Located only thirty minutes from downtown Shreveport, this beautiful lake house on Black Bayou Reservoir—with transitional interiors—uses the natural contours of a peninsula to offer beautiful views onto a tranquil lake. Little did Harry and Pam Avant know that the waterfront property they had been searching for ended up being right in front of them. A simple renovation was all they needed!
For more than three years, Harry and Pam Avant searched the waterfronts of northwest Louisiana for the perfect lakefront property. Finally, in 2018, when they purchased this lakeside estate on the Black Bayou Reservoir, they knew it would take some work to get the feel they were looking for. “We knew we wanted something with the right bones,” Harry Avant says, laughing. “This house, on a peninsula at Black Bayou, had the right bones.”
Black Bayou Reservoir is considered one of the top areas for lake homes in Louisiana. Not only does it boast some of the most pristine shoreline in the region, its lake homes are some of the most sought after. Anyone residing on this lake is living at the center of it all—cannonballs off the dock, jet skiing on a sunny afternoon, evening trips on the party barge, and sunset happy hours—as Black Bayou life provides endless opportunities to make lasting memories. However, the 4,300 sq. ft., 3-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom Mediterranean estate did not represent the architectural style the Avant’s preferred, which was transitional. What they needed was a contractor and interior designer.
For the construction work, the Avant’s turned to Benny Vaughn of Ben Vaughn Builders, whom they had worked with in the past. Known for his ability to masterfully balance traditional architecture with a contemporary style of living, Vaughn’s first priority was to give the residence a sense of place along the waterfront by replacing the old and dark Mediterranean style colors with new, transitional cool greys. This simple application immediately helped create a light, airy aesthetic not only to the structure itself, but to the property as a whole.
The lakeside rear received an entirely different treatment with the removal of over thirty existing trees on the southern tip of the peninsula. This measure, according to Vaughn, helped drive the plans for the renovation—the water, incorporating the existing massing, and being sympathetic to the views. “Replacing existing Mediterranean elements and plantings with transitional elements and plantings was key for the renovation. This allowed us to reconstruct the views so that it would be seamless with the landscape. It became a part of the natural beauty surrounding it.”
Inside, the floor plan features an array of traditional elements while still providing a modern-day feel. “The openness is a very contemporary way of living, and it floods the spaces with natural light,” Vaughn stated. “Beyond repainting the walls, carpets were replaced with hardwood floors and the kitchen cabinets were refinished and hardware was replaced.”
New interior furnishings were also major components of the home’s renovation. It’s easy to see how the Avant’s like spaces that flow, so creating functional spaces with purpose and comfort was essential. Their top priority —organize the house so you could see the lake from almost every room.
To help, they enlisted the help of interior designer Cara McBroom, of Destin, Florida’s Lovelace Interiors, whom they had also worked with on previous home projects. McBroom understood the Avant’s love of color and was able to use their existing furniture and furnishings to offer a sense of orientation by adding art, accessories and final touches. These design elements would ultimately delineate individual areas within the larger space.
The final product—a lake house that is beautifully designed, decorated, inviting and livable. Come see how Harry and Pam Avant, with help from contractor Benny Vaughn and interior designer Cara McBroom, helped transform this lake house from Mediterranean dark and dated to transitional cool and casual.
When you enter the home, an archway gracefully connects the foyer and sets the stage to the sitting area, where you’ll find a large abstract figurative painting adjacent to the room’s exterior sliding glass doors. The smaller pieces in the foyer are original paintings by Louisiana artist, Ashley Longshore. To help reinforce the blue, green, pink and black in the art pieces, McBroom added striped chair pillows by Osborne & Little to help draw out the colors from the paintings without overpowering them.
Flanking the fireplace are pedestals and acrylic art sculptures. With the right light, these rainbow sculptures shine colorful prisms on the wall. McBroom commented that it was “subtle touches like this that helped bring the room alive, especially when Harry and Pam preferred such a clean aesthetic. What I love most about the Avant’s is their love of color!” And it clearly shows!
The dining room is open to the sitting room, with artwork by Santa Rosa Beach artist, Mary Hong, who is famous for mixing paint, resin, and glass together in her mixed media art. The Avant’s round dining room table was reinforced by McBroom’s selection of barrel-back chairs, an oval sideboard, a round chandelier, and a curvilinear mirror. These combined elements complimented the room’s segmented arches. The curvilinear lines help create movement and openness within the space.
To further compliment the Avant’s display niche, McBroom also added abstract art and glass pieces of various sizes. The glass pieces add sparkle and shine against the textured wallpaper, and the subtle spa-like blue tones are married with some of the brighter blues and greens, which compliments the color palate used in the rest of the home.
Harry Avant is adamant that kitchens should adapt to today. So, it’s better to think of this kitchen as a sophisticated moderator between the timelessness of traditional design and the clean, simple lines of contemporary style. “The person cooking shouldn’t be shut off from the entertaining,” he adds.
And while any transitional kitchen is a highly coveted asset, this transitional feel boasts the best of both worlds—offering a range of flexibility that allows room for self-expression and avoids confining the Avant’s to a single style or a short-lived trend. Therefore, the kitchen boasts a clean, effortless look that stems from contemporary design—but without feeling too sterile. Multiple traditional features sprinkle in texture and warmth, from the countertops to the updated cabinet doors and upgraded stainless steel appliances. And while too often people get hung up on asymmetry, this kitchen design embraces it with both arms.
The breakfast area is open to both the kitchen and living room, so it was important to blend the two spaces. As an ode to her native state, McBroom commissioned Florida native, Andy Saczynski of Santa Rosa Beach, who is known for his bright, fun, whimsical art. Because of Saczynski’s love of color, along with his brushstrokes, McBroom tasked the artist to create three color stories that tied the soft blue of the sitting room chairs, the soft green of the breakfast room chairs, and the lively pink from the living room together. “I thought the color blocking effect would be more eye-catching and modern than three paintings with all the colors intertwined.”
The breakfast area’s chandelier —known as the Caviar chandelier—is by Arteriors, and was already installed by the Avant’s before McBroom was hired. Which was of no surprise to McBroom. “Because of its uniqueness, it is always a favorite among her clients. It is both organic and modern.”
The lightness and brightness of the renovation is depicted extremely well in the layout, interpretation, and furnishings displayed in the expansive living room, making the house seem playful. To accomplish this fete, McBroom provided geometric club chairs and ice blue leather ottomans. It is apparent that the Avant’s have a love for art glass, which is why McBroom gave them a focal wall, with art glass platters displayed in a dynamic pattern.
For versatility, kidney pillows—ice blue on one side and pastel green on the other—were added to the club chairs. New pillows and accessories for the sofa were also added that contain all the bright color accents. The dramatically large painting—on the angled wall to the right of the wall mounted television—perfectly fits the scale of the room.
Pulling deep fuchsia from the painting in the master vestibule, McBroom added new bedding, pillows, lamps and art and brought it to life with silvery blues, cobalts, and pinks. The fabric used on the custom foot blanket is Osborne & Little shimmering velvet, with an abstract pattern that looks like a painting. Low, comfortable swivel chairs were added so the Avant’s would have lush seating for their view of the lake—flanked with some eye-catching, colorful artwork.
In order for Mr. Avant to have a quiet, comfortable place to work, McBroom covered the walls in a warm gray wallpaper with subtle reflective silver details. A custom area rug—with the corners cut to the shape of the room—helped reinforce the gray and silver in the walls. The soft pattern on the rug adds to the plush feel, and the reflective threads help add brightness. The addition of these warm layers helps add tranquility and a peacefulness to the room. The shimmering wallpaper help elevate the Avant’s prized Peter Max original painting.
There were two existing docks on the peninsula before the renovation—an existing boathouse on the west side for jet skis and an open dock on the east side for lounging. The Avant’s decided to upgrade the eastern dock into a double-slip boathouse for their party barge. Casual groups of Adirondack chairs, a porch swing, high-top tables (with umbrella) and a swim dock offer inviting spots to relax by the lake. “When you’re up at the lake,” says Harry Avant, “you actually get to enjoy nature. It’s a great place to entertain and reconnect with the outdoors.”
In the end, the Avant’s couldn’t be more proud of the renovation. “The number one design challenge was the color,” Avant says. “It was the perfect storm of outdated color schemes, outdoor-to-indoor conversions, and a confused mixture of spaces. However, after everything was completed, Pam and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”