Built on the Bayou: Fairytale Farmhouse is a Dream Come True
Photography by Marc Gibson
4 Bedrooms | 3.5 Bathrooms | 6,000 Square Feet
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen you know, you know. For the Willhites, building their first home wasn’t just a labor of love, but a dream the couple had been chasing for years.
Inspired by the late Louisiana architect A. Hays Town, homeowner Lori Willhite knew exactly what she and her husband Jason wanted when it came to their new home. She partnered with architect Danielle Moody of moodyDESIGNS and builder Michael Jeane of MJ Construction to create a fairytale farmhouse on the bayou.
“I had been looking for two or three months for a property to build. I had a house in mind, but I wanted a big front porch, a screened in porch — a farmhouse, basically,” said Willhite, whose home sits on Cypress Bayou in Benton. “When I drove down all the winding roads and saw this property, it was the one I was dreaming about. The water that goes beside it, it just reminded me of something from a book.”
Originally from West Monroe, the couple moved to the Shreveport-Bossier City area about eight years ago due to their growing business Action Mobility Services.
Building began in the summer of 2016 and was completed late November. Shortly after completion, their builder posted photos on Facebook and the farmhouse went viral — over 10K likes and 46K shares. The public had mixed reviews of the home, but the consensus remained the same: “I WANT THIS HOUSE!”
When you walk into their home, you’re instantly greeted with shiplap throughout – HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines would totally approve. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get all the kisses from their dogs, Nola and Jazz. Their open living space is light and full of love — family photos, children’s artwork and pieces of their past hang on walls. A Billie Holiday record is displayed on the shelf. Family heirlooms are everywhere, such as an old radio that stands in the corner just waiting to play.
White on white makes the downstairs kitchen crisp and clean. Dark wood floors create a warm feeling within the naturally lit home—a must for Willhite.
Attached to their kitchen is a bright and colorful breakfast nook, the only room with wallpaper in the whole house. Willhite said she knew everything was going to be white, but she wanted one room with a pop of bright color. As she put it, a “really girly, cheer-me-up room.”
“Some people hate it, some people absolutely love it,” Willhite said. “It makes me happy. I just think it’s so cute.”
It’s safe to say this farmhouse is a dream come true, with quirky additions around ever corner. A pantry off the kitchen is hidden by a screen door and made to look like many turn of the century style doors—don’t forget the crystal doorknob. A saltwater fish tank sits right on the outside of the kitchen which connects the main living space to an upstairs private guest room with a view of the lake and Willhite’s office. It’s also how they access their four-car garage. The couple’s master suite sits opposite and has a serene, spa-like feel with a claw foot tub and double vanity.
The home is nearly 6,000 square feet, and includes a screened in back porch where Willhite says they spend most of their time. You’ll enter it through a Dutch door if you stop by.
Right now, it’s the perfect size for the family, which includes their two children: Aniston, 8, and Emerson, 2. They run the second floor, which is primarily their bedrooms, Jack and Jill bath and attic access.
Other pieces include: reclaimed barn doors, 100-year-old wood and a simple hutch that’s more than meets the eye.
“My dad passed away when I was 16. He used to build stuff all the time,” she said, fighting back tears. “I just wanted a piece that was his that he built. It may not be special to anyone else, but it is to me. He was a great guy. That was one of his first pieces.”
She plans to re-finish the piece and pay homage to her father, along with a list of other things such as painting some thrifted furniture pieces and getting their vintage radio to work.
The Willhites’ home is a nod to the old and new; their past and their future. It may stand out from the other bayou home — “a good thing,” Willhite said — but inside it’s just like most anywhere else: full of love and a beautiful family. Welcome home, Willhites.