Historic Charm Re-envisioned

In David Smith, Home and Entertaining by Lola Magazine

The McGehee Home • Photography by David Smith 

Jeff and Janie McGehee recently constructed this stunning antebellum-inspired home in Ruston, Louisiana. The McGehee home impeccably combines current luxury with old-world charm that is difficult to encompass in modern construction.  Janie has wanted an antebellum home since watching old movies as a little girl.  She loves southern charm and wanted her home to reflect that.  Her vision was for their home to be warm and inviting with a feel of “historic charm re-envisioned.” 

“When you pull up in our driveway, I want people to think, ‘You know she’s got some sweet tea in her kitchen.’ ” She pictured big family gatherings and a future of sitting in a rocking chair watching her grandkids play in the yard. Janie tends to think ahead. The youngest of their four children is only four.

Jeff and Janie grew up in Ruston, as did their parents and grandparents. These two high-school sweethearts were married at twenty-one. Now, seventeen years later, Jeff and Janie share four children and, Jane Marie, a wholesale company that carries jewelry, tee-shirts, pajamas, bags, and more. In many ways, the McGehees are a typical young family, yet in many ways the McGehees march to a beat of their own drum. Even with four children, there is not a single TV in their home. Janie stands firm, “Kids need to play outside, get dirty and enjoy childhood. They can watch TV on road trips!” The McGehees also don’t have archetypal family pets. They currently have two baby raccoons living on the front porch in an antique birdcage, and not long ago lost their beloved pet goat, Tucker, to old age. You never know what you will find when visiting the McGehee home, but you will always be greeted with warmth, laughter, and a fresh batch of homemade cookies.

When asked about the planning process for picking out the main aspects of this enchanting home, such as paint, flooring, and countertops, Janie laughed, “I don’t have time for that. I picked all my flooring in one day.  The walls are all the same shade of light pewter, other than wallpaper on two accent walls and in the powder room.” The wallpaper in the powder room packs a punch of personality, very fitting of Janie. Jeff left the decorating to Janie and let her pick out every last detail. Jeff said, “ I wanted her to build the house of her dreams.” “Smart guy!” Janie giggled.

Janie’s favorite room in the home is the formal living room. “It’s the one room that’s always peaceful and quiet.  I call it ‘the adult-only room.” The wood-burning fireplace is nestled between matching apothecaries from the 1850s displaying photos of their grandparents.  There’s a picture taken of her great-grandparents on their wedding day and a small platter hand-painted by her Granny.  This room turned out exactly how she imagined, full of warmth and family heirlooms. 

The grand entrance of the home boasts an antebellum-inspired, 180-degree spiral staircase constructed from poplar and hickory. This striking staircase was built in Wisconsin and driven down to Louisiana as the main, interior showpiece of the McGehee home. It took 12 men to unload and install it. Richard Heard, the contactor of the McGehee home said, “This staircase was quite a challenge, but it turned out to be something special.”

So many details of this “antique-modern” home make it truly one of a kind. From the exquisite molding throughout, to ceilings adorned with antique, crystal chandeliers, and two sprawling front porches, this newly constructed home brings the beauty of a time past to a busy modern family in perfect harmony.