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The St. Jude Dream Home

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Home
Jun 3rd, 2024

article by Vanelis Rivera
photography by Kelly Moore Clark

This year’s St. Jude Dream Home, built by BRACO Construction, is one of the first homes in DeSiard Trace, a new subdivision in Sterlington, Louisiana

DeSiard Trace is a new subdivision in Sterlington, Louisiana, offering something “a little different than the average subdivision.” While it boasts larger property sizes, high-quality infrastructure, practical location, and AT&T fiber optic, its very first construction is part of the nationwide St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. “It’s really going to be an amazing set,” exclaims Jan Strickland, interior decorator, and home designer of the monumental project. “Look at that pasture. It’s a big pasture view. And it’s so convenient,” she adds. As always, from lot to finished product, each aspect of the St. Jude Dream Home is one hundred percent donated by national and regional donors. “It is crazy to think that this is my seventh one as lead designer,” beams Strickland, who never fails to emphasize the extent of passion poured over each house. “It’s a labor of love,” she says, adding, “No matter the challenges, no matter what happens, it always works. It always comes together. And I truly believe, you know, God has his hand on this project.”

About a year ago, Strickland began ruminating about the direction she wanted the house to go in. She always begins by looking at national donor websites like Shaw Flooring, Kichler Lighting, Bosch, and Brizo Luxury Faucets. “That’s where the creativity sparks from,” she says. As she weaves between selections, she allows herself to naturally gravitate toward a tile pattern, plumbing fixture, or light fixture. “This year, I was just really drawn to the polished chrome finish I saw in a lot of the fixtures I was loving on the website,” she says. Arriving at a thematic focus allows her to dive into other selections to match, such as the plumbing fixtures. Reminiscing about the process is always comical for Strickland, whose creative mind can best be described as having many navigation tabs open. “I focus on all the areas because they all have to, you know, be one,” she says when asked which room she begins designing. Even then, she spends the most time conceptualizing the kitchen and the primary bathroom because “those are always the two biggest showcases.”

“I say this every year, but, the environment of where the home is located reflects on the style that I select for the home, overall,” says Strickland, mentioning the “brand new” subdivision and the home’s proximity to the bayou as her main points of inspiration. She adds, “I wanted it to represent Louisiana.” The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is a nod to Acadian-style houses, complete with a gabled roof, white brick exterior, window shutters, and a columned porch. At the home’s entryway, visitors are greeted by a pre-fabricated, glass-paneled door donated by Russell-Moore Lumber Inc. and a ceiling-mounted lantern. Inside three archways, leading to the open kitchen, living room, and dining area, are illuminated by Kichler’s Lente Pendant, an industrial-style fixture characterized by cable railings, Auburn wood accents, and a Brushed Nickel finish. 

The dining room is immediately tucked to the left side of the entrance and is Strickland’s favorite room this year. “It’s something about the vibe in this room that I just love,” she says, gushing over the navy ceiling which contrasts beautifully with a white, multi-pendant light fixture inspired by cocktail shakers. The beige draperies from Fabulous Fabric complement a round, wooden table and four off-white, upholstered chairs from Sleepy Hollow Furniture. “The style in here is not one particular style,” she says making note of the large, textured abstract painting. Adding further to the room’s depth of character are two glazed, ceramic lamps on each corner of a console table. “It’s a small room, but it’s awesome,” she emphasizes.

Unlike past years, Strickland stuck to only two paint colors, Sherwin-Williams’ Snow Bound, and Naval. “It’s almost got a nautical vibe to it,” she says about the color combination, noting how the navy color can get darker in some parts of the house. It’s easy to spot the sleek pop of color in the kitchen area as seen in the custom kitchen hood, and the base of the kitchen island, both glowing with the hue of two showstopping light pendants. The three-dimensional light fixtures exude a contemporary, upscale aesthetic with their polished nickel and wood finishes. The donated Bosch appliances further add to the luxury of the space, which includes a stainless steel, French door refrigerator, built-in microwave, and stainless steel gas range oven. Despite the high-end features, the hidden, walk-in pantry has always been a Strickland favorite. The space is hallmarked by patterned tiles from Shaw Floors, a picture window, and cabinets with a concrete countertop donated by Decorative Concrete Coatings. 

he living room echoes similar accents, including a large, contemporary chandelier, vaulted ceiling, and striking fireplace. The Naval color is carried to the back of the bookshelf, beautifully juxtaposing the decorative accents carefully placed on each shelf. One set of ceramic bowls is intimately connected with the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. The daughter of veteran donor Brian Allen, owner of BRACO Construction, wanted to donate her talents to the mix. Taylor Allen is an art major at the University of Louisiana at Monroe who donated three stunning ceramic creations.  “The details of them are beautiful,” says Strickland. Undoubtedly, she was inspired by her father’s fourteen-year-old history with the project. The family-owned business is run by Brian, Christine, and Bradley Allen and has built over a dozen homes, helping raise over $8 million for the kids of St. Jude.

“Everything is a straight line,” informs Strickland, who chose bedroom and bathroom light and plumbing fixtures with a chic, industrial feel. The primary bedroom hosts a striking chandelier that resembles the shape of gathered wheat. When illuminated, a soft pattern of light covers the ceiling, extending the motif of lines. “Normally, I like to mix and match,” she asserts, but when she found matching pendants, she knew exactly where they belonged. Three mounted pendants line the double sink bathroom cabinet, while one hangs adjacent to the walk-in shower, an elegant entryway featuring an arched window cutout. Cloudy patterned tiles meet the eye in the shower and bath area, featuring a rain showerhead and a freestanding bathtub. The laundry room connects with the bathroom through a walk-in closet and is one of Strickland’s favorite rooms to design. “I go crazy in the laundry room every year,” she laughs, mentioning how playful she gets with the tile pattern. This year, she opted for a porcelain tile with a deco blend of sandy hues. “I love it against the navy cabinets,” she says. 

The secondary bedrooms are tucked in the right wing of the home, each with an accessible bathroom. For staging purposes, each room is decorated to honor North Louisiana children who lost their lives too soon as a result of cancer. The boy’s bedroom is in memory of Claude Williams and Corbin Gulde and the girl’s bedroom is in memory of Harley Sykes, Amber Tamburo, Tiffany Greer, Zoe Simpson, and KK Joyce. Strickland grew up with three of the children mentioned, and never fails to shift the focus back to them. “I know we always mention them, but they are always at the forefront of my mind,” she says. 

Each room contains a full-size bed, nightstand and lamp, accent rug, and stylish wall decor.

The back patio always makes a statement thanks to Chad Sanders from Decorative Concrete Coatings whose “concrete art,” as Strickland refers to it, adds a refined texture to a cozy outdoor space. The wood-paneled ceiling, compliments of Russell-Moore Lumber Inc., stands out from the white brickwork donated by Acme Brick Tile & Stone. Strickland chose black outdoor furniture which ties nicely with the stylish black blade, ceiling fan with Wi-Fi apps, and voice control technology. It’s the perfect spot to decompress and take in the panoramic view.

“You know, it’s fun to pick out the latest and greatest in home design and make it look good, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to sell tickets to raise almost a million dollars,” affirms Strickland concerning the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. During the open house, a painting by local artist Emily Morris was on display to remind visitors of the heart of the project. Strickland asked her to paint something that represents St. Jude and the children of North Louisiana who are patients. Morris delivered a heartfelt birthday scene with three children gathered around a birthday cake topped with thirty-five candles, each representing a child patient from our area. Two arched windows are intentionally left empty, the voids pointing to those children who have lost their life due to cancer. “I love the vibrant colors that she selected, and what the whole represents,” mentions Strickland. 

Without fail, the St. Jude Dream Home donors and volunteers carve time away from work and family to create a physical embodiment of community and charity. “There’s so much that happens behind the scenes that the public doesn’t have an inkling about,” says Strickland, always full of gratitude for the helping hands that consistently create an industry-standard home for the children of St. Jude. “It just goes to show the love they have towards St. Jude. They just make it happen. And it amazes me every year because building a home is not an easy thing to do,” she adds. Ultimately, when the intensity of deadlines subsides, what is left is the love and care community partnership provides.

Builder: BRACO Construction 
Designer / Decorator: Jan Strickland of Strickland Interiors
Home Plans: Ray Bendily Home Design 
Furniture for Staging: Sleepy Hollow Furniture 
Flooring: Dupuy Flooring
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, Prestige Stone, and Louisiana Stone LLC
Doors, Door Knobs, Molding, and more: Russell – Moore Lumber 
Roof: Elite Roofing
Garage Door: Overhead Doors 
Patio Concrete and Counters: Decorative Concrete Coatings
Patient Artwork: Emily Morris
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
Furniture Movers: McCorquodale Transfer 
Air Conditioning: Gilley’s Heating & Cooling
Fireplace: O’Neal Gas
Concrete: Kenneth Lawrence Concrete, Pokie’s Ready Mix, and River City Ready Mix
Brick: Acme Brick Company Monroe, LA
Vinyl Siding: Danny Fontenot
National Sponsors: Brizo, Shaw, Trane, Bosch, Kichler
Special Thanks: KTVE/KARD, Z107.5, Dream Day Foundation, 3B Outdoor Equipment, BayouLife Magazine, Automated Alarm, Joe Banks Drywall and Acoustics, Inc., Louisiana Stone, DeSiard Trace