When Lance and Liz Bordes first viewed the Uptown house where they now live, it possessed few qualities they considered worth saving. Outside, the residence was architecturally non-descript. It had started as an one-story Craftsman-style house in 1925, then was moved, raised and added to in the 1960s. Inside, the house was dark, dated and out of step with the kind of tranquil, room-to-breathe interiors that are the couple’s specialty.
So naturally, they put in an offer right away.
Lance and Liz with their Tuxedo Persian, Baby Oatmeal (better known as “Baby O”), in the sitting/breakfast room that is an extension of the kitchen.
If there’s one thing that the Bordes—who are in the business of renewing and flipping houses—love, it’s a good renovation challenge. “I like to say even our cat was a renovation project,” says Lance of the couple’s utterly adorable, distinctly non-cat-like Tuxedo Persian, Baby Oatmeal, which they nursed back to health after the LA/SPCA had received her from a neglectful home.
In its favor, the property did have a roomy lot, a prime Uptown location, a large backyard and pool, plenty of square footage and a good price—all of which would enable the buyers to take it from drab to dreamy.
“We didn’t even go inside before we wrote the offer,” says Lance. “We had seen it online and I said ‘we found our dream home.’”
But bringing the couple’s vision to life meant that the house would have to be gutted entirely and given a cohesive, interior and exterior makeover. “We had to make the house flow,” says Liz. “We wanted it to be open and airy and fit our lifestyle, which is kind of casual elegant. We’re not formal people, but we like to entertain. We wanted a house for a younger, hip generation.”
“It wasn’t a typical Victorian with high ceilings and crown moldings,” adds Lance. “It didn’t have the attributes those old Uptown houses have. We had to change our whole way of thinking. We had to think outside the box.”
Mitchell Gold sofa and chairs, and lucite table are from Villa Vici; painting by Aaron Collier from Cole Pratt Gallery.
Tradition and sense of place guided the homeowners’ choices for the exterior of the house. They gained much needed symmetry, proportion and the appearance of height across the facade by using classic architectural features. Short windows on the ground level were replaced with tall ones like those already on the second floor. A balcony trimmed with a wrought-iron railing and supported by columns, an iron fence with sturdy concrete pillars, and a recessed front entrance framed with an archway were added to give the house a more stately presence. The arch motif that meets the eye outside was also carried through to the interior of the house, where gently curved passageways help delineate spaces and balance the couples’ affinity for straight lines with softer contours and movement.
The overall effect of the inside, however, is considerably more contemporary in feel. It’s there that the Bordes, who renovated the house with Matt Mattice of MCM Construction, were really able to give their creativity and complementary design talents free reign. (Lance’s fortes are rethinking spaces, designing streamlined, space-maximizing built-ins, and establishing symmetry and balance. Liz’s strengths are the ability to hone in on the kind of décor that’s right for a space, then allow it to develop organically without hurrying the process.)
An Oly chair from Juliet Home Furnishings is paired with a lacy irontable from the Wisteria catalog, a tiny painting found in Florida and anest of blue eggs from Perch.
“I like to see people’s reactions when they walk up to the front of our house,” says Lance. “When we open the front door, they say ‘this is not what we expected.’”
By opening and reconfiguring the choppy floor plan, the couple was able to infuse the house with natural light, create comfortable, livable rooms and incorporate an element of design that’s become essential to today’s discerning homebuyer: an ample, fully functional supply of storage and utility spaces.
An L-shaped sectional sofa upholstered in ultra suede and aslipcovered armchair—all from Villa Vici—provide comfortable seating infront of the fireplace which uses heat resistant, clean burning glass.Light fixture with box shade from Lighting, Inc.
Inspired by the architecture and design they regularly encounter in the innovative planned communities of the Florida Panhandle (Rosemary Beach, Aly Beach and Watercolor are frequent destinations), favorite travel spots like Manhattan, San Francisco and Napa Valley, and by the minimalist serenity that characterizes today’s spa environments, they then colored the interior with relaxing shades of sand and sea set against a neutral background of white walls and rich, coffee bean floors and furnished the house with an earthy, understated blend of natural materials such as linen, wood, and stone. Both the kitchen and master bath combine cool stone surfaces, state-of-the-art plumbing fixtures and plenty of sleek, modern cabinetry designed to keep countertops free of clutter.
By resurfacing the pool with luminous, blue tiles and adding a peaceful, Asian-influenced fountain, new decking, tropical landscaping and a covered patio shaded with black and white awnings reminiscent of cabanas along the French Riviera, the Bordes gave the outdoor living area at the rear of the house an equally relaxing resort feel. The master bedroom achieves its calming tone though a collage of clean, cottage whites, powdery hues of robin’s egg blue, and upholstered pieces with the retro elegance of a Hollywood boudoir.
Liz worked on the living and dining room’s color scheme of neutrals enlivened with pale blues and soft greens around the silk chosen for the curtains. Curtains are by Silk Source; table, chairs and banquette from Villa Vici; vintage 1970s bowl found in Rosemary Beach, Fla., and chandelier from Julie Neill Designs.
Yet a tour through the Bordes’ home reveals that this dream house is as much about their life together as it is about the perfect interplay of its carefully considered parts. Displayed throughout the house are various items, including an antique radio and pieces of Fiestaware, found in the houses that the couple has renovated. There are also family items like the Japanese goddess handed down from an aunt, mementos like the plate invitation from the couples’ 2004 wedding, and an antique Navajo prayer pot used during the ceremony.
Arched doorways and niches add contour and movement to the architecture of the ground floor. A demi-lune console, a vintage iron mirror found in the couples’ previous house and a wire sculpture by local artist Steve Martin keeps the foyer light and airy.
“[Navajos] use it to whisper their hopes and dreams in during wedding ceremonies and later place the pot in a prominent place in their home to remind them of all the things they aspired towards,” says Liz of the fragile artifact, which was a gift from an elderly Navajo woman and which serves as a reminder of the importance of marriage and family, two constants that supercede any renovation job, no matter how attached the owners become.
“There will always be another house,” says Liz. “It’s our passion and it’s what drives us. We never say never.”
The kitchen’s spacious island is topped with Calcutta gold marble and lit with a series of light fixtures from Restoration Hardware, both of which add a timeless touch to the room’s more modern elements.
Crisp white combined with robin’s egg blue and accents of chocolate brown brings a calming touch to the master bedroom. Jonathan Adler headboard, benches and chaise are from Hazelnut; Angela Adams rug. Bed linens and quilt from Leontine Linens.
Lance designed and built the vanity as a surprise for Liz. Ghost chair from Villa Vici.
The warm mahogany, red drapes and traditional tone of the paneled office, where the couple works, is a departure from the light colors and fabrics that prevail in the rest of the house. Furniture from Hurwitz-Mintz.