In July 2003, Donis Harmon's life changed forever. That's when her youngest son, Taylor Weimer, was killed in a car accident.
Suddenly the Wrenwood subdivision house she and Taylor, a Catholic High grad attending LSU, moved to from Houma in 1996 seemed empty.
"I was devastated for about two years after the accident," Harmon said. "The house had so many memories that it made me so sad, so I decided to sell the house and find something to rent."
The day after the house went on the market, Hurricane Katrina hit. Harmon sold it and most of the furniture to a couple from New Orleans and moved to an apartment with the things she wanted to keep.
When she heard developer Mike Wampold was building the Crescent at University Lake, an upscale condo development, she was ecstatic.
"I was one of the first people to sign a purchase agreement for one of the condos," said Harmon, who grew up in Baton Rouge.
Even though it was another 2½ years before her condo was ready, Harmon put on a hard hat and work boots and watched the work in progress as she frequently walked around the site with Brian Dantin, who headed the project.
The wait gave her time to plan her new home with the assistance of Vicky Hebert, the decorator who helped her with her Wrenwood house.
"We are going to make this house a reflection of you,'" Hebert told Harmon. "You are books and artwork."
Harmon and Hebert, who at the time worked at Dixon Smith Interiors, had fun selecting items and artwork together for the two-bedroom condo, where Harmon moved in 2008.
"When the condo was completely decorated, I felt a little sad because I had so much fun working with Vicky and everyone at Dixon Smith Interiors," she said.
At the center of the home is the open plan living room-kitchen-dining area with the master bedroom to the right and a second bedroom, which Harmon uses as her office, to the left. There is a large master bath and closet as well as a guest bath between the second bedroom and the main room.
Harmon added a floor-to-ceiling bookcase to the left of the living room fireplace for her collection of new and old books, including several of the original Nancy Drew mysteries. And fulfilling her second love, she's filled her condo with works by local artists including Lisa Distefano, Robert Rector, Lauren Barksdale, Meredith Pardue, George Marks, Amanda Talley and Hebert, Harmon's designer.
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The kitchen section is delineated by a peninsula with granite counters and bar stools for casual dining. Dark-stained cabinets provide plenty of storage and complement the stainless steel appliances.
In the back corner of the main room is the dining area with a round table with chairs upholstered in animal stripes in honor of the LSU Tigers and a crystal chandelier handmade by Julie Neill, of New Orleans.
"Vicky said we needed a little bling," Harmon said with a laugh.
Off the living room and master bedroom is a balcony large enough for two comfortable chairs and an ottoman. The spectacular view encompasses University Lake and much of LSU including Memorial Tower, Tiger Stadium and several sorority houses.
"My favorite thing to do is to sit out on the balcony with a glass of wine and watch the gorgeous sunsets," Harmon said. "In the fall, I can sit and watch the white pelicans fly over all of the lake."
Harmon said she enjoys walking and riding her bike around the lake and on the LSU campus. She uses the Crescent's pool and attached clubhouse, where there are tailgate parties before every LSU home game as well as parties at Christmas, New Year's Eve and in the spring. She can work out in the gym and even fish at a stocked pond in the front and a large lake at the back.
And, she said, best of all, is that she can enjoy the spacious grounds without having to do any yard work.
"I love living here," she said. "It's one of the best decisions I ever made."