Welcome to Simply Southern Cottage!
Have you ever been unequivocally smitten in a great love story? What about a love story with a house? For 22 months I wooed and pursued this beautifully broken 1926 Louisiana cottage. Simply Southern Cottage is the journey of rehabbing this classic piece of history, all the while reclaiming and restoring my life.
01 | 20 | 18
With the interior of the cottage basically finished, it became time to shift my efforts to the exterior, in particular the new landscaping and yard. If you remember, the front of the cottage was completely overgrown with Red Tip Photinias and the backyard, well, was just COMPLETELY overgrown with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Years of neglect allowed for all kinds of bulbs, poison ivy and other shrubbery to absolutely take over. In a nutshell, EVERYTHING, except a beautiful tulip tree, one dogwood and a few other smaller trees in the back corner, was essentially wiped out and I was presented with a blank slate. As with the rest of the restoration, I was adamant everything stay as close to “period” as possible. Meaning, I didn’t want any vegetation flanking the cottage that would not have been native to Louisiana in 1926 (the year the cottage was built). After spending hours researching, and talking with several landscaping experts, I settled on a design rich in both texture and … Read More
12 | 19 | 17
If you would’ve asked me 15 years ago where I’d be spending Christmas 2017, NEVER would I have told you in a beautifully restored 1926 cottage in the seat of Webster Parish. Never. I said more than once when I left Louisiana I would never return (to live). But a funny thing happens as you get older. Priorities shift, life happens and you find yourself longing for home, surrounded by those who love you most. It’s been almost 4 years since the Lord laid a return home to Louisiana on my heart and just over a year since I traded the palm trees on the south Texas coast for the towering pines of north Louisiana. Over the course of 2017, I’ve found myself shedding joyous tears, silently whispering, “This was the right decision. This was the right decision.” It was TERRIFYING for me to return to Webster Parish. I’m a totally different person than I was when I left in 1995, returned in 1998, only to leave again in 2001. I worried about where I’d go to church, who I’d be friends … Read More
12 | 19 | 17
Y’all there is nothing like seeing something old made new again! Show me an old, broken down piano turned into a desk or a coal cart turned into a coffee table and my heart skips a beat! My mom was with me the first time I saw the inside of the cottage, and she remembers thinking to herself there was NO WAY I was going to proceed with this project due to its overall condition. Little did she know as we were tiptoeing through years of neglect and piles of memories, my heart was leaping! I fell deeper in love with the cottage and was more determined than ever to reclaim and restore every square inch, turning what was old, into something restored and new! From the onset of this restoration project, I’ve been determined to reuse and repurpose as many of the original architectural details as possible. And while I have included various modern, updated features, I’ve worked hard to incorporate many details original to the cottage in 1926. What’s also interesting is I’ve been able to … Read More
07 | 13 | 17
Back in 2014, I learned about a sweet college friend, Sarah Harmeyer, who began a mission to love others well by simply inviting them to share a meal around her table. After chasing her career and feeling somewhat underwhelmed, Sarah eventually founded Neighbor’s Table: A Love Mission. Her focused shifted from “all things her” to “all things others.” Celebrating and loving her neighbors made her come alive! I heard Sarah speak at a conference and share the story of meeting her goal to gather 500 people around her table, in ONLY one year! My heart leapt! She shared about inviting her friends, her neighbors and even people off the streets to join her in a meal around a large, cedar-style farmhouse table her dad skillfully constructed for her backyard. That was 2012. To date, Sarah has served over 2500 neighbors around her table! I don’t believe it was any coincidence the Lord stirred my heart around this same time to move home to Louisiana. I searched high and low for the … Read More
04 | 01 | 17
Have you ever had the opportunity to watch dry bones come alive? I’m guessing not physically as Ezekiel witnessed in Chapter 37 of his book, but hopefully you’ve figuratively experienced something dead and dry being brought back to life! If you’ve never been a part of such a story, it’s an AMAZING experience, ESPECIALLY if the Lord allows the dry bones to be yours! Back in 2009, I was forced to enter my own valley of dry bones. Everywhere where I looked, I saw hopelessness, devastation and no way out. I spent hours on my face crying out before the Lord, begging Him to remove the yoke placed upon me. You see, prior to 2009, my life was storybook (or so I thought). I had a successful career, my dream home, Caribbean vacations and was married to my college sweetheart. All of the things that *matter* in life, right?! So when I entered the valley of dry bones, I thought my life was over. Everything I knew to be true was suddenly dead and voraciously stripped away. For years and … Read More
03 | 11 | 17
As the cottage is being renovated, more and more hidden treasures are revealed. Recently, Forrest, with Bolin Construction Company, was removing the flooring upstairs in preparation for new electrical and duct work. Tucked neatly in the floor joists, he found five crumbling sheets of paper, the top titled "Autobiography of Belle Howard Mayfield." As of this point, I can find information online about Mrs. Mayfield and can tie her to north Louisiana. But I've yet to be able to tie her to the cottage. Maybe someone reading can provide the missing link. I'm transcribing the autobiography below word for word, down to the punctuation. Due to tears in the aging paper, some words are unreadable and those are replaced with xxxxx. Autobiography of Belle Howard Mayfield I was born in Carthage, Miss., in 1854, January first. We moved to Louisiana (we started to Texas) when I was about two years old. My father was a northern man from Vermont and had been in the mercantile business in … Read More
03 | 10 | 17
*Repost from SimplySara.com, January 28, 2017 In the mid 1970’s, the Jim Hodges family rented a simple white cottage in Minden, Louisiana, from Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Fitzgerald. Little did they know at that precise moment, the Lord was orchestrating a divine friendship that would change the life of one of their daughters nearly forty years later. The Hodges family along with their two daughters, Karrie and Whitney, lived in the cottage for about seven years. Mrs. Fanette Hodges later opened Fanette’s Flower House in Minden, Louisiana, and currently operates Fanette’s Bridal Registry and Children’s Clothing Boutique also located in Minden. Karrie and Whitney in the kitchen with that AMAZING sink. The cabinet in the background will be repurposed in another part of the cottage. Seasons changed and eventually the Hodges family moved away from the cottage and to Dayton, Ohio, for a new adventure. As time went on, other renters occupied the home as well as the … Read More