Not many couples stick with a house for the long haul, but when Craig and Staci Duhé built their home in 1990, they knew it would be their forever home.
Sure, they've made changes along the way to their Oakbrook neighborhood abode, but they still love their home and the quiet neighborhood just a street away from her parents, Kay and Norman Deumite.
"If you build a house for a lifetime, you will spend a lifetime working on it," said Staci Duhé, who, with her husband owns and operates Nursing Care Connections, a business they started when Staci Duhé's brother was injured in an accident and needed special care at home.
The brick and stucco, one-story home was built with four bedrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen.
Having a dad who is a contractor didn't hurt.
"He helped us build a nicer home than we would have had," Staci Duhé said.
But she's the first to admit they didn't get everything right initially, using Mexican tile for the floors and surfaces in the entire home.
"It was a pretty mistake that we realized very soon," she said, "but we waited until it made sense and replaced it with heart of pine floors in all of the (public) rooms except the kitchen, where we used slate."
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One of the biggest changes the couple made to their home was the addition of a family room, veranda and courtyard about 16 years ago.
The couple engaged architect Cindy Stewart, who designed the outdoor space that fills the area from the family room to the living room.
Centered with a large brick fireplace with a television above the mantel, the veranda is a perfect gathering spot with lots of comfortable seating. Tucked in a corner is a small outdoor kitchen, for Craig Duhé, an expert griller.
There's also a table, found by Staci Duhé's brothers, Scott Deumite and Sloan Deumite, large enough to seat the entire family.
"Almost every party or holiday we celebrate together out here," Staci Duhé said. "The outside is our favorite place."
Most recently, the couple renovated their kitchen with the help of interior designer Anne McCanless.
They kept the original tall vaulted ceiling, adding a showstopper of a light fixture, a huge contemporary iron and glass piece by William Evans, of Abat-Jour Interiors.
Rather than replace the original cypress cabinets, they painted them white.
"I like the texture of the painted cabinets," Duhé said.
The home is filled with art including many pieces by Eddie Morman, a self-taught colorblind artist who paints "from the spirit" in primary colors. Most of his paintings have Louisiana themes.
"There is so much beauty in Louisiana that I am inspired to work with artists and local artisans," Duhé said. "Ninety percent of everything in this house is local."
One of Morman's pieces hangs over the fireplace in the living room, a welcoming space just steps from the front door, replaced recently with an iron and glass door to allow in more light.
The fireplace is flanked by built-in shelving, where Staci Duhé displays her collection of blue and white porcelain, "a nod to my mom," who gave her the first piece when Duhé was 16.
When the Duhé children were toddlers, their grandmother worried these treasured pieces would get broken, so Duhé let Steven, William and Sydney each select their favorite pieces and tag them on the bottoms with their names. The children became responsible for them.
A coffee table in the center of the seating area is filled with a collection of mercury glass.
"I am a girl of the '80s," Duhé said. "I like things that sparkle and shine. I have to have something that reflects light in every room."
In the less-formal family room, there's also a fireplace, built-in bookcases, a beverage bar and French doors that open to the veranda. The family room is connected to the rest of the house through a breezeway with a wall of windows looking out on the veranda and a wall of family photos.
In a place of honor is a picture of the Knock Knock Children's Museum, which the Duhé children call their mother's "fourth child," because of the years she spent as one of the hard-working founders of it.
"They all say I love that fourth child the best," Duhé said with a laugh.
The Duhés' backyard is open to a path around the perimeter of the neighborhood and through Craig Duhé's stand of citrus trees.
"When the trees are producing, Craig tells the neighbors to stop as they walk on the path and pick some fruit for breakfast," Duhé said.