In the picturesque horse country of Folsom, there’s a peaceful, pastoral setting called Pine Alley Farm. It is anchored by a handsome new house, a state-of-the art stable – the home of 11 horses – and Seanie and Ned Kohnke, expatriates of Metairie Club Gardens, where they once lived in a show-stopping home filled with mostly European furnishings and a fine collection of contemporary art.
The Kohnkes’ former Metairie house and their 25-acre horse farm both share a common thread, since each one in its own way represents an architectural gem.
“Originally, we purchased the Folsom property as a weekend retreat,” Seanie says. “Then Hurricane Katrina came calling and our lives quickly changed. Our Metairie home was severely flooded and we evacuated to Folsom, where we lived in the existing cabin on the property until we could repair our home.”
The Folsom farm was far from unscathed. “We lost 800 trees, but out of the Katrina tragedy we discovered that we loved living in the country. After the cleanup of Pine Alley Farm, we built the stable, a storage building and planted over 200 trees.”
When their Metairie home was restored they didn’t rush back to suburban living. Instead they rented the property and decided to build a comfortable home on the farm. “It was only natural that we hired Michael Bell as our architect,” says Ned, a prominent New Orleans attorney. “Michael designed the contemporary home I built before I married Seanie, and we both respected his talent.”
“With property lines of no concern we wanted a one-story, casual, warm and flowing home oriented toward the stable, open to the outside with many shaded front and rear views,” adds Seanie. Ned simply requested a low-maintenance home with low-priced utilities.
“I enjoyed designing the Folsom home for Ned and Seanie,” says Michael Bell, AIA. “The home’s form is inspired by the Acadian vernacular, with deep overhangs to fend off the South Louisiana heat and rain. It is sited to take advantage of the views of the pine trees and horse pastures. The interior was designed for contemporary living with abundant opportunity to display the owners’ art collection.”
Seanie now has her dream horse farm for her family of much-loved horses. “Only four of them are mine,” she says. “One belongs to Lorraine Caffery, my niece, and the rest belong to friends who live in New Orleans and come over well-equipped with champagne and orange juice for our riding parties. We have a grand time. However, caring for horses is very labor-intensive, yet it’s a satisfying labor of love. Fred Bass gets the credit for the incredible job he did designing and building our stable.
“We love the serenity, privacy and beauty of the farm. We enjoy waking up here every morning. I look at the photographs of what we started with in 2004 versus what we have created today, and it’s hard to believe it’s the same place.”