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The St. Jude Dream Home

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Home
Jun 30th, 2023

photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

This year’s St. Jude Dream Home, built by BRACO Construction, is a beautiful testament to the Northeast Louisiana community’s generosity and love for those in need.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is part of a larger-than-life mission to save children’s lives. Each ticket sold helps fund the families of children receiving treatment from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, guaranteeing they never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing, or food. This year’s home, built by BRACO Construction, sold all available tickets and raised $850,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “All of the local sponsors involved in this project really come together. I mean, they dropped their paid jobs to come to do this,” informs Jan Strickland, interior decorator, and home designer who never fails to be in awe of the degree to which everyone in the community rallies together to support the building of such a magnificent home. As the designer, she is one of the few people who sees the project through, from breaking ground to the interior finishing touches. For her, it is personal. “My best friend from childhood, Tiffany, passed away from cancer,” she says, also mentioning two other friends—Amber Nicole and Claude—whose pictures are hanging in the children’s rooms. “I know we always mention them, but they are always at the forefront of my mind.” The magnitude of this project is undoubtedly a testament to the Northeast Louisiana community’s generosity and love for those in need. 

The many hands involved in this project are more than aware of its importance and far-reaching impact. Between national sponsors like Birzo, Shaw, Trane, Bosch, and Kichler to local sponsors like Sleepy Hollow Furniture and Mattress, Twin City Granite, and Holton Flooring, the finished product is always professionally done and top-of-the-line. Though some features of the home are donated by national sponsors, they often are provided and installed by local sponsors. This includes plumbing fixtures, lighting, and tiles. Brian Allen, owner of BRACO Construction has been building the St. Jude Dream Home for thirteen years. The family-owned business is run by Brian, Christine, and Bradley Allen. The project has been raising money for St. Jude for 21 years, and BRACO has been an essential piece of it for over a decade. Since they joined in 2011, BRACO Construction has built over a dozen homes, helped raise over $8 million for the kids of St. Jude, and has won multiple awards including Zero Hero, Builder of the Year, Most Improved Cost, and the Inaugural Kichler Award in 2022. “Working with St. Jude these past years has been a part of our life that we will never forget,” says Brian. 

Another seasoned sponsor is Sleepy Hollow Furniture, whose contribution turns this house into a home. “I cannot speak highly enough of Sleepy Hollow because every year they’re so willing to take on my vision,” enthuses Strickland, who meets with Faulk right at the beginning of the process to convey her vision. “I show her different vision boards and then she goes to market and will shop specifically for those pieces in order for me to select through them,” says Strickland. Though the items go back to Sleepy Hollow after the open house events, they are available for purchase to the public. This year, Strickland’s interior decor was inspired by the quaint surroundings of the house. “I always look at the environment that the house has in the surrounding neighborhood,” says Strickland about her sixth St. Jude Dream Home. “That’s always the starting point of the style of the home,” she adds. Nestled in the tranquil, curving streets of Frenchman’s Bend, the English-style cottage is located in one of the more private subdivisions of the horseshoe-shaped neighborhood. “It’s got this vibe on the street that’s just different,” she says. The feeling of coziness and the neutral color exteriors of the surrounding homes inspired Strickland to approach her design vision with “old world” European accents. The final product is any homeowner’s dream, but the heart of the cause is deeply embedded in the foundation of this very special house. 

At the entrance of the house, brass-colored French doors lead to a spacious entrance hall decorated with a charcoal patterned rug and a nautical console table lit by the warm light of a hoop LED chandelier. A splash of color rises from the archway wall to the ceiling, providing the sensation of walking through a tunnel. The sage hue sets a calming and grounding tone as you pass into the open kitchen, living room, and dining area. In the kitchen, creamy white walls and high cabinets compliment a pop of jade color from the lower kitchen cabinets (hugging the industrial-chic, Bosch stainless steel stove featuring continuous cast iron grates), as well as those belonging to the large kitchen island with an impressive quartz countertop farmhouse sink. Pearlescent tile backsplash compliments a brass, pot filler faucet framed by the arched kitchen alcove design. A hidden, walk-in pantry adds to the texture of the space by way of black and white retro Shaw tiles in a flower pattern, which is not only charming but incredibly practical since the storage space is every home cook’s dream. A few steps away, natural light pours into the dining room from large paneled windows framed by velvety curtains from Fabulous Fabric. A basket-shaped chandelier fashioned with distressed antique white beads centers the space above a dark wooden, oval dining table lined with six lattice back dining chairs. The vaulted ceiling of the living room pulls your gaze toward a brick, white-washed fireplace framed by sage-colored walls and display cabinets while an enchanting topiary-shaped chandelier dangles over a tray-style coffee table, bohemian decorative rug, leather sofa, and luxurious upholstered chair. 

“A designer tip of mine is I don’t want to have too many paint colors for one home,” says Strickland. Though she usually keeps it to three colors max, she admits she added a few more colors for this project, though the hues are subtle and intentionally placed. The hallway toward the primary bedrooms keeps the creamy, rice grain tone of the kitchen, with a peek of contrast from the half bath which features a black toilet, hexagon black and white tiles, and Kohler sartorial, paisley sink. Strickland keeps the primary bedroom simple with an enchanting wagon wheel chandelier taking center stage. The primary bathroom is another story. Marked by large marble tiles and the ethereal glow of the Kichler Arabella LED pendant light, the clear optical crystal shades create a puddle of shimmering light on the ceiling. The magic of the space is extensive and is further exemplified by the glass pane acting as a window for the zero-entry shower designed with marble tile walls. Offsetting the neutral tones of this section of the home is the laundry room, a space that Strickland always enjoys integrating playful and unconventional colors from the rest of the home. Standing out from the black and white patterned tiles, golden mustard cabinets are brightly lit by the natural light pouring from a medium-sized window, making laundry time a much more vibrant experience. 

The secondary bedrooms can be found in the adjacent wing of the home tucked at the end of a short hallway. For staging purposes, each room is decorated as a boy and girl’s room. The layout is simple and cozy—single window, brass light fixture, and spacious closet. It is this space that has been dedicated to the pulse of the project. In each room, the pictures of former St. Jude patients are mounted on the walls. Though only a handful can be seen, Strickland emphasizes that in Northeast Louisiana there are numerous patients. Even a unique print created by local artist Morgan Crowell displaying the profiles of 21 North Louisiana patients—Sam, Ty, Asher, Emma, Break, Elayne, Harlie, Ava, Rory, Westlynn, Cotton, Sophia Lynn, Vada, Dylan, Garret, Abby, Chance, Alex, Karson, Justin, and Noah.

The back patio polishes off the home. “I love how it’s right here on the golf course. You can literally walk onto the golf course,” beams Strickland. The sweeping view is part trimmed lawn and clusters of small hardwood trees; though, the view is in hard competition with the details of the patio. The decorative concrete flooring Strickland considers, “Concrete art, basically,” shouting out Chad Sanders from Decorative Concrete Coatings. Additionally, the woodwork on the patio ceiling, compliments of Russell Moore lumber, beautifully juxtaposes the sand-colored brickwork all donated by Acme Brick Tile & Stone. With such chic details, you can opt to keep outdoor furniture simple, such as a dark brown wicker sofa with beige eggshell fabric cushions and a matching lounge ottoman. 

Time and again, the St. Jude Dream Home donors provide this project and the community with an industry-standard product. “You’re getting high-end. Everybody puts forth their best for this and that’s what’s incredible,” emphasizes Strickland who always delights in the heart of the donors who don’t do it for recognition. As Strickland says, “They do it because they want to do it.” At length, this picture-perfect undertaking transcends the aesthetic because embedded in every aspect of this house is the kind of love and care we should all strive to give to ourselves and each other, which is the St. Jude way. 

2023 St. Jude Dream Home Local Sponsors

Builder: BRACO Construction 
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
Draperies and Pillows: Fabulous Fabric 
Glass / Mirrors: AAA Glass and Mirror
Landscaping: Riverside Landscaping 
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
Brick: Acme Brick Company Monroe, LA
National Sponsors: Brizo, Shaw, Trane, Bosch, Kichler
Local Sponsors: Fox 14 and KTVE 10 Television, BayouLife Magazine & Z107.5 Big Country Radio, 3B Outdoor Equipment, Dream Day Foundation, Sleepy Hollow Furniture