At the end of the day, Mark Hudspeth likes it low-key with no scoreboard.
Home is where we find peace and quiet, and Ragin’ Cajuns head football coach Hudspeth finds his in Audubon Plantation with wife Tyla and three young boys.
Purchased on the Parade of Homes five years ago, it’s his calm after the storm. The combination of neutrals and family-friendly spaces constitutes a retreat but not a surrender.
“When I come home late at night, Tyla has a candle burning in the window, and the kids are fed and in bed. It’s stress-free,” he said.
The house presents with an air of simplicity and elegance. From the door, a formal foyer and dining room quickly give way to an open kitchen with dark wood cabinets and granite counters leading to a keeping room.
The warm tones of the finishes make it an inviting place to live and settle into, and there’s an air of ease to the space that works well for the homeowners.
Chrissy Greene, of Elle Décor & Design, helped the Hudspeths with the decorating, which has progressed from formal to child-friendly.
“I liked the formal hotel lobby feel, but what was a good idea with one child …” said Tyla Hudspeth, unruffled with a team of boys underfoot. “We started with a totally different feel, and as more kids came into the picture, we transitioned.”
The adjacent living room alone has transitioned through six couches. On the kitchen island is a vignette of pottery made by Major, 7, and when asked if he’ll play sports when he gets older, he says, “Yes, ma’am. Football and basketball.” Rocky, at 7 months, is mum, while Captain, 2, is anxious to demonstrate his dexterity with a child-size upholstered chair.
Framed on the wall is a code that begins, “In this family … we do second chances, we do grace, we do real, we do I’m sorrys …” buffered by humor. “We do loud really well.”
Time off is hard for Tyla Hudspeth.
“I really stay here,” she said. “When one meal finishes, another’s starting. This is probably my office. If I’m not in the kitchen, Mark knows to look for me in my closet,” she said with a laugh.
The closet was a game changer.
“It’s what sold me on the idea of living in this home,” she said.
The walk-in wardrobe houses workout attire, an array of shoes — many of them red. Her necklaces marking trips to bowl games in New Orleans hang on their own peg.
“The wives get pendants,” she explained. Any valued collection deserves its own space.
In the master suite, taupe and gray play a huge role in creating a tranquil atmosphere. Twin mirrored bombé chests reflect a neutral bedscape. A chinning bar rests over Mark Hudspeth’s closet.
The combination of recessed lighting and statement chandeliers, a minimalist approach and abstract art are rejuvenating in their own right. Tyla Hudspeth follows the decluttering discipline set forth in "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo and says she can’t sit down with her husband at the end of the day unless everything is in order.
“After I read that book, it changed me. This place can look like a tornado came through in a matter of seconds,” she said. “I’m thinking of my boys’ future wives.”
Upstairs, an attic-turned-eagle’s nest welcomes the Hudspeths’ steady stream of guests. Part of a renovation two years ago, a small suite was added, complete with closet and a bookcase that swings away from the wall, revealing a secret room. Mark Hudspeth sometimes avails himself of the hideaway, where he can sleep undisturbed day or night.
“We tried to set the house up to accommodate weekend guests for home football games,” he said. “We bring the staff and players over a few times a year and love having live music. There’s always something happening, a basketball game every day.”
All areas combine to tell a story, but an array of objects have individual histories, as well — bowl footballs, commemorative helmets and jerseys, some from schools where Mark Hudspeth has been coach; Tyla Hudspeth’s personal marathon race photos, including the 2012 Boston Marathon; artwork by Gwen Foreman and Alexis Robinson; and an original Rodrigue Cajun Blue Dog.
Surrounded by families with boys, Tyla Hudspeth says they built an adjoining gate between one neighbor’s lot and theirs. It’s the mom life.
“For every one that comes over, that’s one less of my own I don’t have to entertain,” she said. “They cancel each other out.”
When reminded that there’s a special place in heaven for a mother of three boys, she smiles.
“This neighborhood is that for me.”