Owners Nancy Alexander and Judy Chastain

One Lake Charles store is making a name for itself with its approach to meeting the needs of a diverse customer base. Merchandise is offered in a wide range of prices, designs and colors.

La Belle Maison, at 115 West Prien Lake Road, is a single destination for finding gifts, furnishings, décor, antiques, antique reproductions, framed fine arts (especially Audubons), upholstering, custom window coverings, bedding and decorating expertise.

Shoppers of all ages -- whether they lean to modern, are set on traditional or understand the finesse of transitional – are finding plenty to please at La Belle Maison.

Owners Judy Chastain and Nancy Alexander have put their heads together and pulled from experience and resources to make it possible for more people to create and enjoy La Belle Maison (the beautiful house).

They agree. Expectations differ for each person, which is why they have plenty of variety and why prices are affordable.

"Everyone is on a budget," said Chastain. "We have customers who are furnishing a new home or remodeling an older home. People come in who want to invest in a period piece to build around. Some of our customers just come in to purchase lighting or a few key accessories to spruce up."

Le Belle Maison has le cadeau parfait (the perfect gift), gifts not found in other stores. A line of special preserves, candles, tea towels, wooden Italian antique trays, hand-painted oyster plates, holiday décor, timeless blue and white and framed prints of Louisiana and Natchez Trace plantations are priced to sell.

The just-in, enchanting, almost three-feet Santos dolls manage to combine reverence and whimsy in a single form. (These are sure to go fast so get in the store soon to select one for your everyday décor or for the favorite person on your shopping list.)

La Belle Maison is the perfect resource for individuals who don't know the first thing about curating a look they can call their own. Alexander and Chastain want to put to rest certain notions about acquiring a decorator.

"It's not what some people expect," said Alexander.

Alexander is known for her Lake Charles store, Somewhere in Time. In the mid-eighties, this venture opened the door for her to help clients with home decorating. She was hired to design and decorate showrooms in Dallas, Atlanta and Tupelo. She has imported containers from France. She has been mentioned in Southern Living. She continues to consult with established clients, and her services are available through La Belle Maison.

"If you build a gorgeous home, it can be a little overwhelming to decide how to furnish it for the first time," she said. "I can help, and buying right the first time can often curtail future spending."

Alexander has consulted with clients across The South, some with prestigious addresses and some who enjoy the rural life in a manufactured home.

"The one thing they have in common is they made the decision to find someone with the experience to help them get the look they want," Alexander said. "I've had clients say, I don't know what my style is, tell me. I can help with that too."

Finally, La Belle Maison is a resource for discriminating individuals in search of "that one thing" needed to complete a space or vignette.

"I am able to tell a customer that I haven't sold that particular piece to anyone else and I won't order any more," Alexander said. "Customers enjoy knowing they have a look that will not be recreated in another home."

"You have to have a starting point," Alexander said. "It can be a rug you have no intentions of parting with or a first purchase after marriage. This starting point is something that may not have a great deal of value on the market, but it does pull on your heart strings, and when you think about it, that really is the perfect starting point."

Clients can also find a starting point at La Belle Maison, and who knows what else? "For those not content with the ordinary," call Judy Chastain at (337) 794-9789 or Nancy Alexander at (337) 302-3343. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and by appointment. Watch for extended hours during the holidays.

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