Husband and wife real estate developers Kendall Winingder and Patrick Schindler were no strangers to the built environment when they decided to design their dream home. As business partners, they’ve completed a dozen projects, including a previous home for themselves and their two young children. What was exciting about their new home was the group of innovative professionals that helped bring the house to fruition. The couple’s years of experience enabled them to pool a team of top architects, designers, contractors, landscapers and artisans.
“I put everyone to the test with these crazy ideas,” says Winingder. “They are the creative geniuses who made it happen.”
When Winingder and Schindler purchased the corner lot, located across the street from the former’s childhood home, they planned to renovate a cottage on the property. Ultimately, they tore down the house, which wasn’t deemed historically significant, and built toward their goals. Inspired by their own renovation ideas and by a modern house they visited in California, initial drawings called for a split-level floor plan, a living area with double height windows overlooking a pool and courtyard and specific materials, such as Kolumba brick.
To bring the house to life, the couple turned to architects Megan Bell and Wayne Troyer of studio WTA. Architect and interior designer John Chrestia of Chrestia Staub Pierce helped with interiors, finishes and colors, Pierre Stousse of Edifice Builders signed on as contractor and Aaron Adolph of Aaron Adolph Landscaping designed the green spaces.
“Kendall had a very strong vision of how she wanted to create her house,” says Troyer. “We took those ideas and developed them and defined them and made them all work.”
At just under 5,000 square feet, the U-shaped house includes four bedrooms, five and a half baths, a kitchen, dining and living rooms, indoor and outdoor areas for children, a courtyard, a pool, a pool house and a garage. The centerpiece is a sunken living room with 26-foot ceilings, a breezeway and a wall of glass that floods the house with natural light.
While the design — part 1970s Malibu beach house, part TriBeCa loft — reads as simple and lean, countless details and considerations belie the effect. The homeowners love the lack of ornamentation that is synonymous with modernism, but knew that the more streamlined a house, the harder it is to hide imperfections.
“With this type of modern house, everything has to be perfectly aligned,” says Winingder.
Heated floors, butt-glazed windows, sleek casement openings containing hidden sliding doors, a floating wall-mounted staircase and a roof deck were among the things that had to be finessed from paper to reality.
“We would joke that I needed to move my office on-site,” says Bell (now at Bell Design and Architecture). “Sometimes you couldn’t decide something until you were in the field looking at it. Everyone was passionate about getting it right.”
When Winingder was told that mitering the corners of the pool house’s epay exterior was impossible, she pressed forward and prevailed. The “creative dreamer” to her husband’s pragmatist and “mastermind of follow-through and efficiency,” she also held to the idea of heating coils beneath the living room’s stone floor and to the installation of a roof deck when others resisted.
“The roof deck wasn’t a necessity but it makes living here that much better,” says Schindler. “It’s a hidden amenity.”
A talented designer in her own right, Winingder sketched the kids’ built-in play area, collaborated with metal artist David Borgerding to create a striking bird-like chandelier and joined forces with carpenter Daniel Bell to design furnishings.
From the outset, the couple recognized the need to be sensitive to the character of the neighborhood, where 100-year old houses are the norm. They met with neighbors and worked to allay concerns about building a modernist house in an historic area. Though it may not be obvious to the untrained eye, the house reinterprets elements of traditional New Orleans architecture (such as a double gallery) in a contemporary way.
Making the house kid-friendly was equally essential. The architects reduced the original size of the pool house to provide more outdoor space for the kids. They also raised the height of the railing surrounding the indoor breezeway for safety. One of the kids’ favorite features is the electric pull-down ladder that accesses the roof deck where family and friends gather for parties, sunsets and even breakfast.
Winingder and Schindler drew on their loves of design, art and travel to finish and furnish the house.
“It’s an amazingly custom house and the finishes really drove the boat with that,” says Chrestia. “Kendall and Patrick had very good taste. They went for first class-materials throughout.”
Tribal motifs, statement lighting, organic shapes, rough-hewn woods, iconic modernist staples and bespoke pieces are blended throughout. Yet, they clearly see the home as a collaborative effort.
“One of the things I appreciate most was the team and how well we all worked together and how much we all respect each other,” says Winingder, who admits to being excited every time she turns the corner and catches sight of her home.
“I’m happy and fortunate and blessed to be in a space that is so welcoming and feels so good,” adds Schindler. “The natural light, the tones and space planning have an impact on how you think and live.”