A Visual Symphony

Few homes are more beautiful than a show house all dressed up with perfect landscaping, furnishings fit for the pages of a top national home magazine and just the right accessories. A return visit to a show house, once the hoopla of having hundreds of viewers pay money for a good cause to visit it has subsided, is often a disappointment. The new homeowners never quite pull it together once the just-right furnishings are removed. This is definitely not the case with the home of Lisa and Stephen Orlando, who purchased the 2007 Acadiana Symphony Orchestra Decorators ShowHouse in the Lafayette Parish town of Broussard.

“We fell in love with the house when it was just framed up,” says Steve, owner of Allison Marine, an oilfield-service company in Amelia and Morgan City. The couple discovered the house when they visited Vintage Park, a gated community of upscale homes, to see another home. They were immediately attracted to the Mediterranean architecture and the floor plan that included large out door entertaining spaces.

“It was exciting to get in on the ground floor of such an interesting project,” Lisa says. The two felt that much thought had been invested in the design and planning of the project and that architect M.L. Murphy of M.L Murphy Design Group of Lafayette had fashioned a unique floor plan. Builders Sylvia and Bryan McLain  of McLain Homes added amenities such as the use of travertine tiles of different sizes interspersed with old pine boards for floors in the large living and dining rooms. The McLains also had plans to have Hernandez Iron Works create the iron railing for the spiral staircase. “We also loved the fact that they were adding a wine cellar with a picture window facing the kitchen and keeping room.”

Lisa and Steve reviewed the plans for the house and didn’t request one change. Then it came time for the designers to get involved. “We loved everything we saw,” Lisa says. “Drapery materials, all of the wall treatments and most of the furnishings were what we would have selected.”

“We were especially pleased with how the landscaping by Cliff Hale [of Old South Landscape Services] turned out,” Steve says. “Cliff’s work added great curb appeal to the house.” Most of all, the Orlandos have high praise for the McLains: “Sylvia and Bryan had a great vision for making this house a true showplace. They are a wonderful team and excellent home builders.”

Steve smiles as he recalls what he thought the first time he saw the “dirty top” old pine boards the McLains brought in from an old orphanage. “No doubt about it, the boards were filthy and so rough I didn’t see how they could be used,” he says. “However, by the time the workmen finished cleaning, standing and laying them in a pattern of square grids in the keeping room and on the turret above the spiral stairway, we both loved them.”

The show house opened to rave reviews while the Orlandos patiently waited to move into their dream home. “We got settled just in time to have a marvelous Christmas in our new home,” Steve says. “We initially loved the house because we thought it would be good for entertaining, and having our family and friends over during the holiday season proved us correct.”

Although the Orlandos brought some furnishings from their previous home to the new house, they also purchased the entire contents of some rooms, including the accessories and all of the window treatments. “We liked keeping the best of the new while blending in our favorite things from our old house,” Lisa says.

Now plans are under way for the Third Annual Acadiana Symphony Orchestra Decorators ShowHouse to be built just down the street in Vintage Park, with the Orlandos and McLains partnering on the project. “It will be entirely different than our house,” Steve says. “It’s actually an Acadian cottage style, and we already can’t wait to see the finished product. I just hope it finds owners who will love it as much as we love our home.”