LAFAYETTE — When novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote “You can’t go home again,” he hadn’t met Marcus and Hannah Mason.
“Part of living in this house is you have to host everyone for Christmas,” says Hannah Mason, who has shared the home throughout the years with her parents, Randy and Helen Smith, brothers Andrew and Randall and sister Marietta.
Now she and husband Marcus share it with their three children — Max, 8; Charlie, 5; Margaret, 3 — and Lucy, the dog.
Built by the Smiths in 1995, the home remains the family cornerstone. Generations have returned and continue to do so.
“We have to keep the master bedroom for my parents,” Hannah Mason says with a laugh.
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Inspired by a Michael L. Murphy-designed house, Ray Montgomery built the home for the Smiths, where daughter Hannah lived for her last two years of high school. She is still good friends with Murphy’s son.
“I have so many good memories of this house being built,” she says, crediting the interior to William Ray Interiors of Baton Rouge. “Bill Ray did everything.”
You can read the family’s history in the rooms as well as the personalities of the past.
Against a backdrop of champagne-colored walls, Persian carpets underfoot are from the '70s, an elegant souvenir of her parents’ stay in Iran before the Ayatollah. A dessert cart from Natchez, Mississippi, that originally sat in the Eola Hotel and once belonged to Marcus Mason's grandfather, now stores cake plates and serving pieces when not in use.
In the dining room, where the walls have been changed from ruby red to jovial peach, English Christmas crackers keep company with an Iranian teapot and a parental portrait, evidence of a family well-traveled. Many of Hannah Mason's pieces have sentimental value, like her grandmother’s Christmas village.
The Masons have tweaked things to suit their modern lifestyle while maintaining the traditional integrity of the home. When Hannah Mason's sister Marietta and her husband Josh took a turn living here, they repainted the bedrooms upstairs.
“Paint is an easy way to update," Hannah Mason says, "but you have to get mom’s permission."
The house boasts three bedrooms upstairs and two down. Old Lone Ranger comic books from Hudson Valley, New York, decorate the walls of room for the boys, who are keen on Scouting. The pull up bar across the doorway is from her brothers’ younger days.
Across the hall, the crisp navy and white master bedroom contains an antique day bed where the occasional child sometimes comes to sleep. Great-great-grandmother’s armoire stands against the wall, the crackling in the finish the result of many a Mississippi summer spent in a Natchez attic.
Downstairs is Hannah Mason's favorite place, a combination family and game room she’s personalized just for family-in-residence. A blue ceiling, Texada green woodwork — her grandmother’s custom paint color — and a group of Kai Drobish landmark plaques provide the entry.
“I wanted to create an area where we could retreat even though we were sharing the house,” she says.
An antique armoire from Revival Antiques in Scott boasts gun barrel hinges and houses a television. Behind a navy velvet sofa hangs a portrait of Hannah Mason by Rocky Perkins and a pool table that has been through two generations of boys.
“Drinks have been spilled,” she says, laughing. “I love the forethought of my parents. They put burlap on the walls. It was a dart board when my brothers were young. The house is so well planned. That’s one reason why everyone loves coming back.”
Her favorite focal point is the art collection: A signed Rodrigue; her own children’s art; a rig painting of the North Sea, where she lived as a child in Scotland; family photos on the piano; a black cat.
“I flew back from New York with that on the plane,” she says of the cat. “I wasn’t sure they’d let me.”
The magnolia painting was won at auction.
A door leads from the adjoining kitchen to the backyard terrace and pergola where the family indulges a love for entertaining and the outdoors. Backyard Adventures, of Baton Rouge, built the play structure on site, and according to Hannah Mason, it’s been the location of more than one childhood bump and scrape, much like the home itself.
“The house has been through generations, dents, bruises and some child graffiti,” she says. “But it has so many conveniences, I don’t mind if mom approves the paint color.”
Last year, Santa brought the cat condo for brothers King and Cozy, two rehabilitated rescues who now reside in the Masons' backyard.
“You welcome everyone home.”