It’s time to make big pitchers of iced tea and lemonade, kick back and relax, or take a refreshing dip in the pool. Summer is sultry and languid in New Orleans, and many homeowners create paradisiacal oases in their backyards. Each one is distinct, as would be expected in the diversity that is New Orleans in all things, even pools, porches and patios. Whether it is traditional, modern or bohemian, the common thread is sybaritic.
Scott James and Greg Morey relocated from New York City loft living to a historic Garden District home that was built in 1857. They love to entertain and decorate (while in New York, James was the in-house architect for luxury retail designers, inluduing Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Michael Kors). Their annual Christmas party is legendary, and it spills out onto their luxurious courtyard. Since moving into the house, they have renovated the master bath and kitchen, and are in the process of updating the carriage house.
Landscape architect René J.L. Fransen (renefransen.com) designed the garden, but the homeowners do their own gardening, and feel blessed to have two magnificent magnolia trees in the yard. The courtyard space at the back of the house has a beautiful pool surrounded by lush plantings. The stairs leading to the back entrance are used as an ever-changing staging area for pots of plants that are restyled as the seasons dictate.
Erica and Kevin Bart took a leap of faith when they purchased a home flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and totally renovated thereafter. The location is in Lakewood South, and their property abuts up to the 17th Street Canal. When they first purchased the home, the large backyard was not landscaped. Dreams of putting in a pool evolved. They wanted the space to resemble their favorite luxury hotels. The Barts finally made the dream come true this past year. They designed the pool, patios and garden areas themselves, and got professional help from Smoketree Landscaping (smoketreelandscape.com) with the plantings and landscaping. The expansive vista over the canal levee gives the pool an amazing open feel.
Greg App has a love of restoring old New Orleans homes. He’s not the usual renovator prone to knocking down walls and modernizing the original footprint of a space. The infrastructure is certainly updated and redone (plumbing, electrical and so forth), but his projects are a marvelous time machine of preserved textures evocative of the romance of old New Orleans. Seraphim Maspereau built what's now called the Seraphim House (theseraphimhouse.com) in the 1860s. It came as no surprise when App designed and added a pool (gregspoolsandspas.com) in the back of his center hall home located in the Treme, that he would utilize reclaimed materials in a major and unique way. The patio was painstakingly laid by hand, using incredibly heavy old ballast stones whose weight was once used to stabilize ships, and then most likely used as street pavers across the old city. App collected and stockpiled them for years, looking ahead to using them as the paving stones on his patio. The charming pavilion he built at one end of the pool is constructed from architectural salvage pieced together like a three dimensional puzzle. The slate on the roof came from an old French Quarter stable. The rough ends of the exposed crossbeams are intentional. The timbers are old joists, sills, and girders. The original cuts where those joists would have joined, are now used as a decorative edge of the pergola. App calls it “The Casita,” and kept the furnishings minimal, using an antique bed with a vintage chandelier overhead. The landscaping is the vision of Marcela Singleton (email@example.com), formerly the lead gardener at Longue Vue Gardens. App wanted to tap into her vast knowledge of native plants that would work within the color palette he chose for the project. The transformed courtyard and pool (and the elegantly decaying masterpiece of the ballroom inside the house) are now available for intimate weddings.