Miles away from the heavy traffic and congestion of the central Northshore, a house with humble beginnings has blossomed into a showpiece for homeowners Brett and Laura Thibodeaux. The couple relocated from the Southshore more than 20 years ago and were looking for a piece of land where they could live and work. When they bought the property in Waldheim, Laura says, “I saw this cute little cottage, and all he saw were woods full of deer, ready to hunt in.”
Brett, a gifted metalworker, has his workshop on this same two-acre plot and spends as much time in it for enjoyment as he does for work. As a hobby, he makes lifelike metal fish art; as a profession, he builds specialty fittings such as staircases and door trimmings. Those talents have spilled over into the house that he and Laura have been improving and expanding since they bought it. The couple had another child shortly after moving in, and the house began to grow along with it.
Originally just 1,200 square feet with an interior that was reminiscent of a hunting cabin, the house was a ranchhand’s home on the old Higgins horse ranch. Now, this place on two acres has increased in size to more than 2,800 square feet of gallery-quality space. Three children, two grandchildren, a mother-in-law suite and countless dogs later, Brett says the house is still a work in progress and always will be. Hurricane Katrina left 11 trees laying on the house, crushing an entire wing but allowing for an opportunity for even more growth.
Every space in the home serves as a background to highlight Brett’s incredible metalworking talents. The kitchen and living rooms were reworked into one open space, with large, open cypress and aluminum trusswork soaring overhead. Scraped timber flooring made of hickory flows through the main living spaces, and handmade natural-color cherry cabinetry anchors the kitchen. The backsplash tiles even pick up on the touches of metal that appear everywhere else. Even the pantry doors feature scrolling aluminum designs handmade by Brett. One of the most unique features of the house is the light fixture that floats above the kitchen island. As thick as this slab of wood is, it’s a wonder to see it practically floating in the air. Made from a sunken cedar log pulled from the Atchafalaya basin, it provides the perfect warm, organic foil to all the sleek metalwork in the vicinity.
Some of the furniture in the house has also been handmade for certain spots. The signature mix of rustic, salvaged wood with shining aluminum appears throughout the home in artwork as well. Laura balances the masculine feel of the materials with softer themes, such as the dragonflies that appear in the guest bathroom. Some furniture pieces are sentimental, like a piece that Laura and her dad gave to her mom as gift during Laura’s high school years. It began as a piece of unfinished furniture and has had fresh new life breathed into it with furniture paint.
Even as far along as the home is now, the couple has a grand vision for the master suite, which will no doubt be the culmination of the labor of love that is their home. It seems that the little house that grew isn’t done growing just yet.