ST. FRANCISVILLE — He was town and she was country. Their house is a perfect marriage of the two.

When Doug and Abby Cochran wed in 2012, he had a house in Baton Rouge, where he practiced law, and she had a house in St. Francisville, where she grew up. Because they both loved history and old houses, they decided to buy something together in West Feliciana Parish.

"We started looking around the Historic District. We didn't want a big house. We wanted a house that we could use every bit," said Abby Cochran, principal of West Feliciana High School.

What they found was ideal — a home more than 100 years old but completely renovated by the previous owner after a tree destroyed the front third during Hurricane Gustav. It was move-in ready with a modern kitchen, two-and-a-half baths and three bedrooms, including a master added during the renovation.

"This is the best of both worlds, an old house with new plumbing and new electrical," said Abby Cochran. 

The Cochran home is one of four that will be open to the public Dec. 2 on the West Feliciana Library Christmas Tour of Homes sponsored by the West Feliciana Friends of the Library.

"Everything made from the tour goes straight back into the library," said Christian Tregle, Friends president. 

When the couple decided to marry, merging their two households was not as easy as they thought it would be.

"I had a bunch of original art, and Abby had a bunch of original art," Doug Cochran said.

Following the advice of St. Francisville native, family friend and decorator Patrick Tandy, the couple laid out every piece of art.

"We watched as Patrick said 'yes, no or hell no' to each item in our collections," Doug Cochran said.

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Even though the home was completely updated, it still didn't have enough closet space. Working with architect Coco Treppendahl, the Cochrans repurposed their back porch to create a mud room, a large closet for Abby and a sitting room off the master bedroom. 

"We were worried about getting rid of the back porch so we ran the idea by Patrick," Abby Cochran said. "He said, 'If you want to sit on a porch, sit on the front porch.'"

The home has an open plan living room-dining room combination with the original pine floors used throughout.

"This house has no wasted space — no foyer, no separate dining room," Abby Cochran said.

And the color palette is kept to a minimum.

"Three paint colors are used throughout the house, three variations on cream," Doug Cochran said.

On the living room mantel is a collection of old whiskey jugs including one from Bayou Sara, a nearby town that no longer exists.

"Abby's dad has always collected old jugs," Doug Cochran said. "I liked the history behind all of them. I like the stories behind them."

A wide hall with a butler's pantry and a powder room leads to the kitchen, where cabinets are made from the home's original cypress discovered behind the walls when the home was redone after Gustav.

"The house was originally built in the 1890s or early 1900s of wood salvaged from the destroyed buildings at Bayou Sara," Doug Cochran said.

The home had several additions over the past century, including what the Cochrans call the "green room," a casual sitting room, where Doug Cochran's two daughters, Kate, 15, and Caroline, a freshman at LSU, do their homework and watch television.

"The home has a lot of nooks and crannies, but we use it all," Abby Cochran said. 

Throughout the home are antique pieces collected by the couple, including several treasures from The Corbel, a shop that incorporates reclaimed doors and old wood to create traditional-style furniture.

Also on display is Abby Cochran's collection of crosses that began with a gift from her sister, Amy Louviere, chairwoman of the library tour.

"Every piece has a story," Abby Cochran said.


Christmas Tour of Homes

A tour of four private homes decorated for Christmas, benefiting the West Feliciana Library

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2

WHERE: In and around St. Francisville

TICKETS/INFO: $25 in advance at brownpapertickets.com, or in St. Francisville at The Conundrum Bookstore, 11917 Ferdinand St., the West Feliciana Library, 5114 Burnett Road. $30 on tour day at the homes. (225) 635-3364.