Cindy and Paul Bryson wanted their farmhouse-style cottage in the Shenandoah area of Baton Rouge to be a home where family and friends could gather for crawfish boils and birthdays.
It took a full year from pouring the cement, working together with a Lafayette-based developer, then finally moving in last December, but Cindy Bryson, 63, called the process “a labor of love.”
There was one distinct benefit to a slow construction timeline, Cindy Bryson said.
“When you build a home over a year, you get to change your mind,” she said with a smile.
The Bryson’s 2,400-square-foot home is one of about 80 lots in the Audubon Square community off Tiger Bend Road near Antioch Road.
When Cindy Bryson, a retired pharmacist, and Paul Bryson, a 63-year-old chemical engineer, decided to downsize from the Woodlawn Estates home they had lived in for 26 years, they searched for a move-in ready house.
That proved more difficult than expected. “We couldn’t find exactly what we wanted,” Cindy said, explaining that they sought a traditional neighborhood development where each house looked unique “like the old-time neighborhoods.”
Cindy loved her sister’s cottage-style farmhouse in Lafayette and decided to hire her sister’s developer, Dennis Almeida, of Providence Design & Build, to design and build their new home on a corner lot in the Audubon Square subdivision.
“He has that New England flavor,” Cindy said, adding the couple had fallen in love with the New England area during a trip up north several years ago.
“He’s a craftsman,” Paul Bryson said of Almeida. “He’s more of a hands-on builder. He understands craftsmanship, especially the carpentry.”
While the traditional definition of a cottage house describes a simple design, today’s cottage house plans are characterized by pale paint colors, distressed surfaces, humble fabrics and found treasures.
Almeida was the one who suggested having the exterior of the home’s white brick fireplace face the front yard and to the right of the spacious, gray-painted front porch.
The Brysons envision a huge Christmas wreath on the chimney during the holiday season, Paul said.
The front and back porch each have swings because both Cindy and Paul’s grandmothers had porches with swings where children would often gather outside, they said.
The home’s exterior has white board and batten siding interspaced with antique brick that matches the tiered brick masonry surrounding the home. The double-gable roof facades top the farmhouse-style cottage and are notable for two windowed cupolas brought in from Maine, Cindy said.
The home’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom interior is warm and cheery with walls painted buttercream, instead of the sterile white Cindy originally wanted.
This advice came from Cindy’s interior designer, Amy Luciano, who also designed Cindy’s sister’s home in Lafayette.
“She’s got a lot of practical ideas,” Cindy said of Luciano.
Luciano, from upstate New York, added porcelain knobs found in many New England farmhouse-style cottages, to the interior doors, but Cindy put in colorful and inexpensive cabinet pulls found at Anthropologie in the kitchen.
“We tried to cut costs where we could,” Cindy said.
Purchasing all new furniture for the new home was not an option. “We wanted to use all the things we had in our house because we liked what we collected throughout the years,” Cindy said.
The couple also incorporated family paintings and old photos and portraits, including those taken by Cindy’s father, a photographer who owned his own studio for more than 50 years.
They also used the mirror that used to hang in her father’s studio in the home’s guest bathroom, Cindy said.
Paul Bryson’s side of the family is represented with a china cabinet with a marble top and beveled glass that traveled across the Southeast in a covered wagon, plus a fruit painting by his mother that hangs in the kitchen, Cindy said.
Copper pendulum lights hang over the kitchen’s cherrywood island and Cambria quartz countertops. White beveled tiles line the kitchen walls and a farmhouse-style sink faces double windows overlooking the front yard and street.
Small touches like exposed rafters, stained-glass windows on the back porch and wainscoting paired with classic wallpaper patterns make the home truly cozy.
“It’s kind of our own little piece of heaven here,” Cindy said.