Garden District Charm
The joy of Laura and Philip Claverie’s Victorian cottage
Wicker furniture provides comfortable seating on the front porch.
The 1880 Victorian cottage has all of the charm of the Garden District with the bonus of a small, pocket park across the tree-lined street. “The Garden District is a fun, hip, eclectic neighborhood,” says Laura Claverie, a well-known freelance writer. “I love to walk in the Garden District and I take a different route everyday. The houses, fences and gardens are magical. I also love that we’re just steps from the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and Carnival parades.”
Step inside the treasure-filled home she shares with her husband, Philip, an attorney and senior partner with Phelps Dunbar, and you can marvel at how the couple has transformed a classic Garden District cottage into a comfortable, modern home. “We called in Michael Carbine, who worked for us before,” Laura says. “We think he’s a genius. He understands what we like and how we live and gets it right every time.”
To modernize the structurally sound home that the couple purchased the very first day it went on the market in 2007, Michael came up with the idea to gut the back half of the house and get rid of the 1960s-diner-style kitchen. “He designed a new kitchen across the rear, a new breakfast room and den with a wood-burning fireplace and a terrace overlooking the new 40-foot lap pool, hot tub, pool house and outside kitchen,” she adds.
Today the home is equally ideal for formal or casual entertaining – the 4,000-square foot house has four bedrooms, two full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, with the historical charm very much intact in the formal living and dining rooms. The couple enjoys dressing the dining room table with family treasures and entertaining friends at a seated dinner. Their favorite entertaining includes their grandchildren – Rylan, 5 and Amelia, 2. “We love having poolside parties with their friends. The children come here a lot to spend the night, hang out, have birthday parties and celebrate holidays.
Their large bedroom upstairs is called ‘The Little People’s Room.’”
Laura explains that since Philip is the Honorary Consul to Finland (for Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi) they have a little bit of Finland in almost every room of their home. “For Finnish and U.S. holidays we hang the flags of both countries in front of the house,” she says. “Philip posts a framed note on the crepe myrtle tree in the front yard explaining about each Finnish holiday.” Inside, almost every room has a reminder of a pleasant trip to Finland, from a Finnish landscape in the living room, to hand-blown flower napkins rings from Helsinki in the dining room, to the Finnish children’s books in the Little People’s Room.
The Claveries’ home is an oasis in the historic Garden District. It is a happy place filled with the laughter of grandchildren, the love of family and friends and the comfort of the historic blended with the best of a modern house.