Michiel Dop, owner of Dop Antiques and Architecturals, and his wife Adela Baker, an ADHD and executive function coach, who founded Mind Coach Nola and co-owns Dop with Michiel, are not new to the field of home design. They renovated six houses of various styles (including one in the Netherlands) before deciding to build new. This time though, they chose to go with a pared-down modern aesthetic inspired in part by contemporary architecture found in such places as The Netherlands and Australia and green materials and energy sources that would allow them to live partially off the grid and benefit the environment.
Michiel, who runs Dop’s 20,000 square-foot showroom daily always wanted to build a house and was especially keen on the idea of a modern one.
“I see antiques all day long,” Michiel said. “I don’t want to come home to another antiques store. It gets old, literally.”
Adela was the half of the team focused on making the home environmentally friendly by using such things as an abundance of energy efficient windows, solar panels, a geo-thermal cooling and heating system, foam insulation, a metal roof and an on-demand water heater.
“We really wanted sustainable design,” Adela said. She likewise believes in a sustainable lifestyle – she walks and bikes to her destinations whenever possible, and has her 14-year old daughter Delphine and 10-year old son, Sebastian do the same. Adela also drives an electric car, powered by solar energy that feeds the electricity of her home.
The idea for the house was three-fold. First and foremost, Dop and Baker wanted the house to be environmentally green. They wanted a simple modern house that drew on the architecture of contemporary Dutch houses, as well as Australian houses that are green and don’t waste materials and resources. The also wanted a house that worked within its woodsy setting (the house, which is set back from the street, is reached by a gravel access road and surrounded by trees) and is filled with natural light.
“Natural sunlight is good for the body and the brain,” Adela said, and she would know, as her work focuses on helping clients make the most of their brain-power.
Dop and Baker created a digital scrapbook using pictures from the website Houzz. Among the features that went from inspiration board to final design are a focal wall with a fireplace, retro, mid-century modern inspired wood paneling, a large kitchen island with a waterfall surface, an open-tread staircase, clerestory windows and a steel roof.
There were challenges and compromises, however. According to Adela, local subs were not as familiar with state-of-the-art green practices as they are in Europe and other major American cities. While the couple chose Hardie board over IPE wood harvested from the rainforest for the exterior, they decided to forego sustainable polished concrete floors in favor of wood floors inside because Michiel walks on concrete floors at work. As New Orleanians they also allowed themselves the indulgence of a pool to make the summer months bearable.
As owners of Dop Antiques, Dop and Baker had an inside line on many things that others may not. Dop began importing antique furniture (mostly French), accents, lighting and architecturals in 2000, and over the years has expanded to include custom furniture and lighting. The business also repurposes, modifies and refreshes furnishings, and rents its wares to both the film and event industries.
Dop and Baker also shopped at IKEA, the well-known accessible retailer of modern Scandinavian design (for kitchen cabinetry and fixtures), as well as other online and local sources.
To furnish the space, they mixed a few key antiques, such as the heirloom Louis XVI mahogany hutch that Michiel inherited from an aunt when he was 18 with sleek modern furniture and organic finds, such as perforated metal pendant fixtures that resemble coral, an antique Bavarian antler chandelier, metallic branch-like sconces and a teak root coffee table that Michiel imported.
The family even created some of the home’s one-of-a-kind pieces. There is a painting of Adela done by her mother; Michiel made the pecky cypress table in the entrance hall; and the entire family spent several months of a summer painting the vibrant canvas that hangs in the den.
Having renovated numerous houses over the years, neither Dop nor Baker count out future remodels or new builds. But both are happy with the way that their green retreat turned out.
“It came out very close to what we wanted,” Michiel said. “We were very happy with it and still are.”