Sophisticated Comfort in Denham Springs: formal, yet unpretentious design

When designer Beth Claybourn began work on a new house for a venerable Denham Springs family, she already knew a little bit about her clients. In fact, this was the fourth house she designed for the couple. Several decades ago, Claybourn had even decorated a girly teenager’s bedroom for the now forty-something lady of the house.

“When they bought the property, it was 90 acres of overgrown wilderness near downtown Denham Springs,” says Claybourn. She suggested architect Al Jones, landscaper Eduardo Jenkins, and builder Larry Norman as the team for the project.

In keeping with traditional architecture of the region, Al Jones, a well-known disciple of A. Hayes Town, designed the house in an Acadian plantation style. “It fits the setting and looks like it has been there for 100 years,” says Claybourn.

Although construction began on the house about 12 years ago, some of its elements show the character and patina of the 19th century. Contractor Larry Norman, owner of Highland Cabinet Company, sought out old hardwood for the floorboards and beams. The unmistakably antique look of the interior wood, along with arches of aged bricks from a demolished warehouse in New Orleans, give the home an ancient air.

Because the homeowners wanted lots of windows, most of the back wall of the first floor consists of large picture windows and French doors. “From the entrance, you see all the way through to the back gardens,” says Claybourn. “My favorite thing about the house is the way it incorporates the outside. Eduardo is a genius that way.”

Landscape architect Eduardo Jenkins created a harmonious tropical paradise on the grounds with touches of formal European style. It seems no matter where you are in the house, you have a lovely view of the surrounding gardens, complete with flowers in bloom.

When it comes to the design of the rooms, Claybourn says she worked with the family the way she does with all of her clients. Rather than imposing her personal style, she functioned as the tool for the owners to achieve their style. “My style is very formal,” says Claybourn, “and, although it contains sophisticated antiques and a museum-quality art collection, this home reflects the warm, unpretentious personality of the homeowners.

The result is a residence of country charm just minutes from the city that is 100 percent Louisiana.

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