Buzzy and Susie Heroman's home is proof that great things can happen on a budget.

They started small when they built in 1976, but over time, have turned their first home into their forever home.

"We couldn't afford an architect," Susie Heroman said. "We would take our plans to Dixon Smith, who lived next door to me when I was growing up."

Smith, a well-known interior designer, offered advice and drew some of the details. 

The Heromans had heard that Fidelity National Bank had mortgage money available for new construction at 7¾ percent — a low rate for 1976.

The couple purchased their lot in Pine Park subdivision and asked Jim Smith, Dixon Smith's husband and one of the developers of Pine Park, to build their new home within their tight budget.

"Jim Smith would say, 'You can't afford a sidewalk in front,' or 'You can't afford to build a garage,'" Susie Heroman recalled with a laugh. "A budget was always in effect."

The original 2,300-square-foot house had three bedrooms. But the Heromans and their builder were looking to the future.

"We knew we wanted to add a fourth bedroom if God blessed us with three children," Buzzy Heroman said. "Jim put an electric junction box in the attic at the spot where the fourth bedroom would be. He framed a door and placed a window where the door to a future addition would be." 

In 1980, the Heromans added that fourth bedroom and made it the master suite.

"We didn't have to change the roof line," Buzzy Heroman said. "When the addition was complete, they broke through the wall and opened the door to the new part."

A year later, the Heromans installed a pool for their growing family of three young boys.  

Then in 1986, the couple added a den, expanded their small breakfast room and opened the whole area to the kitchen. They converted a covered walkway to a storage room and a new laundry room.

"We chipped out the bricks on the old exterior wall and reused them in the new wall so they would match the bricks on the rest of the house," Susie Heroman said.

In 1992 came the pool house at the back of their property.

"We knew it could easily be converted to a guest house or a place for parents if we needed it," Buzzy Heroman said. 

A few years later, it was time for a kitchen update. Cypress cabinets and blue and white tile were installed, and beams were added to give the room more height. "That was Dixon's idea," Susie Heroman said.

Their latest improvement came last year, when the patio area was remade with Pennsylvania blue stone and new flower beds.

Their home is now the gathering place for their three sons, their spouses and nine grandchildren. It's a traditional house decorated with pieces collected over years.

"We haunted all those places in New Orleans for old shutters and doors," Susie Heroman said. "It was Dixon's idea to use old items as part of the new construction."

They carefully considered every stick of furniture they purchased, often eyeballing a piece for months until they made their decision.

"We looked at our sideboard in the dining room for years," Susie Heroman said. 

One thing they do have is plenty of flowers, inside and out. Buzzy is the owner of Billy Heroman's and the fourth generation of his family in the floral business. His sons and nephew who work with him are the fifth generation of a family business that traces its roots to Buzzy Heroman's great-grandfather, who had a shop across from St. Joseph Cathedral more than 150 years ago.