A family place
The Lee and Renee Monlezun place
<p class="p1">When Lee Joseph Monlezun, Jr. decided to build a place that would satisfy his longing to reconnect with his roots and disconnect with the workaday world, it’s little surprise he chose Jeff Davis Parish.
<p class="p1">“I remember, as a boy, riding in one of my grandfather’s fuel trucks to this address,” Lee said. “It has long been my dream to own a farm in rice country where we could hunt and enjoy family time”
<p class="p1">In 2015, he found the right spot.
<p class="p1">“We started planning our respite place almost immediately after the closing,” Monlezun said.
<p class="p1">The property was once a 380-acre working rice and cattle farm, and the original house was moved to Welsh and rehabbed by one of Lee’s brothers.
<p class="p1">Like his entrepreneurial namesake– Lee Joseph Monlezun III, who owned many businesses including Lake Arthur Butane– Lee, Jr. owns and operates multiple businesses. Like his father Lee, Sr., his focus is the medical industry. When he’s not working, he wants to be with family, and he wants to duck hunt as often as he can. Duck blinds are at the back of the property and the majority of the land is a resting area never hunted.
<p class="p1">A desire for low maintenance drove the decision to build a barndominium.
<p class="p1">“I don’t want to get home from work and have to do a lot of upkeep,” Lee said.
<p class="p1">The metal and steel structure means no worry about painting, no threat of termites, no rotting or splitting wood. Plus, the structure resists mold, fire and wind better than traditional materials and building methods.
<p class="p1">Renee took the helm as self-contractor after the project began.
<p class="p1">“Taking the time to keep an eye on how things are going can keep a project on track,” she said.
<p class="p1">Building the land up to base elevation required more dirt, dirt work, time and money than anticipated because of new standards based on FEMA flood maps.
<p class="p1">The interior also embraces the low maintenance mindset. Lee and Renee admit they may be a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to keeping the place organized and clean. Nevertheless, their goal was a place that felt as laid back as a duck camp.
<p class="p1">“But not one of those places that may come to mind where guys go to play cards and smoke cigars,” Lee interjected, “a family place.”
<p class="p1">The five family dogs are welcomed. The place is a great combination of farmhouse fresh and rustic, practically and simply furnished with easy-to-clean surfaces. The floors look like genuine wood. Over the stovetop and in the hallway are examples of genuine reclaimed wood, pecky cypress from Lee, Sr.’s old barn. Another useful strategy for the neatniks is Renee’s streamlined decorating, basically a few rustic and farmhouse touches carefully edited. Family photos show the Monlezuns and extended family in hunting gear. Carpenter Dustin Prudhomme fashioned a special display for Lee’s duck call collection. Renee relegated the deer trophies and hunting dog ribbons to the shop/garage, which is kept as tidy as the rest of the house.
<p class="p1">“Using rustic elements fit our plan,” Lee said. “But a barndominium can be as fancy or as basic as you want.”
<p class="p1">The Monlezuns said the builders had some great tips and they took heed of the suggestion to vault the open living area ceiling and add a rustic beam.
<p class="p1">The setting does not require any adornment, rustic or otherwise. The house is surrounded by live oaks, including one at the front of the place that has probably been there at least 100 years. A picnic table under the trees sits on a small concrete slab marked with the year it was poured, 1951.
<p class="p1">“One of our favorite things to do is go out to the picnic table with a glass of wine or beer and watch the ducks and geese come in,” Lee said. “It’s beautiful.”