Outside In

Heather Burglass doesn’t consider herself a gardener, but she is an avid lover of gardens all the same. Not only did she and her husband, Bruce, recently host the patron Outside Inparty for the Longue Vue Symposium at their home in Metairie Club Gardens, but they also designed their whole house so that each room would have a great view of the outside gardens and courtyard.

“We love to be outside,” she says. “We wanted to have an easy flow between the inside and the outside.”

George Hopkins of The Hopkins Co., who served as the architect on the project, agrees that this blending of indoors and outdoors was a crucial part of the home’s design. “The first thing Mrs. Burglass told us is that she did not want a box,” he says. “Some of the new homes she’d seen were large rectangles without much relief or personality. She wanted her home to have a more interesting exterior design, most particularly not a lot of flat surfaces. From a conceptual standpoint, this became a fundamental element of the design. And we confected a plan that is basically L-shaped that creates a courtyard in the backyard and allows interior rooms to view the courtyard from two sides.”

Outside InOnce the house was complete, the Burglasses turned the courtyard over to landscape architect Peter Raarup.  “We didn’t want anything formal, just curvy lines to help soften up the squareness of the house,” Heather says. “We wanted a nice comfortable place to sit and enjoy being outside, and we really just let Peter take charge. He’s designed landscaping for us at our old house and at my husband’s office, so we trust him and know he’s very good at designing. We gave him our seal of approval when he was done.”

Raarup describes the garden as Robinsonian in style. “The name comes from the Arts and Crafts-era landscape architect William Robinson,” he says. “He advocated strong architectural elements with naturalized plantings, including a variety of shrubs and perennials. My favorite part of the planting design is the winding gravel walkway through the mature sasanquas leading to the pool area.”

In addition to bringing the outside in, the Burglasses aimed to create an inviting space for their teenage daughters, Caroline and Emily, to spend time with their friends. “We really have two family rooms and no formal living room so that we can accommodate their friends,” Heather says. “They also both have large bedrooms so they can have friends over.”

Outside InHopkins says that the L-shaped floor plan, in addition to offering multiple views of the courtyard, provides maximum privacy for the occupants, which is of course a key factor for any teenager.

The home may have ample privacy, but no matter how well-appointed the girls’ bedroom suites are, Heather and Bruce refuse to budge on one point –– televisions. If the girls had televisions in their rooms, Heather says, they would never leave. Instead, the television is centrally located so that TV time is also family time. In fact, Heather says the den is her favorite room because it’s where they spend the most time together.

The kitchen, also a high-traffic area and family gathering place, is another room Heather enjoys, even if she doesn’t particularly like to cook. The kitchen island, where the family gathers for meals, was designed and redesigned about half a dozen times, Hopkins says, to achieve a seating area for the whole family. And when they entertain, Heather says the island is a place where everyone congregates.

Outside InEach room in the home, from the bright colors of the girls’ rooms to the tranquil tones of the master bedroom and bathroom, was a careful collaboration –– or really, a series of collaborations. The Burglasses had to work together as a family to decide what they wanted and then convey those desires to Hopkins. After that, they enlisted the help of interior designer Heidi Friedler. This process normally has a fair amount of disagreements and negotiations, but it went smoothly for the Burglasses.

“Bruce and Heather are a couple who work together unusually well, and they
did their homework,” Hopkins says. “They provided us with notes and pictures of special design elements that they would like in their home. Our job is like a jigsaw puzzle –– like putting together a great big jigsaw puzzle –– with scores of parts that have to be Outside Incarefully managed to fit together properly. In this case, we met every couple of weeks and went over numerous iterations of the plan until we got it exactly right.”

Friedler was involved in the project at an early stage, and both Hopkins and the Burglasses say she was a huge influence over the end result.

“She helped us with spaces, window seats, organization, colors, fabrics, everything,” Heather says.

“She took it to another level of refinement that includes craftsman details in the woodwork, ebony flooring and cabinetry designs,” Hopkins adds. “Our firm believes that the best total designs for a home are achieved through collaboration. This is because the colors and finishes and furnishings enhance the architecture of the house and bring it to another level of sophistication. The Burglass house is an excellent example of this type of collaboration.”

Heather loves her home but hesitates to call it “sophisticated,” exactly. “I think it’s comfortable and timeless with an updated color palette,” she says. “And it’s still a work in progress. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly finished.” 

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