Landscaping, neutral palete transform Pine Park ranch

Katie and Jeb Barber moved into the “eyesore of Pine Park” in 2010.

“The outside was gold and maroon,” said Katie Barber, who teaches third grade at Episcopal. “The yard itself would have made someone walk away.”

“The front had nothing but two six-foot sago palms,” said Jeb Barber, a landscape designer and owner of the landscape firm Makaira. “The back was an absolute disaster.”

Inside, it was dark and dreary with paneling on most of the walls. The floors were carpeted over the slab, and there were “weird bars” that divided the living room from the dining room.

But the Barbers loved the floor plan and the huge yard. They knew the house had potential. Within an hour of seeing it, they had a written purchase agreement.

The couple worked together to redo it. “I did the yard stuff,” Jeb Barber said. “We are lucky that I have a company that does installation and maintenance.”

The Barbers removed the paneling, drywalled and painted the entire interior in a neutral taupe beige, pulled up the carpet, and stained the concrete slab a neutral brown.

Katie Barber flipped the living room and dining room to “give us more dining space and to create a nice cozy living room. I am constantly moving things,” she said with a laugh.

The two rooms are tied together with their color palette and identical seagrass rugs, draperies, blinds and light fixtures.

The Barbers completely updated their kitchen, which opens to a large family room. They removed a wet bar to make a pantry, changed the appliances, painted the dark wood cabinets and replaced gold laminate countertops with granite.

The four bedrooms — including the nursery for 6-month-old Sadie — carry out the home’s neutral theme. The old pink and blue bathrooms have been modernized.

The home is decorated with art by two well-known Baton Rouge artists, Katie Barber’s sister, Emily Godfrey, and family friend Lauren Barksdale Hill.

Katie Barber acquired furniture over years. “I started collecting furniture when I was pretty young,” she said.

“She started buying accessories since she was in the third grade,” her mother, Ann Monroe, said. “We would go to the beach, and Katie would buy a rug on the trip.”

The yard was Jeb Barber’s project. “It was overgrown, but it was so large,” he said. “I said, I can do so much with this.’”

He designed the backyard around a stand of pine trees in a far corner. “We got lucky with the pine trees,” he said.

He converted two odd-shaped planter areas in the courtyard into rectangles, which he planted with boxwood.

The beds contain an assortment of plants including crape myrtles, Japanese maples, redbuds, junipers, cypress, standard hollies, cherry laurel, boxwood, sedum and horsetail reed.

“I constantly work in the garden,” he said. “I add to it.”

One of the latest improvements is the addition of a horizontal wooden fence that replaces two old fences that “visually bothered him,” Katie Barber said.

He also added low-voltage, soft lighting in the trees and irrigation in the beds.

Through their hard work, the Barbers transformed the neighborhood “eyesore” into an updated home and beautifully landscaped yard.

“It was quite a project,” Katie Barber said. “It was not so overwhelming that it made us not buy the house, but it was a big project.”