Of the First Water









A Touch of Blue

Of the First Water

When a total home renovation allowed interior designer Grace Kaynor to design her dream kitchen, she chose the style of old New Orleans restaurants, with a signature patterned tile floor.

The splash of blue color on the tile floor stands out in the Uptown home as an homage to an iconic restaurant.

“It constantly reminds me of the fond memories of sharing meals at Casamento’s with my sister, parents and grandparents,” Kaynor says.

 The kitchen underwent a complete renovation, and the family combined the old kitchen’s space with another smaller room to add a bar as well as a separate pantry and laundry room.

The tile floor, the standout feature, was designed in great detail. The floor tiles were all hand-dyed, and Kaynor worked on the customized color scheme, paying special attention to seamlessly blending the gray and white patterns.

To tie in the floor, she added Carrara marble countertops and light fixtures resembling old New Orleans streetlamps, the perfect complement to evoke the style of the famed New Orleans restaurant.

Other unique features include the bar backsplash, in etched mirrored tile from Stafford Tile & Stone, and a French 19th-century block island that was originally in her husband’s family farmhouse in Connecticut.

“It is a great space to cook, and I like the generous amount of work space,” she says. In keeping with typical New Orleans tradition, she adds, “My family spends more time in this room than in any other.”

A Viking stove, a Frigidaire refrigerator and separate freezer and a GE Profile oven all line the walls of this chef’s kitchen. A white table and island paired with modern chrome chairs add a playful contrast to the room’s elegant tile.

“I like that the eclectic elements all work together,” Kaynor says. “I’m happy and excited to cook in this wonderful room and be with my family.”

Inside and Out

Of the First Water

The vision behind the renovation of Pia Ehrhardt’s City Park home was to feature the natural beauty of the outdoor landscape – the handsome tree-lined street and the lush, landscaped backyard.

For the kitchen, the vision was achieved by converting the rear screened-in porch into a breakfast room. A separate bar area was added adjacent to the dining room and was configured to take in prime views of the backyard.

Natural elements, including bamboo plywood, were used in the kitchen for a seamless transition from outside to inside. The studioWTA-customized wood was fabricated by Hal Collums Construction.

“It allows the greenery of the backyard and street-scape to be a highlight, underscoring the strong connection to the exterior,” says Toni DiMaggio of studioWTA.

The space is both comfortable and functional. The fixtures and appliances were modernized and laid out to be more conducive for cooking. They included a Sub-Zero refrigerator, freezer, ice-maker and beverage cooler; a Wolf range and oven; and a large kitchen island.

“Our kitchen is the heart and soul of the house, and the ease of using the Wolf range and griddle has expanded our cooking repertoire,” Ehrhardt says. “Fixing dinner for each other is an adventure, and we’re quick to entertain at home.”

Ehrhardt still marvels at the transformation of her home from a cramped boarding house to a bright, light-filled portal to the outside.

“Every morning we wake up and walk around, make coffee, get dressed, and we’re re-introduced to these thoughtful, lovely rooms,” she says.


Of the First Water

Sisters and New Orleans mask-makers Ann and Laura Guccione renovated their split-unit Marigny home to include a bright, open kitchen fit for entertaining.

The front unit of the 1830s Creole cottage had been used as everything from a boarding house to a recording studio. It’s rumored that Bob Dylan once lived there.

By removing the bathroom in the front unit, the sisters, working with designer Dean Kageler of Axis Construction, not only increased the space but also discovered a window that, when exposed, brought an abundance of natural sunlight into the room.

Their overall vision was to create an inviting atmosphere that stayed true to the style of the house. Kageler helped convert their ideas into a gleaming reality.

One of the most noticeable features of the new kitchen is the ceramic floor tiles, which were found at Home Depot; the style is appropriately named French Quarter.

The handcrafted cabinets, made by Kageler, achieve maximum use of the space and were milled to reach all the way to the top of the tall ceilings. A horizontal line of display cabinets was added to the very top of the wall. 

“They have eye-appeal and provide a huge amount of storage for our extensive collection of kitchen and entertaining supplies,” Ann says.
As the former owners of the mask shop Little Shop of Fantasy in the French Quarter, the sisters provided a fascinating collection of renderings and sculptures that lines the counters and display cabinets.

A collection of tchotchkes fills the display shelves above the sink, allowing the sisters to add their unique sense of style to the room. Walnut cabinets and a wood island complete the comfortable and welcoming environment.

“We wanted something that blended in with the style and architecture of the house,” Ann says. “We also wanted something bright and inviting.” They achieved both.

A Team Effort

Of the First Water

The addition of a small alcove made a big difference in the look and feel of the master suite in the Uptown home of Jan Katz and Jim Derbes.
It was just one of several smart design moves the husband-and-wife renovation team employed in transforming what was a cramped space into a roomy, light-filled oasis.

In 2010, the couple decided to renovate a large portion of their Robert Street home, which was designed by architect Emile Well, after it sustained damage from a fire next door. The home, originally constructed in 1905, had experienced no major renovations in more than a century.

Katz and Derbes did all the work themselves using experts at Stafford Tile & Stone for the vanity anchor piece and Helm Paint for the color palette.

Meticulous attention was given to the bathroom from top to bottom, and Katz and Derbes were surprised that the addition of the small alcove made the floor space appear twice as big.

They replaced the original bathroom door with two half-doors, milled to resemble the original, which also added a sense of more space.

Recessed lighting and clear glass shelving above the vanity maximize the space even further, while natural light plays off the soothing color palette to achieve a comfortable, peaceful atmosphere.

Katz, who owns Studio 137, a craft and vintage print shop in Woodville, Miss., selected fixtures and decorations that add her particular taste to the
new space.

The home’s original porcelain tub was kept, re-plumbed and revitalized with a contemporary trim. Seashells and rocks collected from trips around the country line the shelves of the vanity.

The intricate gold chandelier with flower embellishments also adds charm. It comes from the home of Katz’s late mother-in-law.

Thrilled with how they breathed new life into the space, Katz describes the room as calming and serene.

“I look at it sometimes and think it just can’t be real – it’s so beautiful,” Katz said. “It makes me feel happy.”

Room with a View

Of the First Water

Pia Ehrhardt’s home near City Park used to be a boarding house for jockeys from the Fair Grounds and consisted of an assortment of bedrooms and shared bathrooms.

As part of a total home renovation, Ehrhardt, a writer, teacher and co-owner of the Ehrhardt Group, worked with Wayne Troyer Architects and Toni DiMaggio at studioWTA on the renovation. Together, they carefully selected which walls to remove in order to give the home full sight lines of the park from north to south.

“Wayne opened our house up to the verdant beauty of City Park,” Ehrhardt says.

One of its original bathrooms was an awkwardly shaped room at the front of the house. In its original state, it didn’t take advantage of the lush green views of the park or the brilliant natural light that poured through the windows.

It was moved entirely to an adjacent room and designed to put the city’s natural beauty on display.

The new bright open space includes two large windows where sunlight comes in and still complements the historic fabric of the house. By keeping the windows understated, they act as framed wall paintings displaying the natural landscape of the city.

Lightweight materials and colors for the floors and shower help complete the relaxed, effortless look, along with soft Cambria quartz that was used for the window sills and trim.

Above the free-standing bathtub hangs a stunning white Artecnica Icarus light fixture, a design that has cascading layers meant to resemble a bird’s wing.

The peaceful and relaxed atmosphere – and the perfectly consistent feel from outside to inside – is what Ehrhardt says she enjoys the most about the space.

“It’s modern, elegant, bright, uncluttered,” she says. “It’s feminine without being girly. I love every minute I spend in there.”

Small World

Of the First Water

A stained-glass window, almost the length of the entire wall, makes a dominating first impression in the bathroom of Bessie Derby’s corporate rental, an 1870 Garden District home.
It also reveals a special connection between past generations.

In unique New Orleans fashion – the quintessential big/small town –Bessie and her mother’s home grew from a typical renovation job to a spiritual connection among generations.

Giuseppi Pieri, whom Bessie had asked for a bid for the renovation, recognized her surname and asked Bessie if Roger Derby was her father. When she answered yes, he told her the story of how Mr. Derby gave him his first tile job 60 years ago when he came to America as an Italian refugee from World War II.

“I was in no less than mystical wonderment,” Bessie says.

Pieri began work on the house, adding luxurious Italian marble flooring to the bathroom.

The designer used creative ways to keep his work affordable, as he insisted on staying within the Derbys’ budget.

The tile was bought on discount from Jefferson Tile; the unfinished cabinets came from the Paneling Factory and were embellished with a decorative finish.

Pieri’s design called for the bathtub to be the focal point. That lent itself to the installation of the stained glass, which Bessie found at The Bank.
Carpenter Bill Holliday milled the casing for the frame, adding a slight curve in order to enhance the window’s design. Helm Paint helped choose the complementary wall colors to make the bathtub and window stand out.

Bessie says she’s pleased with the outcome but the best part of the bathroom is the special meaning behind it. It’s a piece of history coming full circle in a wondrous city where bewilderment can be found behind every door.

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