A Touch of the Irish
Beth James and Dave Malone’s Prairieville home lends itself to creativity and peacefulness.
Photographed by Craig Macaluso
Beth James and Dave Malone live on a picturesque 100 acres known as Broussard Grove that had been in Beth’s family for five generations before they acquired the property in 2006. Their two-story rock house appears to have been lifted out of the Irish countryside and transported to the rich Louisiana farmland.
Dave’s mother, Gertrude Songy, grew up at Evergreen Plantation on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in Edgard, and after she married his father, they purchased an adjacent house. “I am happy to be living in the country again,” he says. “I loved growing up in a small town where everybody was friendly. We appreciate the kindness of the people in our community, and I feel connected to a special freedom I felt as a child and young man living in the country.”
The 3,800-square-foot home was designed by Brian Bockman and Jack Forbes of the New Orleans design and architectural firm of Bockman + Forbes. Both Brian and Jack are architects and designers. “They are masters of elegant design,” Beth says. “We went to them after Hurricane Katrina when we were living in Uptown New Orleans, and told them we wanted something less formal than our present residence, but we did not want a typical casual home either.”
“Brian and Jack have extraordinary resources, impeccable taste and kept the entire project of building our home on schedule,” Dave says. The result was a unique two-story floor plan sitting well back from the winding country road. “The construction was completed in 2008 and we think the design of the house is very special.”
The frontman, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for the much-loved Radiators, a band that reached national acclaim during its more-than- three decades of existence, Dave says that his favorite space is the music studio that is joined to the rest of the house by an open breezeway. Here, he continues his music passion writing songs and working with the Raw Oyster Cult, his band that features three of the five original members of the Radiators.
The railing on the three-level stairway was built by Russian finish carpenters using the old process of soaking the wood for the rail in water and slowly bending it to fit the radius.
Beth, who is on the management staff at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens on the Historic Mississippi River Road in Darrow about 17 miles from their country home, explains that the interior was designed specifically to separate the different living spaces. “We initially wanted a replica of the historic Pitot house in New Orleans,” she says. “We changed our minds when we decided to build a stone house similar to those we had admired when we visited Ireland.”
Built of Eldorado stone, the walls of the house are very thick. “The energy savings and noise reduction of our stone home is amazing,” Beth says. “Another benefit is that the house is fairly maintenance-free.
“Our good luck during the construction was finding two skilled Russian finish carpenters, who knew exactly how to build the three-story staircase, which included bending the railing using the old process of soaking the wood for the railing in water and slowly bending it to fit the radius. It is a true work of art.” The carpenters also created all of the trim work on the site. “We detailed the house using cypress and recycled wood, which came from an original building on the property that had been torn down,” she adds.
The spacious living room occupies the entire front of the house.
Light floods the dining room from the tall glass windows and doors. A Saarinen pedestal table and JANUS et Cie chairs provide comfortable seating.
The second-floor master bedroom opens onto a Juliet balcony and roof deck.
The rear of the James-Malone house evokes a feeling of being on vacation with a large swimming pool and expansive patio for relaxing. A handsome pergola joins the all-glass side porch, creating a picturesque setting for al fresco dining. “It’s an ideal setting for entertaining,” Beth says. “And our five grandchildren – from 2 to 9 years of age – love to visit and play in the pool.”
Maximum storage is provided in the kitchen with a wall of cabinets behind the center island.
Furnishing for the home are from great furniture makers such as Knoll (founded in New York City in 1938 by Hans Knoll), Saarinen (designs by Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American architect famous for his neofuturist furniture), Grange (manufacturer of fine French furniture since 1904), and JANUS et Cie (leader in modern furniture for 35 years) and French and English antiques. The custom sofa is a replica of an original 1970s by Milo Baughman that was in Beth’s mother’s home. Neil Peyroux, owner of Peyroux’s Custom Curtains in New Orleans, is responsible for the handsome drapes.
“Here we relax and enjoy the peaceful country setting in a house that has all the modern conveniences,” Beth says. Dave agrees and adds, “Living here is like always being at a resort.”