Located in the heart of Coushatta, LA, the Grand Bayou Lakehouse is the ultimate escape from the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life — representing the ultimate in indoor-outdoor living. By blending innovative modern architecture with the great outdoors, this lake house is the embodiment of Louisiana’s famous nickname, “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
According to many architects and builders, there’s only one nonnegotiable rule when designing a lake house … whatever you do, don’t block the view. And that’s certainly understandable when you set foot inside the 5,100 square-foot, 5-bedroom, 3.5 bath Grand Bayou Lakehouse. Located on the Grand Bayou Reservoir — roughly one hour south of Shreveport — it was completed in 2017 under the collaboration of several design professionals including architect Scott Payne (Farmer Payne Architects), builder Ryan Smith (Ryan Smith Builders), and interior designers Alison McKenzie (Medina Interiors) and Laurie Gautreau (Gautreau Interiors).
Scott Payne, principal at Farmer Payne Architects, brought a modern farmhouse twist to traditional lake house design by making it both elegant and contemporary. ”Design is not a formula,” Payne said. “I don’t think one size fits all. I tried to establish a style [that was] appropriate to many factors … the client’s taste, site conditions, precedent buildings to natural conditions. I spent months defining the aesthetic and style with precedent imagery.”
Payne, a ninth generation Creole from Louisiana, knows about endurance when it comes to design. His love of architecture was influenced by his family’s historic plantation, classic Louisiana style of exposed brick and heavy timber, and home state famous architect A. Hays Town. Using the basic fundamentals of architectural design to guide his approach, his goal is to thoughtfully design spaces that enrich the lives and experiences of his clients and their audiences.
When it came to designing the Grand Bayou Lakehouse, Payne studied site conditions, topography and sun angles in order to “minimize man-made items and gently tuck the house into its natural environment.” He spent months with the property owners on the island before he ever touched a pencil. Aside from the view of the lake, the site itself was a heavy contributor in the building’s design.
Payne aimed to create a sleek, sophisticated world far removed from the traditional lake house one might imagine. Taking advantage of the lake’s uninhabited and natural surroundings, he was able to capture the owner’s vision of creating the ultimate place for comfort and style by using a clean, linear design, complemented by designed spaces that counterbalanced rustic elements (wood beams, a stone fireplace) with volumetric spaces; making it feel that nothing is too particularly precious or too formal. And, because many Grand Bayou residents choose to live there year-round, Payne fought the urge to “lake it up” and instead used quality materials to refine the space and give it a sense of formality.
Quick to recognize that his design services were just one element of the project, Payne attributes the project’s success to all of its contributors. “It takes a village to design and build these [types of] projects and I was pleased to be a part of the strong collaborative design effort that produced a home that is nothing less than exceptional. Two heads are always better than one.”
Inside and out–the home is full of modern conveniences and vintage touches. Here’s how some of the spaces make this modern lake house come together:
The Property & Exterior Surroundings
The house sits on an island in Grand Bayou Reservoir and required a custom-made land bridge in order to reach it. It’s nestled between a grove of hardwood trees and tucked into a small hillside. Dramatic and peekaboo views surround the house. Earth tones in the exterior paint, along with a brown metal roof, provide a nice mixture of wood and metal that blends with the surroundings. An ample amount of western facing windows not only provide an abundance of natural light, but spectacular sunset views on the lake. The house, heavily inspired by the natural landscape, conveys a strong sense of place.
Using an open, inviting and informal floor plan, the great room incorporates the living, dining and kitchen areas, exposed to one another allowing light to flow through the house. This gives the ability to accommodate larger groups, but also allows it to feel more intimate year-round; which Payne describes as “giving it a sense of formality.” Mixing neutral colors to marry with wood tones are the primary attraction. The abundance of natural light, thanks to the contemporary floor-to-ceiling windows, allow a continuous view of the outdoors whether you’re reading a book or socializing with friends.
Nowhere is the unexpected more pronounced than in the smile-inducing kitchen, with neutral interior finishes. The kitchen removes you from the everyday patterns of plaster and sheetrock, and shifts you into a relaxed mind-set with its recessed-panel white cabinets, grey backsplash, stainless steel appliances, light hardwood flooring and a custom designed island with white worktop. It is a natural gathering spot for guests. It seamlessly connects with the living areas and allows for uninterrupted views of the lake.
Porch with a View
The lake-facing ‘outdoor room’ represents the ultimate in indoor-outdoor living, framing views of the water. Retractable screens harmoniously blend the space into an open-air room with a kitchen. A trove of outdoor furniture and a built-in grill provide the perfect place to kick back and relax.
Making the most of this slender space on the lake side of the structure, the patio is long and thin but is truly multi-functional. The brick, along with the swing, gives this area a gorgeous, faded, lived-in quality, proving great views of both the lake and surrounding landscape.
Understanding the need to delineate between public and private, Payne embraced an interior palette that downplays the connection between the indoors and out by keeping the environment serene. It was important “to create a separation between the private spaces which was a priority to give Lakehouse a resort/spa sensation. A retreat if you will.” The main design element was not actually “in” the bedroom but rather focuses on what was outside the bedroom — the view of the lake. A large western facing window brings in both natural light and stunning views.
The master bathroom has a spa-like feel thanks to ample neutral light, quartz countertops and porcelain tile arranged in a simple pattern around the oversize bathtub. The shower is oversized but does not overtake the space. A huge walk-in closet connects directly to the laundry room via a ‘secret passage’ for easy accessibility.
Mud Room & Laundry Room
Built-in cabinets offer ample floor-to-ceiling storage for all outdoor activities. In the laundry room, accent lighting blends well with polished chrome faucets, quartz countertops and subway tile.
In the kids’ bedroom, dual built-in storage units strike a youthful note but could easily transition to an office space or more grown-up guest room down the road.
Bunkroom with Loft
When it comes to the additional kids’ rooms, the only thing more fun than bunkbeds is a lofted bed. The elevated spot becomes a cozy area for reading and naps. It’s practically an instant fort!
Bonus Room / Game Room
This bonus room, above the garage, gets the kids out of their rooms. Whether it’s used for entertaining or an extra sleeping space, this room brings together different design elements to create a cozy additional living space for the entire family. The windows provide tons of natural light during the day and the recessed light fixtures create a warm soft light at night. To complete the movie theater experience, a large projection screen adds to the large-screen effect.
Backyard & Pier
Featuring a simple wood dock with no cover, the pier adds a layer of sophistication to the natural environment —echoing the rustic-meets-refined approach to the interior of the home. Payne adds, “I tried to create space outside of the home and make it feel like an extension of the inside of the home. I liked the idea of a natural lakeside bank and taking advantage of the amazing site and space it lends itself too. Thus, creating a sense of arrival at the pier/dock while not interrupting the natural conditions.”
Photography by Eric Elberson