New Construction of the Year Back to the Future
Vicki Adjmi and Lisa Colon’s state-of-the-art home in Lakeshore is inspired by context, history and innovation.
In the 1950s and ’60s, the large crop of modern houses built in the Lakeshore neighborhood of New Orleans looked like they took some cues from the “House of the Future” Walt Disney featured as an attraction in Disneyland from 1957-1967. The “House of the Future” featured cutting-edge building materials, including plastics and solid surfaces. It introduced space-age microwave ovens, as well as flat televisions mounted on walls. This was heady stuff back then, and most of the “future” that we marveled at then has come to fruition now. Most of these Lakeshore futuristic homes still survive intact today and are much beloved by a new generation smitten with Mid-Century Modern design.
Architect Morris Adjmi grew up in Lakeshore, and when his sister, Vicki Adjmi, purchased a large corner lot, she asked him to design a new house for her and her partner, Lisa Colon, and their daughter. He was thrilled.
Adjmi, a licensed architect in four states and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, operates a New York-based architecture firm, Morris Adjmi Architects. He received his Master of Architecture degree from Tulane University and attended the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, where he met iconic Italian architect and designer Aldo Rossi. He also sits on the Board of the Tulane School of Architecture and the Board of Directors for Open House New York. He is known for architecture and interior spaces that are contemporary in form, innovative in materials and technology and inspired by context and history.
While Adjmi respected the unique Mid-Century Modern architectural vernacular of his old Lakeshore neighborhood, he did not want to create a nostalgic replica. Being a native to the area, he deeply understood and considered the climate and environment when choosing materials. The modern cantilevered design of the house features a deep overhang on the south elevation of the house to provide shade for the lower level. Centuries-old homes in New Orleans use high ceilings as climate control, so Morris also wisely incorporated this classic feature in his contemporary design.
The first floor features a loft-like floor plan.
Vintage Italian Bitossi urn; “Be Nice or Leave” pillow from The Shops at 2011; large wooden beads from AKA Stella Gray.
Architect Morris Adjmi designed the cantilevered house that features a cypress wood exterior on the second floor
A retractable glass window wall provides a spectacular connection between the open, loft-like living spaces inside and the outdoor terrace and pool.
He respected the original footprint of the lot. The site of the house is set deep on the lot to provide a generous front and side lawn space in keeping with the look of the large lots found in the neighborhood. He used the most up-to-date environmentally sound and friendly building materials. He installed solar-powered systems on the roof to heat hot water for the pool and house.
The exterior is clean, bright white stucco on the bottom of the two-story house, with warm mellow cypress wood cladding on the second floor. Just as in the Mid-Century Modern homes in the area, terrazzo tile floors, with 24-by-24-inch terrazo tiles, are used inside on the first floor. The same tiles extend to the outdoor areas front and back. The tiles on the front “porch” and on the outdoor terrace in the back are etched entirely throughout providing a non-slip surface, especially important for safety around the pool area.
Morris Adjmi had the lot raised three feet to comply with post-Katrina standards. The large windows and glass doors are made of certified hurricane-resistant glass made in Germany by Unilux. The exterior also features a handsome outdoor louver-blind system on the second-floor windows. Much like traditional shutters, these modern shutters regulate the light and heat but will automatically close themselves in the event of high winds.
The 4,000-square foot home has a formal front entrance as a nod to the homes already in the neighborhood. The side entrance of the home, which passes through the pool area and outdoor terrace adjacent to the garage, is the main entrance the family uses. Above the garage is an outdoor deck that’s accessible from the master bedroom. A full-height retractable glass window wall provides a spectacular connection between the open loft-like living spaces inside and the outdoor terrace. A privacy fence along the outdoor terrace and pool features horizontal steel bars that echo the home’s lines without distracting from the clean, geometric lines of the exterior.
The master bedroom features a projection system for television viewing. The bed was designed by Valorie Hart and custom-made by Leonel’s Fine Upholstery and Furniture. Vintage chairs are upholstered in Kravat fabric. Painting is by Anastasia Pelias.
The guest bedroom with a custom headboard is upholstered in hair-on-hide; wallpaper is from The Sandpiper Collection; vintage Jielde lamps are from eBay; Missoni bedding; woven benches are vintage.
The nightstand is from Bungalow 5; lamp is from Eclectic Home; fine art photographis by Lisa Conrad.
Charlie’s bedroom features a Reeves Design four-poster bed with canopy and dust ruffle designed by Valorie Hart; nightstands are Bungalow 5; lamps are vintage; bedding is Trina Turk; walls are upholstered in Kumari Garden fabric.
When one enters the house through the formal front-door entrance, a long narrow hall visually explodes into the public area of the home, a large open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room. Also off the front hall are two bedrooms on opposite sides, one used a guest room and the other one used as playroom. There is a full bathroom off this hall, too – conveniently accessible to the pool. A neat little area is tucked under the stairs for the two family dogs (the family calls it the “dog condo”). A dramatic double-height stairwell has two sets of stairs, connected by a landing with a tall large window, leading to the private rooms upstairs.
Upstairs is a master suite (with a private outdoor deck), a laundry room, a home office, a guest room and bathroom, and another suite of rooms, with a bedroom and lounge connected by an interior hall and a Jack-and Jill-style bathroom. The upstairs hall is designed as a gallery space for an art collection. Red oak plank floors are used throughout, except for white tile floors in the bathrooms. The bathrooms on both floors feature Hans Grohe and Axor Citterio M fixtures.
Morris Adjmi says, “Modern houses look simple but are tricky.” He took a year to design this house. Always a perfectionist, he chose just the right local products and European finishes.
Vicki and Lisa experienced this attention to detail over the year-and-a-half it took to complete the house, and they all feel it is well worth it.