Renovation of the Year
A Classic 1890s shotgun is transformed into a two-story family home where past and present meet contemporary elegance
Elizabeth and Adam Keckler wasted no time deciding to buy their Uptown cottage. The couple — she hails from Jackson, Mississippi, he from the Dallas area — met at Rhodes College, fell in love, chose New Orleans as a place to build a life together and soon found the perfect house where they could put down roots.
“My mother and I were driving and we turned down the street and saw the for sale sign in the driveway of the house,” says Elizabeth. “We made an appointment to see it and fell in love with it.”
It was seven years, however, before the Kecklers decided to renovate the traditional Victorian shotgun and transform it into a family home. Elizabeth, who knew that such an undertaking would require the couple to move out of the house, looked at other real estate listings to make sure that renovating was the way to go, but none of the properties seemed as appealing as the one the couple already owned. In mid-2016, they moved to the French Quarter and began a year-long renovation.
“My husband was all for it,” says Elizabeth. “We said ‘if we’re going to do this, let’s do it right.’”
As luck would have it, Adam, a Project Manager at EDG, and Elizabeth, who worked in the field of non-profits, were connected to talented people in the fields of architecture, construction and interior design. Elizabeth’s family is the force behind Splinter Creek, a contemporary development near Oxford, Mississippi, which is focused on simple, green design that leaves a minimal impact on the rural environment surrounding it, and Elizabeth has collaborated with her mother and sister on multiple design projects. The couple worked with Mississippi architect John Weaver to design the house and then turned to another family friend, Will Erickson of Yazoo Restorations, a local company named after Erickson’s hometown of Yazoo, Mississippi. To furnish the space, Elizabeth once again worked with her mother and sister, with whom she traveled to Paris, New Orleans, New York and Jackson in search of everything from furniture to lanterns.
The Kecklers wanted the interior to be light and airy and to combine modern style with a clear respect for the history and architecture of their house. The new design left the original house as is with its period character and details intact and turned what had been a side porch into a glassed-in hall that marries the old house with the new addition.
“The windows are what pulled all this together,” says Elizabeth of the sun-lit space. “When we finally got the windows in, I knew it was going to be perfect.”
Today, the house, which occupied a double lot with plenty of room to grow, is an L-shaped two-story structure with three bedrooms and three baths. The original portion of the house includes one bedroom. The new portion includes the master suite and a third bedroom, which Weaver drew as a nursery next to the master. The couple is expecting their first child this month (March 2018) and the house lives just as they hoped it would — comfortable fresh and modern. Its striking beauty comes from the interplay of purposeful simplicity and artful contrast. A stream-lined dining table is juxtaposed with an elegant 19th-century chandelier, sleek sophisticated fixtures are highlighted against stripped down, organic wooden surfaces, whites and neutrals are balanced with darker wooden floors and French doors and dramatized with pops of color from carefully selected art.
“I’m a minimalist,” says Elizabeth. “The pieces speak for themselves. There are not a lot of distractions. Each piece was a very deliberate decision.”
Most of the time, Elizabeth worked a room around a favorite piece. In the kitchen she began with an antique purchased on Magazine Street as the center island. In the dining room, she made the chandelier the focal point, by keeping the furnishings clean and minimal. In the master bedroom, she found inspiration in weathered shutters lightened with a white-washed finish.
Though she designed the décor to blend from room to room, she also made an effort to alternate light, bright rooms with darker, cozier ones such as the library and the dining room. Some bring the outdoors in, others provide a feeling of privacy and seclusion.
As a homeowner, Elizabeth is happy with both her collaborators and her design choices.
“Everything came together brilliantly,” she says. “I think we got it right.”
As a soon-to-be-mother, however, she reserves judgment on whether the house might eventually need some additional tweaking.
“When you’re introducing a family, your needs become different,” she says. “We’ll mold this house to fit our growing needs.”