Old World Wonder
When the owners of this magnificent house began their new home search, their check list included some must NOT haves, along with some non-negotiables. This accomplished neurosurgeon, along with his wife and three children, knew they were ready for a completely different aesthetic than they’d enjoyed in their previous home — an oversized Creole cottage in the area of New Orleans known as Esplanade Ridge. Though the family loved that home — built in 1845 — with its familiar French architecture and proximity to all of the richness and culture New Orleans has to offer, they were definitely ready for something newer, larger, with a bigger yard, as well as the great schools the area had to offer them.
Ben Crawford, the master builder of the 8,133-square-foot home, shares, “When this family visited this home with their realtor, not only were they happy about the school district, they were thrilled with the space the home afforded them. Their previous home was only around 5,000 square feet on a small city lot, and their only yard was a small city courtyard.”
Along with great schools and space, the couple told their realtor they desired a “showplace they could live in.” Todd Rice, the architect on this home, reported, “When Ben and I started working together on this home, he told me to put together six bedrooms, a three-car garage, a home theater, up- and downstairs living areas, a ‘knock-out’ master bedroom and bath suite, chef’s kitchen, a laundry room to love, an outdoor loggia with an English Tudor exterior. Architecturally, this home most definitely is a showplace.”
The interior, too, was masterfully designed to exude luxury and prestige. Maria Tracy, who has worked closely on architectural interiors with the Crawford/Rice team, shared that her design influence was “Old World, with a kick of French.” Tracy explains the she started with Rice’s blueprints and did a furniture layout. “After looking at the architectural plans, we decided to do a few modifications so the spatial flow of the home would enhance the spaces. For instance, we moved a wall so that the living room would be more open and added a wall to allow for art pieces.”
Once the architectural design and the interior design were Zen, the personal tastes and style of the people who will live in the space became primary. These homeowners desired authentic finishes and furniture styles, so Tracy turned to her go-to team of experts. “When a homeowner desires high-end authentic finishes on walls and cabinets, Segreto is who we turn to.” The plaster walls and cabinets here are both stained and faux-finished to ooze with a genuine Old World quality.
Other elements of the home’s interior finishes which the homeowners love is the use of antique European concrete tiles from Chateau Domingue throughout the home — in the kitchen, in the baths, on the floors — which lend a timeless classic opulence. “The use of stone in the dining room walls is not only authentically European, but also gives the room a really cozy aesthetic,” said Tracy. Additionally, the couple loves the Old World lighting fixtures throughout their dwelling.
Another important and unique design feature of this lavish home that also speaks to its status as an Old World-style showplace is the kitchen. Not only is it fit for a master chef with its state-of-the-art appliances and technology, but the finishes are distinctively above average. Rather than equipping this space with traditional cabinetry, the design employed the European method of bringing in furniture to finish the cooking and prep spaces. “You won’t see standard builder cabinets here,” Tracy explained. “To make this kitchen feel really Old World-ly, we used couture furnishings, to develop generational charm.”
When asked to point out the “kicks of French,” the homeowners proudly refer us to their custom living room fireplace. They shared, “It is French-inspired; replicated beautifully by the carpenters and finished by Segreto.” They also point to the French chandelier in the dining room and the cabinets in the family room. The wife explains, “These cabinets have metal insets, rather than simply glass fronts, which is distinctly French and affords an uncluttered look.”
Absent from this sumptuous design are jarring, contemporary colors. The palette here is calm and soothing throughout the home. The colors scheme is more muted and low-key, just as you’d expect in Old World European abodes. The effect is subdued elegance and hushed indulgence, as is also true with the furniture selections. “Our furniture is comfortable, casual and livable — which is important when you have three children under 14,” revealed this wife and mom. “We selected durable fabrics, like linens, which are classic in style and smart in function.”
The texture and durability of furniture, along with elegant design, are also important to this couple because they love to entertain. “Among the reasons we’ve already listed that we love our home,” the couple shared, “is the amazing entertaining spaces. There is room for us to host colleagues from the medical community for more formal affairs, as well as for us to simply have some neighbor friends over and sit around either in the family room or outside. And we can send the kids to their gameroom or the theater for movies. We had none of this luxury in our Creole cottage.”
When asked about their favorite rooms, the doctor quickly spoke his approval of the study. “I love that it is rather untraditional — in that it is more the style of a library than an office.” His wife loves her family room. She said, “The layout is such that there are different seating areas, so the room can feel cozy and close or expansive and roomy, depending on how we are utilizing it.”
All in all, this living experience represents the epitome of satisfaction for everyone involved. Explained the homeowners, “We found that when you enter this process knowing exactly what you want and don’t want in your home, it becomes a much less daunting task. The builder was obviously open to good design and appreciated the expertise of the architect and the interior designer, whom he trusted to design a unique, high-quality product. For us, that means our investment is enhanced in a beautiful way, and we can enjoy the kind of beautiful lifestyle we have worked hard to create for ourselves.”
TOP IMAGE:Open on three sides, the living room required an open seating area centered on the fireplace, designed in the manner of a French chateau. Antique French tiles were inset in the wood hallway, leading into the dining room and on the face of the fireplace.
text by CHERYL ALEXANDER | pictures by WADE BLISSARD construction by BEN CRAWFORD, SPEC BUILDER interiors by MARIA TRACY, TRACY DESIGN STUDIO architecture by TODD RICE, RICE AND ASSOCIATES
Old World Wonder