and when she spotted an estate sale at the property, she jumped at the chance to peek inside. The sofa’s original fabric was blue damask, but she has since had it reupholstered. The ottoman is a brighter shade of pink chenille and opens for even more storage, having originally been a bed from the 1800s. Stacy appreciates the history of furniture, of repurposing pieces to transform a space and provide genuine character. She can’t imagine ever going into a furniture store and buying something directly off the floor. The black Eames chair was a random find by Stacy’s sister at Goodwill and is actually now a collector’s item. Stacy is not drawn to furniture’s monetary value, but she has an eye for pieces that will retain attention. The fireplace faces the windows spanning the back wall, looking out onto the water. The fireplace is covered in layers of significant pieces, which Stacy often rotates. An old goat wagon sits inside the fireplace, the first antique she ever purchased. On the adjacent wall is a hand embroidered wool wall hanging made by Stacy who loves the layers and textures of wool, velvet, stitching, and embroidery.
The hallway connecting the main living space with the bedrooms has a long white cabinet spanning the length of the wall. Stacked onto the cabinet are numerous pieces from Stacy’s life. The large map was an old rollup school map from a Paris classroom. The clock belonged to her grandmother’s grandmother, and the stirrups were Stacy’s grandfather’s. Stacy says, “If it doesn’t go anywhere else, it goes here.” Elizabeth calls the space her mother’s Cabinet of Curiosity. And again, while none of the pieces have much monetary value, they have memory power, a constant in Stacy’s home.
The master bedroom walls are covered in Sherwin Williams’ Naval paint, a deep cobalt blue. Stacy originally chose black, but the dark color was too dark. The lime green bedding has donned Stacy’s bed for years, long before the couple moved to this home. She didn’t worry about matching the color, as it always finds its own way of settling in. The frames above the bed feature a series of tiny paintings from Tokyo, Venice, France, and Spain. Stacy likes the depiction of sincerity and emotion, of a woman who left with a lover trying to get her back across countries. Some of the pieces Stacy found in travels abroad, and others were bought by friends. The lamps on either side of the bed intentionally don’t match. Stacy likes the idea of pieces belonging only to themselves. Opposite the bed, another of Stacy’s paintings hangs on the wall. This one features half of a woman’s face. Tired of just abstract pieces, Stacy spent weeks sketching faces, often seeing people she knew looking back at her. The drawings had their own personalities, and Stacy was attracted to the uniqueness and familiarity of each face. The painting sits above a brown dresser, oddly with hardly anything atop it. Stacy sees her bedroom as a sacred space, where layered trinkets and sentimental pieces are less necessary.
The guest bedroom pays homage to one of Stacy’s passions with several paintings of Christ. She collects Jesus pieces, each one speaking to her in a different way. Most of them show Jesus holding a lamb, a reminder that God is always there for us, ready to pick us up when we fall. The floral bedding is topped with a quilt made by Stacy. She says she never would have chosen the colors, but sometimes the quilts design themselves. Her interest in quilting started 30 years ago when she picked up her first quilting book by Country Living. She kept checking the book out of the library until eventually buying her own copy. Her quilting room is covered in quilting materials, fabric, and thread. Stacy appreciates the scrappiness of quilting, preferring the old styles constructed of fabric scraps to the more modern, sleek styles coveted at crafting shows. In the corner of the room, Stacy’s desk hosts another collection of trinkets, pictures and treasures that take her back in the past and keep her focused on the present. She calls it her Window of Curiosities.
The bathrooms, though particular in purpose, don’t escape Stacy’s love of creative expression. One bathroom in the hall features a collection of dog depictions, the animal Stacy finds most forgiving and loving. One particular frame showcases her own rescue pup Copper. A woman in England painted the dog’s likeness on a tea bag, and it sits center left of the cluster on the wall. The foyer bathroom is painted in Sherwin Williams Dragon Fruit. The color is bright, and Stacy embraces painting the wall a color that makes her happy. The makeshift shower curtain is repurposed Asian Chintz draperies, another fabric selected from her daughter’s keen eye.
The covered back porch was added on by the Lees and features numerous plants, connecting the interior and outdoors. Raised vegetable beds adorn the left side of the house. The garden is all organic, including untreated dirt and raw wood. A large American flag waves in the breeze off the back porch. The 30 foot-span of windows line the back porch along the interior living space. Stacy wanted floor-to-ceiling glass panels, but settled for the oversized windows, unadorned to let the lake view speak for itself.
Lake Darbonne was dug in 1966, and most of the property surrounding Peaceful Lane is occupied by the original family owners. The structure Stacy and Tim call home was built in 1996 by a couple retiring to the area from Virginia. Many of Stacy and Tim’s neighbors, now in their 60s, grew up together. They welcomed the Lees into their community. Stacy thought leaving town meant moving away from something, but the Lees landed right where they belong. They love their new small community and embrace lakeside living and the home they’ve made their own.