Home: Retro Renovation
Alice and Richard Roth renovated their 1970s Thibodeaux house with respect for its classic modernist design
When one thinks of saving an architectural treasure in southwest Louisiana, plantation houses with wide porches and sweeping staircases or quaint Acadian cottages encircled with moss-draped oaks come to mind. Not so in the case of Alice and Richard Roth’s circa 1970s Thibodeaux home. Its modern architectural features, more closely aligned with design of the 1950s and ‘60s than the 1850s and ‘60s, include an unusual A-frame roof divided down the middle, a striking center walkway and gate, and a koi pond (a 4,000-gallon aquarium that originally went through the house). Yet it too is an architectural gem that has been lovingly preserved.
Designed and built by engineer Bob Blair and his wife Susan in the early 1970s, the house still speaks to those who appreciate midcentury inspired modernism today. Several years after purchasing the house in 2005, the couple began working with architects Terri Hogan Dreyer and Ian Dreyer of NANO Architecture & Interiors to design a renovation and addition that are seamlessly in step with the original house.
“We loved the house because of the way it was designed; the pitch of the roof, the brick, the aquarium, the gate,” the Roths say. “We had no intention of doing away with that. We hired an architect who knew we wanted it to be an addition that you wouldn’t have even known it was addition.”
Not only did the Roths respond to the wow-factor supplied by such things as a sunken living room, they also appreciated the way the house lives. Alice particularly loves the fact that the house has separate spaces for different uses and activities unlike many of today’s open concept houses.
The footprint and layout of the original portion of the house remained the same. The couple did however raise the sunken living room to the level of the rest of the house.
“We use it even more now,” the Roths say.
The renovation opened the kitchen to the dining room and completely remodeled it with custom walnut cabinets and millwork, travertine floors, new fixtures and surfaces. It also included a new sleek master bath that repeats the walnut of the kitchen.
The addition, intended as a casual living space for the couple and their 9-year-old son, the last of the Roths’ four children still at home, includes a den, a game and exercise room, a pool bathroom and a storage area. The NANO team created it by elongating one side of the house and outfitting it with large-scale windows to bring in the newly refurbished outdoor area, which features an L-shaped pool, a seven-foot cantilever for shade and a mix of California- and Louisiana-inspired landscaping.
“We repeated the architectural vocabulary that exists in the front of the house,” says Hogan Dreyer, referring to the addition’s windows as a sort of homage to the façade of the house. “At the same time, we also injected modernity so you get the full effect of the outdoor living space.”
The Roths furnished the house in collaboration with Hogan Dreyer — also an interior designer, whom Alice describes as “always thinking of the whole house,” and completed the space with things that reflect their lives — organic elements, meaningful pieces, such as cypress carvings by Alice’s father and art by locals.
“Credit goes to the original builder and designer for its appeal,” says Alice. “And Terri had a feel for the house’s original intent and our vision. Whether it’s just our family at home on a quiet night or a gathering of friends and family, we use every space.”