Dreams in Blue
ARTICLE BY VANELIS RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY MOORE CLARK
Design and Coordination: Strickland Interiors, Jan Hales Strickland, Allied ASID
Construction Contractor: Bradley Allen, BRACO Construction
House Plans: Ray Bendily Home Design
Landscaping: Bradley Hall, Riverside Landscaping
Interior Staging Furnishings and Decor: Jo Tiffany Faulk, Sleepy Hollow Furniture
Neighborhood: Frenchman’s Bend
National Sponsors: Bosch, Brizo, TRANE, Shaw Flooring, Kichler Lighting
For the first time in over two years, the St. Jude Dream Home® Giveaway held an open house. Due to the pandemic, the last two homes were only available for viewing virtually, and this year the community was more than ready to explore the dedicated and creative handiwork of the incredible sponsors in our Northeast Louisiana community. “So many people give so much time, money, and effort to raise this for St. Jude. It doesn’t just magically happen. It’s hard work,” says Jan Strickland, the lead designer of this year’s home and five-year veteran contributor for the event. Buzzing excitement began as soon as tickets became available, all 8000 being claimed in an impressive 34 days, making this St. Jude Dream House the fastest-selling for the area. “To think that this house raised $800,000 is huge. Mind-blowing,” enthuses Strickland. Not only is the Northeast Louisiana fundraiser a testament to our community’s generosity, but the home itself is a love token to the many children who receive treatment, travel, housing, or food free of charge from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The many hands involved in this project are more than aware of its importance and far-reaching impact. Jo Tiffany Faulk, owner, and president of Sleepy Hollow Furniture (and a seasoned sponsor) has personal experience with the benefits St. Jude offers thanks to committed fundraising. “I’ve watched a friend leave her home, job, and life as she knew it, willing to do whatever it took to be with her child. Year after year, test after test, treatment after treatment, she and her husband fought childhood cancer until her kiddo reached remission,” she says, adding, “I sponsor the St. Jude Dream Home because it’s how I can help raise money to fight alongside the parents fighting for their kids.” In the same vein, when she was asked to join the St. Jude Dream House team five years ago, Strickland also eagerly joined with a childhood friend in mind, Tiffany Suann Greer, who lost her battle with cancer at 16 years old. Greer remains at the forefront of Strickland’s mind every year, from the beginning stages to the final touches.
On the last day of the open house, Strickland greeted me at the front entrance of a colonial-style home. Two black copper gas lanterns, compliments of Hart Designs Lighting and Iron Works, framed the doorway while a globe light fixture marked a dark gray windowed door donated by Russell-Moore Lumber Inc. Beaming with enthusiasm, she ushered me into the open dining room, living room, and kitchen area. Light, creamy wood-paneled flooring donated and installed by Holton Flooring & Interiors contributes to the crisp elegance of the cozy space. “I can’t say enough about Holton Flooring because they brought, like, their entire crew in…to get this job done on schedule on time and they did a fantastic job. So shout out to Micah Holton, the owner,” says Strickland. While the walls are painted with Sherwin Williams’ High Reflective White, the expansive counters of the kitchen and living room pop out in two distinct tones of light grayish-blue. “I really wanted a serene feel,” explains Strickland about the interior, so when she found one of the colors she leaned into that feel. “Which is funny, the name of it is Sleepy Hollow and that’s who does the furniture staging, so it kinda was just the perfect shade of blue.”
The kitchen’s gravitational pull extends beyond the sleek shaker-style cabinets coming out of Woodlands Custom Cabinets. “One of the major features that I love about this house is the hood,” says Strickland, pointing at a white curved range hood vent with gold lining. The color finishes on the hood were completed by Amy Simmermaker, custom art creator. “She played with the lighting and made it the right shade, so it is a fully customized painted hood,” informs Strickland. In harmony with the color palette of the kitchen are the mesmerizing quartz countertops, a fan favorite. Joe Gremillion, owner of Twin City Granite installs the countertops every year.
A closer look around the kitchen reveals top-of-the-line machinery supplied by Coburn’s of West Monroe and made by Bosch Home Appliances, a St. Jude Dream House national sponsor. Under the customized hood, a futuristic stovetop peeks from the countertop. Not only is it touchscreen, but it also connects to the home’s WiFi. Also integrated into the cabinets is Bosch’s double electric wall oven and built-in, fully electric espresso machine, which is truly the new must-have item. “But,” Strickland emphasizes as she moves to a tall cabinet door located on the right-wing of the kitchen, “this is the cool factor.” She opens the door, and a spacious hidden pantry is flooded by natural light from an oval window, exposing white, wall-lined shelves, and 1920s-style petal encaustic ceramic tiles. “You have to walk through it to fully experience it,” says Strickland with gusto, shouting out draftsman Ray Bendily who always manages to throw in “neat little features” like this delightful surprise.
As Strickland guided me into the primary bedroom suite, Sleepy Hollow Furniture’s furnishings and décor took centerstage. From the upholstered bed frame, accent rug, and metal etagere display shelf, to the accents on display like two crystal balls reminiscent of my favorite childhood movie Labyrinth, the end result is “simple elegance with little gems of luxury throughout,” as Faulk describes. One of these “gems of luxury” is unmistakably the palatial primary bathroom–large, white marble tiles, brass light fixtures, a spacious walk-through shower, and LCR tub. “Cool factors,” as Strickland puts it, emerge from each corner of this carefully curated space. In the walk-in, a rectangular window shines natural light on the tiled walls and floor of this unique wash area. Strickland opted for miniature pentagonal tiles as opposed to the on-trend hexagonal shape. “I wanted to select something that was not your average,” she says. Another Strickland favorite is the black crystal knobs on both of the sinks donated by The Plumbing Warehouse LCR in West Monroe. “This is so cool to me,” she emphasizes.
The primary bathroom flows into the laundry room, a compact space that stands out with its vibrant mint green cabinets and star-patterned ceramic tiles. “This was kind of a last-minute green,” admits Strickland while once more appreciating the gratuitous amount of natural light flowing into every room. Another practical, but enjoyable space is in the hallway adjacent to the laundry room fashioned with mudroom cabinets from West Ouachita Cabinets, painted a blue-gray two shades darker than that of the kitchen. “This is just good storage to have,” she says, making a point to comment on this area’s use, “And then, it’s good to be right off the laundry room because then you can throw your dirty stuff in there.”
The other wing of the house holds three bedrooms and two baths, which have been furnished as children’s rooms. Each room carries similar tones and accents from the blue-gray cabinets, gold and brass light fixtures, artsy sink tops, and more hidden storage. Those who were able to tour the home were further embedded in the pulse of this monumental project by way of dedications to current and former patients of St. Jude’s on mounted displays. Local artist Morgan Crowell created a unique piece. The framed print displays the giddy profiles of 15 current North Louisiana patients–Sophia, Westlynn, Emma, Ava, Elayne, Asher, Dylan, Ty, Cotton, Karson, Breck, Sam, Vada, Cason, and Justin. “These are just the ones that the parents have been in contact with,” explains Strickland. “But there are more than what you see here.” These prints are given to each patient.
Completing the tour, Strickland walked me to the back patio. Immediately, the concrete floor stood out. Chad Sanders from Decorative Concrete Coatings donated his talents and incorporated a unique, textured finish giving the floor just as much character as the patio furnishing, all from Sleepy Hollow. Though her selections add to the airy feel of the area, one of Faulk’s favorite aspects of the home is the woodwork on the patio ceiling. The amber-hued panels and beams further brighten the space and are the result of the laborious and expert work of established contractor Bradley Allen of BRACO Construction Co. who has been responsible for the building of the St. Jude Dream House in the area for 11 years.
Strickland and I end up sitting on the large quartz island of the kitchen. There she reflects on another successfully completed home. “This project, and I always say this, is in God’s hands. He takes care of every single detail. And I mean, it’s because of what it stands for,” she says, pausing and then adding, “Everything always works out, even though sometimes I question it, and sometimes it’s like a biblical miracle.” With the dust barely settled on the completion of the 2022 Dream House, Northeast Louisiana sponsors are already working on next year’s home. Strickland is always in deep awe of how everyone in the community comes together to make this project a reality. She begins to ponder on a quote she heard in the informative video sent by St. Jude, finally landing on the exact words. “If we have the ability to help, we have the responsibility to help.”
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
Builder: BRACO Construction
Lead Designer / Decorator: Jan Strickland of Strickland Interiors
Home Plans: Ray Bendily Home Design
Furniture for Staging: Sleepy Hollow Furniture
Flooring: Holton Flooring & Interiors
Plumbing and Cabinet Hardware: The Plumbing Warehouse LCR
Plumber: Mark Kennedy Plumbing
Electric: Word Electric
Lighting & Appliances: Coburn’s West Monroe
Countertops: Twin City Granite, BPI, and Prestige Stone
Doors, Door Knobs, Molding, and more: Russell – Moore Lumber
Roof: Elite Roofing
Garage Door: Overhead Doors
Patio Concrete: Decorative Concrete Coatings
Patient Artwork: Morgan Crowell Art
Vent Hood Painting: Amy Simmermaker
Draperies and Pillows: Fabulous Fabric
Glass / Mirrors: AAA Glass and Mirror
Landscaping: Riverside Landscaping
Cabinets: Woodlands Custom Cabinets
West Ouachita Cabinets
Paint: Antonio Rubio / Sherwin Williams
Cleaners: Southern Cleaning
Furniture Movers: McCorquodale Transfer
Air Conditioning: Gilley’s Heating & Cooling
Fireplace: O’Neal Gas
Concrete: Kenneth Lawrence Concrete
Brick: Acme Brick Company Monroe, LA
Lanterns: Hart Designs
Media Sponsors: Fox 14 and KTVE 10 Television, BayouLife Magazine & Z107.5 Big Country Radio
Dream Home Giveaway Sponsors: Assurance Financial, 3B Outdoor Equipment, Legacy of Farmerville, Sleepy Hollow Furniture