[caption id="attachment_142263" align="alignnone" width="1978"] A perfectly proportioned terrace was created poolside to hold the four chaise lounges with classic tables that double as umbrella holders.[/caption] When Hurricane Katrina flooded a home in Old Metairie with 6-to-8 feet of water, the property was bulldozed to create a clean slate. Once a new home was built, the then homeowner hired René Fransen and Greg Pierce of Fransen Mills Landscape Architects to create new architectural and landscape architectural designs. While a new owner purchased the home last summer, he opted to keep all the outdoor elements (with a few personal additions).
The project, which was completed in March 2014, presented challenges. “The front of the house was a flat box with no dimension,” Fransen says. “The owner had acquired a pair of antique French doors, and they needed the proper complement. This was achieved by adding cast stone scroll brackets from Tommy Lachin. These were supported by stucco columns that we designed and a curved roof to cover them. The graciously curving steps with volutes and a landing set off of the overall façade unite to become an integrated entrance to the home. The rear arched opening got quoins and stucco moldings to make it define the rear porch. The front and rear steps make a statement that helps define the glamour of the project.”
Meanwhile, the original client also had a list of needs for the overall design. “We achieved [those needs] by creating [outdoor] ‘rooms’ that had specific functions,” Fransen says. “These ‘rooms’ are porous and flow into each other.”
For example, the outer kitchen and fireplace area on the porch is intimately tied to the interior kitchen. Fransen and Pierce designed the outdoor kitchen to include Nordic appliances that the homeowner requested. “Their location has a lot to do with function,” Fransen says. “Granite that matched the kitchen countertops was used to have visual flow.”
[gallery link="none" size="full" columns="2" ids="142267,142266"] [caption id="attachment_142265" align="alignnone" width="1623"] The original owners and their contractor worked with Greg Pierce and René Fransen to sketch out the design of the outdoor fireplace, including the gentle curves. The current owner’s family crest is proudly displayed above the mantel.[/caption]
“On a beautiful fall day, all of the patio doors can be opened to create a seamless transition to the outside patio,” the new homeowner says. “The patio serves as a morning room to have coffee, and, in the evening, outdoor dining. Whether cooking inside or out, it’s very convenient to serve and clear the table.”
The patio space, meanwhile, flows down some steps to an entertaining area with an antique fountain. The overall design comes together with an entry walk, citrus parterres and a saltwater pool that measures approximately 12-feet-by-24-feet. According to the new homeowner, the pool is the perfect size for cooling off while wading or sitting on the bench that runs the length of the pool.
“The pool is not large and is strictly for cooling off and enjoying a cocktail while seeing the fountain wall,” Fransen says. “The waterline tile was from Stafford Tile and the pool deck is a Mexican limestone that does not get hot.”
Speaking of the antique stone fountain, Fransen says that he sent the original client on a buying trip to Dallas in order to source it. “We were going for a formal look with French and Italian overtones,” Fransen says. “[The fountain] looked more Italian, so we used Brodie junipers as a backdrop to mimic the look of Italian cypress that are not suited to this climate. French hydrangeas, agapanthus, butterfly iris, sasanquas, camellias, giant ligularia, citrus and Japanese red maples were used to have a constant progression of color without annuals. However, a strip was left in front of the boxwood border facing the street in case the client wanted to put seasonal color for a party or other event.”
While the landscape is symmetrical and formal, it also has a relaxed feel. “I love the expansive back patio centered on the antique stone fountain,” the new homeowner says. “I also love the variety of trees on property, as well as those of neighbors, that create a wonderful palette of shades of green.”
The new homeowner included a couple of new additions, including a life-size bronze sculpture of two figures by the pool and his family crest in solid bronze gilded in gold that is mounted over the outdoor fireplace. “Other than that, I wouldn’t and didn’t change a thing,” he says.
Overall, Fransen says that having the correct landscape architecture can aesthetically improve not only the look and feel of a home, but also a client’s life. “[This client] had great vision, and we were lucky to be involved in helping them make their dreams a reality,” he says.