A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

Driving down the quite uptown streets, the charming salmon-colored camelback shotgun seems like any other traditional New Orleans house.

No one would guess that until recently this place was a “dilapidated and falling down,” according to interior designer Stephanie Lessans Adler, ASID, who also holds a master’s degree in architecture.

It was she who saw the potential in this place, even when there was almost nothing left to see.

In the entryway, a faux finish by Madilynn Nelson that was inspired by Chinese wallpaper creates a neutral backdrop to a mix of modern and antique.

Friends of Adler were searching for a vacation home in New Orleans. “I thought this place would be perfect,” Adler says, “because if you’re going to renovate, you can’t truly get what you want if the space has already been planned. With this house we could create exactly what they wanted.”

What they wanted was a one-story residence, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house was originally subdivided into three apartments, and Adler conceived a plan to narrow that down to two units, the larger of the two serving as her clients’ vacation home. The work began about two and a half years ago.
“The building was infested with termites,” Adler says. “We basically had to almost tear the whole place down.”

Customcabinetry by K & S Custom Woodworks takes up one side of the wall,creating space to display art and books, as well as storage and a placefor the flat-screen TV. The built-in bench, designed by Stephanie Lessans Adler, is upholstered in Robert Allen’s “Holdsworth” in Lagoonand was made by Upholstery by Anthony, which also did the pillows. The wave-like Kravet fabric used for the window treatment, made by Donice Smith of Donice’s Draperies, coordinates all of the room’s colors and invokes a resort theme.

Today, the house has been refashioned with a stunning open floor plan, featuring a state-of-the-art kitchen and an inviting, airy living room/ dining room combination. “We took out a fireplace and the floor would not align properly, so we came up with a pattern to cover up the space where the fireplace was,” Adler says. Only the wide pine floors and wood windows were salvageable from the original structure. 

From the outside, the house looks like the quintessential New Orleans camelback shotgun, while the interior is contemporary, but still respects the past.

Adler took a design risk by adding crown molding to a modern space. “I just felt in a house this old that crown molding would definitely be here, so I added it, making it a somewhat eclectic space,” she says. The result? The rooms feel appropriately framed, and the house, while contemporary, has a distinctly old New Orleans feel. Adler also wanted as much natural light as possible, so clerestory windows are placed throughout the house.

Theopen floor plan makes entertaining easy. The couch and adjustable coffee table (it can be raised to be an extra dining table) are from UDwell.
The paintings of the home-owners’ grandchildren are by Mod Art Portraits. The ceramics in the wall unit are by local artists Nini Bodenheimer or Joann Greenberg.

“The clients desired a flat-screen television in the living room, so we added custom cabinetry on one whole wall to frame the TV,” Adler says. A “beach-house blue” wrap-around sofa creates a warm entertainment space. Portraits of the
owners’ grandchildren, painted by a local artist in pop art style, present a sense of whimsy to the space. A local artist, Madilynn Nelson, did soft gold faux finished walls.

It took Adler a couple of years to complete this project, since Hurricane Katrina interrupted the process. The result was worth waiting for, and those in the know agree. Adler won ASID’s South Central District, 2006 Professional Design Competition, Gold Award for Design Excellence in a
Residential – Single Family Dwelling (under 3,500 square feet).

Stained-glass windows add vibrant
hues to the kitchen with its surf-green granite counters from Tuscan Imports, GE Monogram appliances and custom cabinets from K & S
Custom Woodworks. The beadboard ceiling and exposed wood beam recalls the charm of what was once an old porch.

Soft colors and lush fabrics in the master bedroom create a calm area to rest. The silk and wool rug is from the Home Decorators Collection, the bed from Hurwitz Mintz and bed linens from Overstock.com. Donice’s Draperies made the curtains from a Kravet fabric.

The master bathroom shower shimmers with glass tile from Stafford Tile & Stone. The clerestory window brings in natural light, while
allowing for privacy.


Renovation Tips
By Stephanie Lessans Adler, ASID, AIA Associate, Adler Hornbrook Design

1.) If using salvaged doors and windows, buy them at the beginning of a job so spaces are designed and framed with those sizes in mind.

2.) Plan to have as much lighting as possible. Fixtures can be dimmed, but if there is not adequate light it is difficult to add it later.

3.) Wall mounting vanities and cabinetry off the floor makes a small space appear larger.

4.) When selecting bathroom fixtures be mindful that polished chrome and polished brass are the only finishes that are consistent in color. This is helpful when matching different manufacturer’s fixtures as well as bathroom accessories, i.e. towel racks and tissue dispensers.

5.) Microwaves are not a high-end kitchen item and are rarely attractively displayed. By placing it below the counter, children can heat up their own meals and the appliance is kept inconspicuous.

6.) Drawers and pullouts in kitchens provide more accessible storage for pots and pans than a base cabinet with shelving alone.

7.) Consider placing an extra electrical outlet behind a bathroom vanity drawer or inside a kitchen cabinet. This will allow items to charge while they are stored. It is great way to store and use the hairdryer and helps to prevent counter clutter.

8.) When working on a tight budget, consider using an inexpensive tile to cover large areas. More expensive tiles can be used as borders, accents or placed sparingly throughout to give a well-appointed look.

9.) When tiling your backsplash, don’t use the typical 4-inch counter surface material. This is a great area to display pretty tile or a mosaic pattern. Two large contrasting materials look like an afterthought.

10.) Many full-size front-load washers and dryers can be stacked in a closet to provide more storage space without settling for the smaller stacked all-in-one unit. 

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