Family ties – A brother and sister build on the same property

After leaving their parents’ nest, siblings Trasie and Taylor Jeansonne never really strayed too far from home. They both graduated from the same college, carpooling and taking some classes together. Even after Trasie married Donny Stelly and Taylor wed Elisa Willson, the two young families remained close, taking extended vacations together and joining forces for hunting and fishing expeditions.

So it was only natural that when both families decided it was time to build new homes, they would wind up near each other once again. Just how near they would be actually surprised even the couples themselves.

“Trasie was considering building a new home and wanted a few acres of land,” recalls Elisa. “While looking, they found very few opportunities with small acreage, so we kind of jokingly started talking about how if we could find larger acreage, we could both build there.”

Taylor and Elisa found themselves driving down Perkins Road in Ascension Parish one day when they noticed an attractive 12-acre lot. Immediately, they called Trasie and Donny. What had begun as a joke would soon become the perfect solution to both families’ needs: Trasie and Donny would have room for their growing family, and Elisa and Taylor could get a place with a better floor plan and room for Elisa’s mother to live on-site.

“I liked the fact that we could actually buy property with some land and still be close to everything,” says Trasie. “I wanted some space where the kids could run around.”

Both couples called upon architect Jairo Leon to create the houses they had long imagined. For the Jeansonnes, that meant a dramatic structure with an Italianate style, old-world flourishes and rich colors; the Stellys’ main focus was on having an open floor plan “with space for us and space for the kids,” says Trasie, all wrapped up in a house with French flair.

Each home took a little over a year to construct, and the families moved in during 2012. Leon shaped the two families’ ideas into expertly drawn plans before bringing in Drew Gasser of Thomas Building Company to orchestrate the heavy-lifting phase. Melba Braud handled the landscaping around both homes, no small feat on such a large lot, which now includes a fish-stocked pond and year-round blooms along with the mature trees that made this spot so inviting in the first place.

When it was time to consider how the interior of each house would look, these siblings again turned to the same professional, designer Albert Nolan of Nolan-Kimble Interiors. Trasie had met Albert years earlier through a family friend. “I fell in love with his work,” she says. “He is such a talent.”

She encouraged Taylor and Elisa to meet with Albert as well. “I had no idea how to work with a designer because I had always done my own homes,” says Elisa. “I had never even had drapes done. … He helped us from the flooring to granite to faucets and fixtures, and then topped it all off with his remarkable talent for decorating.”

For months, Albert met almost weekly with each of the couples to select materials and to finalize all the beautiful little details of each room.

“Both couples were very eager to take my professional advice, which really made working with them a charm,” Albert recalls. “I would always love to hear their ideas first, then put a spin on them, so to speak. As months went by, things quickly progressed, and I got better and better at knowing their tastes and knowing their families.”

Elisa admits that she had a hard time envisioning how the rooms would look before they were finally completed. “The first night we walked into our home with all the furniture and drapes and lamps and paintings, I felt like a child at Christmas,” she says. “It was exactly like the pictures I had been dreaming about. He got it—I mean, completely got it—and made it real.”

The Mediterranean fantasy Elisa had imagined for years had finally come true in a home that’s so comfortable, she now says it has “ruined us for travel.”

“I think that if I were to describe it, I would say that a home should bring excitement and lift your spirits,” Elisa says. “This is what our house does. But most importantly, the house reflects the uniqueness of our character and way of life.”

The Stellys’ new home has been affectionately dubbed “La Nostra Casa Pazza,” or “our crazy house.” “Our lifestyle is busy,” says Trasie, referring to their three active sons. “It seems like we always have something going on, and the house just has the right fit for us. We all have our own space when we need some alone time, and it has plenty of common areas for all of us to enjoy.”

Now as both families continue to settle into their new homes, they are once again enjoying the intimacy that comes with living so near to their loved ones. “We frequently meet out by the pond or go to each other’s house for an impromptu dinner,” says Elisa. “We have been blessed to be able to live close to each other.”

Click here to view a gallery of both families’ homes.