Turning the Page
There’s a rocking horse against one wall in the living room and another one in the den, and just behind the one in the den is a life-size soft sculpture of Terry wearing a crown that Henri had made for one of his birthdays. There is even a Wheaties cereal box nearby with Terry’s face depicted in place of the usual sports hero.
“We enjoy surrounding ourselves with things that make us smile and are reminders of a joyful life,” Henri says. There is an air of grandeur about the home but touches of playfulness personalize each room.
Construction on the Halls’ home started in 2003 and was completed a few months after Hurricane Katrina. “Fortunately, the property didn’t flood and there wasn’t any major wind damage from the storm,” she explains.
The design of the house has an interesting history. The original house on the site was built in 1940, to pay homage to a California home the original homeowners saw and admired on the pages of Architectural Digest. “Here’s the original house,” Henri says as she leafs through the pages of the faded magazine that featured a floor plan and several photographs. “See the oval dining room, and here’s the entry that was faithfully copied.”
Henri and Terry moved into the house in 1982. Time passed and the coupled decided they wanted a larger home with higher ceilings. Terry figured it made more sense to tear the house down and start over than to embark on a major renovation. “I agreed, providing I could have the exact floor plan in the new house,” she says.
The couple enlisted architect George Hopkins Jr., AIA, to do the design. “His first drawings were what he considered to be a better version of the floor plan. ‘No, no,’ I told him in earnest, ‘I want the exact house.’ The final result is a house that grew from 4,500 square feet to 7,700 square feet, with ceilings that went from 10 to 12 feet high, larger windows for more light and special touches such as glass-front cabinets in the new kitchen that replicated the ones in Terry’s mother’s home.
The team that made it all happen included Louis and Rene Chevalier of Chevalier Builders, interior designer Alex Rico, creative faux painter Gretchen Howard and Elaine Forstall, who made the draperies. “We have nothing but praise for all five,” Henri stresses as she asked that each name be mentioned. “Each one worked hard to please us.”
The couple is happy with their new home. “It definitely pays homage to the original house on the pages of Architectural Digest and I have never regretted insisting on the same floor plan,” she says. “It works for us and we love the high ceilings and added light from the large windows.”