Colette "CoCo" Dowden took the long way home from LSU one day and found her dream neighborhood. 

As she turned from Nicholson Drive onto Bluebonnet Boulevard, there it was: The Preserve at Harveston.

The collection of new houses sits in a rural setting, nestled around several small lakes and just minutes away from stores and restaurants. Dowden couldn't stop thinking about it.

She and her husband, Phillip, had a two-story house with a yard that took lots of work. With their children grown and gone, the upscale houses and tiny yards held great appeal. Once part of Longwood Plantation, the development has a fitness center and clubhouse, with restaurants and retail on the way. 

The Dowdens bought a house that had everything the empty-nesters wanted — four bedrooms, three full baths, an open plan and a yard with almost no upkeep.

"We found our forever home in this quaint little urban community of love. It's country living in the city," said CoCo Dowden. Added her husband: "There are cows just over the fence."

One of the things the couple loves most about the house is that it faces a small man-made lake, so no cars pass in front. Their only visitors to the front are ducks and snow geese in their seasons. 

The house, built by Tyler Watson, is designed around the main room — a combination living room, dining room and kitchen. Every room is painted in the same soft gray with cream trim, and the wide-plank white oak flooring is used throughout the house. Eleven-foot ceilings and eight-foot doorways also give a feeling of space.

"We have pretty much eliminated formal dining," said Phillip Dowden, a marine surveyor for Fugro.  

Off the living room is a courtyard topped by an arbor Phillip Dowden crafted from Douglas fir. Enclosed on three sides, the courtyard offers lots of comfy seating and an outdoor kitchen, with the a view on the open side to a fountain surrounded by blooming plants. 

The couple's kitchen is a sleek, modern space, with stainless appliances and white cabinets that stretch from floor to ceiling, offering plenty of storage. Beautiful Carrara marble tops the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms, and is used on the fireplace in the living room.

Off the kitchen, but still open to the main room, is the dining room, which is centered by the couple's antique table with pull-out leaves to seat 12 on special occasions. 

A hall of family photos at the back of the main room leads to a wing with the master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. One of the bedrooms is decorated for the couple's granddaughter, who visits often, and the third  bedroom is home to CoCo Dowden's business, COCO, a boutique selling women's clothing, purses and jewelry. Most of the shopping is online, but customers do drop by and shop. She also works for Gallagher Benefits. A fourth bedroom at the front of the house is for the couple's grandson.

The Dowdens couldn't take everything to their new house but were happy to give pieces to family members.

"We kept old and added new," said CoCo Dowden. "We love the mixture."