YOU KNOW YOU’RE in Louisiana when you can only get to your house by boat! “Off Da Grid” is Rebekah and Lee Parrish’s rustic refuge on the bayou offering them the peace and calmness of nature with all the conveniences of home. The seeds of an idea for the personal safe harbor of the couple who met in the Louisiana Army National Guard in 2012 came with the purchase of land on Bedico Creek in Ponchatoula shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Those plans blossomed when Rebekah, a 20-year army construction engineer created the architectural and interior design. “Our inspiration was the beauty of the Louisiana landscape with the black, gray and brown color palette reflecting the hues of the swamp.” The cypress for the walls and accessories came from Acadian Cypress and Hardwoods in Ponchatoula; Louisiana Poplar is used for the butcher block counters and island top with cabinets and shelves in pine; the tin, which they cleaned and preserved, was reclaimed from a nearby chicken coop that was being torn down; and the rope accents lend to the nautical theme. Durable, luxury vinyl tile flooring with a darker woodgrain finish stands up to heavy foot traffic while beautifully contrasting the lighter cypress and tin.
An eight-foot cypress sign, donning the getaway’s playful name and fashioned by a friend and fellow veteran, began welcoming the Parrish family and their guests upon completion of the home in 2018. That year also saw the expansion of the family to include a new baby brother to Lee’s daughter Abbie. Says Rebekah, “The whole concept is completely custom designed with a whole lot of love and care to create our idea of a little slice of heaven. We wanted a place away from it all but still connected. So along with great cell reception, it is fully equipped with wi-fi, a Flir security system with five cameras and a remotely controlled central air and heat system.”
Rebekah says that a lot of logistical coordination also went into the construction of the creekside family haven which is reached by a 10 to 15-minute boat ride depending on embarking from Lee’s Landing or Bedico Creek Landing. The 1100 square feet of living area is surrounded by extensive decking and outdoor space including a wrap-around top deck extending 10 feet out along the back and 30 feet out along the front, of which 10 feet is covered on all sides. Oversized windows allow in plenty of natural light and stunning views of the lush Louisiana landscape they so love. “The back side has this amazing breeze and the kids play in the front which is directly over the boat docking area. We have campfires and s’mores up on the deck which serves the dual purpose of usable area and also protection for the boats and items housed underneath.” Two slips, one 14 feet and one 10 feet can comfortably fit a pontoon boat with room for a variety of other boats and recreational equipment. “The boats are always ready to take the kids out fishing, frogging, kayaking, or paddle boating. If the weather is good, we ride to Lake Pontchartrain or explore offshoot waterways for alligators and beautiful birds. If not, we’ll putt along and visit friends down the river.”
The home sleeps 11 in two downstairs bedrooms and an upstairs loft, not including common area options such as comfy sofas. The one bathroom is designed for maximum usage with army-inspired efficiency. Shower and toilet/sink are in separate quarters so both can be utilized at the same time. The kitchen boasts a farmhouse sink, side-by-side refrigerator, island, and a hooded electric range with glass cooktop. The cabinetry is an open design so if friends or family are staying while the Parrish family is away, they can conveniently see where pots, pans, dishware and utensils reside.
While the home lives up to the state’s motto of Sportsman’s Paradise and all of the family’s dreams, an unfortunate situation has led them to sacrifice it for the sake of their young son. Mason suffers from a one-in-a-million condition called hypohydrotic ectodermal dysplasia which means he cannot regulate his body temperature or sweat. Temperatures over 72 degrees are uncomfortable for him and heat stroke or death can occur with increasing heat.
Rebekah and Lee have put their house on the market with plans to move North. Says Mason’s mother, “We’re going to escape the heat and humidity here and move to a climate that allows him to run around and be a little boy. We love river life—it’s indescribable—the scenery, the wildlife, the water activities and the camaraderie with neighbors. And it’s such a unique property. It comes turnkey with the kayak and paddle boat, all the furniture, tools, generator, pots and pans, dishes, sheets – everything. You can just pull up in your boat with groceries and everything else is waiting for you. We know someone special will get it and love it just as much as we do.”