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Familiar house decorations take on new meaning this spring

April 25, 2021 GMT
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Kathy Austin and Angela Boudreaux stand outside Austin's decorated front door on Lafayette Street in Houma, La. This spring, the door design is in honor of Austin's daughter Zena who passed away last August. They've been working together for years, and their designs are a collaborative effort. (Kezia Setyawan/The Courier via AP)
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Kathy Austin and Angela Boudreaux stand outside Austin's decorated front door on Lafayette Street in Houma, La. This spring, the door design is in honor of Austin's daughter Zena who passed away last August. They've been working together for years, and their designs are a collaborative effort. (Kezia Setyawan/The Courier via AP)

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Kathy Austin has been decorating the front of her house, and bringing beauty to her corner of Lafayette Street in Houma, for 10 years.

Her house has reflected celebrations of holidays and the seasons. These days it’s spring, so bright yellow, red and pink roses frame the door, a white wicker chair holds a floral “Home Sweet Home” pillow and pink butterflies flutter gently in the wind.

Austin said she wants her house to add something to the area. It’s even become a community event.

“I know people who specifically drive past to see what’s here right now,” Austin said. “I enjoy doing it. People always say how beautiful it is and they’re always asking what’s next.”

This spring, the decorations hold a special, more personal meaning. With her friend and decorator Angela Boudreaux, they wanted to create something that would honor Austin’s daughter Zena Austin, who died in August from complications during dialysis treatment. She was 38.

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“I love every part of the décor. Everything ties in all together,” Austin said. “It’s sentimental.”

Ladybugs and flowers are woven throughout the design. The roses represent Zena’s nickname, “Rosebud,” and the ladybugs symbolize love, Austin said. There are also cutouts of her daughter’s face to keep her as a part of the space.

Boudreaux, who works with ’Tis the Season gift shop in Houma, started decorating 20 years ago and began working with Austin after. From decorating the house together with themes like fall harvest, Mardi Gras, Christmas or Easter, they’ve become close.

“They gave me my best friend all because of doing this,” Austin said.

Each door takes about two hours to decorate. Zena would often sit on a porch seat to watch and chat, Boudreaux remembers. She said it was special to do this piece because of her own relationship with Zena.

“She loved to sit back and watch me do this,” Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux said the sight has become such a staple that it can be jarring to see nothing there.

“Something’s wrong if it’s not decorated,” she said.