Gina Khatib, originally from Fort Lauderdale, first lived in New Orleans while attending Loyola University. After graduation, she also taught in local schools before leaving to pursue her masters in early childhood education. Sammy Khatib, a native of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, relocated to Washington, D.C. for his medical residency.  After meeting in Washington, the couple chose New Orleans, which Gina already knew and loved and where a cardiology fellowship awaited Sammy, to begin their married life. Several houses in Metairie followed, but the Khatibs couldn’t find exactly what they had in mind – until their real estate agent connected them with contractor Tommy Gennusa of TAG Homes and suggested they build.

“Basically we started from scratch,” said Gina, of the project, which involved buying a corner lot in Old Metairie from Gennusa and bringing on Baton Rouge architect C.M. Oliver.

“We both had an idea of what we wanted and the architect brought what we had in our heads to life.”

The Khatibs, who have an 11-year old daughter, envisioned a house with Mediterranean and French influences. Architect, builder and homeowners spent months getting it right in the planning stages. They opted for classic materials – wood, wrought iron and stone – and a quiet color palette to stand the test of time, a large kitchen for entertaining, a pool for New Orleans summers and tropical landscaping to compliment the Mediterranean quality of the architecture.

“I would do it all again,” said Gina, who found the process smooth, easy and designed to stay within budget. “Tommy works a little differently. He has you do everything up front. You pick what you want and you know what you’re going to spend. We had to go back to the drawing board a few times to get what we wanted, but it was a great way to go about it.”

Gina also liked the collaborative nature of the project. She worked closely with K&S Custom Woodworks to customize the various storage space in the mudroom so that it was tailored to the family’s needs.

Creating the perfect interior to suit both husband and wife’s tastes, required a bit more finessing. He favors elaborate and traditional, while she prefers clean open spaces with lots of light and touches of gold and French blue. Gina worked with several designers before finding one who perfectly blended the two. Tasked with decorating Sammy’s library first, interior designer Tina Lagasse of Jade won the couple’s confidence.

“We clicked with Tina,” said Gina. “She knew what we wanted. We bounced a lot of ideas off each other.”

Lagasse, who likewise felt there was a meeting of the minds from the get-go, guided the couple to a mix of antiques and contemporary pieces. By not investing exclusively in antiques, the budget would go further, the house would be finished sooner, and the combination of furnishings would look acquired over time, a particularly important goal when starting with a clean slate.

“The design came together easily,” said Lagasse.  “Then we implemented it gradually.”

While the kitchen is white for her, a backsplash with contrasting brown adds warmth and interest for him. While the living room is serene in its coloration for her, it also includes a pair of ornate antique mirrors for him. While the master bedroom combines a spare and peaceful mix of French and modern notes for her, the powder room is wallpapered with a classic damask that speaks to his love of traditional. The rugs in the house are muted for her, yet they still have pattern for him.

“It’s a good balance,” said Lagasse. “It’s pretty cohesive.”

The Khatibs are in complete agreement. “The whole process took about a year and a half,” said Gina, noting that the couple lived in a less-than-ideal apartment while building. “But in the end, it was worth it.”