Project Description

St. Francisville Camp House

After Renovation

Before Renovation

“This house. gosh. I don’t know if I’ve seen a house quite this bad. Holes in the roof. Snakes on the roof. This house wasn’t a matter of replacing brown shag carpeting. It was “Don’t fall through the hole in the floor” and “Don’t walk out the back door or you’ll plummet five feet to the ground below”. So, of course, I fall in love with this house. I especially fall in love with this site. Trees everywhere surrounding you. Gorgeous birds everywhere. The house sits high on a ravine that slopes down through the woods to a little lake cove below. This is a site that’s meant to be experienced. This is a place where you want to live outside. By a fire pit. Laying on a chaise lounge just watching the birds fly around. Creating a deck for this house was key. But not an easy task. The difficulty was in working with this massive angled brick retaining wall that held up the house. The other difficulty was in creating different deck levels that would step their way down the ravine connecting the main level to the lower level master suite (that door that led to nowhere). Well, it only took fifteen site plans to figure it out. Yes, fifteen.

The solution was to create a three-tier deck that wrapped two sides of the house. A nice, wide staircase would follow the brick retaining wall to lead you from the upper deck to the mid-level deck. The mid-level deck would be home to the fire pit encircled with Adirondack rocking chairs (very important for putting your feet up on the sides of the fire pit.) From there, you take a small, hidden stair around the back side of the house to a private relaxation deck off the master bedroom. Even at this lower level, you’re still 40 feet above the cove, so the most important part of the deck design was to allow for uninterrupted views in that downward direction. The solution was to use cable railing. A great low-maintenance railing option that you can see right through.”

St. Francisville, Louisiana

Project Type
Full renovation with new deck design

M.R. Custom Builders

Addressing the House:

“Thank goodness for the highly skilled contractor. One corner of the kitchen had to be jacked up seven inches. The subfloor had to be meticulously releveled. The house was gutted entirely and put back together piece by piece. New galvalume metal roof. New cypress board and batten siding. New Dutch door and insulated windows. The contractor had a source for getting these incredible reclaimed pine floor boards with old nail holes. The vaulted ceiling became an intriguing surface for design. We used reclaimed wood to create these heavy, vaulted beams and ran tongue and groove beadboard between the beams. The beadboard was painted with a semi-gloss paint to bounce light in from the lake cove below. A huge picture window in the master bedroom frames this scenic view looking out through the trees to the lake cove below. Architecture that can make you feel like a kid in a treehouse is the kind of architecture I love. This project is a good example of how architecture can be tailored to a site to transcend the ordinary.”

Photography by Richard Vallon