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American Style

Garden District home has a modern touch

The large living room takes full advantage of the courtyard through large expanses of glass; Lavigne built the bookcases flanking the fireplace.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHERYL GERBER

“The design of my new house was founded in the spirit of the neighborhood,” architect Joseph “Joe” Lavigne says. While the home is thoroughly modernist, not mimicking the historic styles of the area, it’s based on the traditions that formed the feel of the surrounding neighborhood.

To be sure, it isn’t typical of the center hall historic home that was built before 1900, yet the house on a corner of Camp and Thalia streets offers more than the surrounding historic homes. “Though the area still has the earlier flavor of the French and Spanish urban style, the American Garden District type of home is most prominent,” Lavigne says. “One thing that fascinated me was the repetitive sizes of the elements of the old houses that added up to the total interesting proportions.”

While the house is only set back six feet from the sidewalk, creating a close relationship of the house to the pedestrian street, it’s far enough back to establish a personal identity. The clean lines and slightly elevated base of the structure make it blend pleasantly with the neighborhood. “The front of the house provides the privacy I wanted, yet a pedestrian can still glimpse into the house to get a welcoming feeling,” Lavigne says.

Both levels overlook the courtyard through a wall of glass that floods the house with light. Ten-foot ceilings add to the spacious feeling. Ash wood floors reclaimed from a warehouse were stained dark to add to the modern design, and the white envelope that covers all of the interior walls and ceilings gives the home an almost gallery-like feeling. “I designed a skylight in the tower at the top stairs to serve as a light scoop and add intensity to the curved stairway and open balcony on the second floor overlooking the living, dining and kitchen area below, with the view continuing to the porch and courtyard beyond,” he says.

Rugs define the seating area in the living room and Lavigne proudly explains that he built the bookshelves that flank the fireplace. A unique black-and-white scripted rug defines the adjoining dining room space. “The ceiling in the dining room encompasses the second floor thus adding to the volume of the main living area and providing an interesting view of the downstairs from the second floor gallery. Then to continue the open floor plan, I designed a sleek kitchen with a large island to complete the first-level living quarters.”

The second floor features a large master bedroom with two completely separate his and her bathrooms. Lavigne prides himself with having built the dividing wall of storage and the closets behind the wall.

On the opposite side of the second level are his and her offices, with Lavigne’s office overlooking the park-like setting in the broad neutral ground between the divided streets in front of the house.

Built on a 52-by-84 foot corner lot, the 2,350 square foot home features a 22-by-52 foot French Quarter-style courtyard. Another major feature of the house is a porch and upper gallery across the entire rear of the house, thus providing pleasant vistas from almost all of the rooms in the open floor plan.

The courtyard is broken up with separate gardens, seating areas and the broad 6-by-42 foot porch adding to the ideal setting for entertaining. A 13-by-32 foot studio adjoins the courtyard to complete the lot plan.
 

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