Rescuing Mid-Century Modern

Lisa Tudor and Michael Sichel’s East Lakeshore home is a stylish labor of love.
photographed by Sara essex Bradley
Otomi fabric from Spruce Inspired Living was custom-stretched at Paul’s Framing to fit above the sideboard in the dining room. A Chilewich Basketweave + Khaki woven floor mat defines the living room space. The seating area includes (from left to right): chrome Warren Platner side table from Design Within Reach; Conran “Aspen” four-seat sofa; Paul McCobb marble|!!| birch and brass coffee table; lounge chairs re-upholstered in emerald vinyl from perch.; leather Moroccan pouf and tall walnut and alabaster Buenos Aires side table by Jonathan Adler. Bertoia chrome counter stools frame the prep counter.

We call it a “Mid-Modern rescue,” says Lisa Tudor of the 1958 East Lakeshore subdivision home she renovated with her husband, Michael Sichel. “It was decaying with holes in the roof,” she recalls. In fact, the house, which flooded following the levee breach after Hurricane Katrina, was gutted to the studs with severe termite damage when the couple decided to purchase it from the children of Sam and Emily Uglesich, well-known New Orleans restaurateurs, who built it is as their family home. Neither Tudor, an editor and stylist, who had previously owned and lived in two other mid-century modern houses in the same neighborhood, or Sichel, the Executive Chef at Galatoire’s Restaurant, had ever taken on such a major remodel. With the goal of completing the house and moving in within a year, they called some of their most talented friends for help: husband and wife team Debra Warner and John Wallace of Studio W for structural, storage and lighting design, Clayton Carriere and Pierre Stouse of Edifice Builders for construction, Brian Bockman and Jack Forbes of Bockman+Forbes for interior design, and Portland landscape designer Heidi Hayne for hardscape. “They are all my friends,” says Tudor. Sichel also worked closely with Jeff Amann of Amann & Associates, who designed and installed the green space.

The house was designed by architect Albert J. Saputo, a native of New Orleans, graduate of Tulane University and longtime member of the New Orleans City Planning Commission. Saputo’s firm, Saputo & Rowe, was a noted contributor to Regional Modernism in the mid-20th century and his original plans for the house were still in the Uglesich family’s possession. Tudor and Sichel used the plans to stay as close to the architect’s intent as possible.

The Paul McCobb marble, birch and brass dining set includes an extending table, parchment-front sideboard, serving cart and bookcase.  Designers Guild fabric was used to re-cover the dining room side chairs. 

A Knoll Saarinen white laminate pedestal table serves as Lisa’s desk in the former breakfast room, which overlooks a butterfly garden. Painting by Ricky Lemann. 

Jeff Amann added pavers to the path that leads from the gate to access the equipment pad housing the AC and pool pump.  Michael is hands-on, personally maintaining the perennial garden, jasmine covered Green Screens, tibouchina grandiflora hedges, native grass beds as well as the couple’s pool.

Landscape Architect Heidi Hayne Schrimsher’s concrete lap pool and paver design was executed by Master Builder Brett Oncale of ArchAngels Pools.  The Perfect Turf “Pet Grass” surrounding the deck area, installed by Landscape Architect Jeff Amann, keeps the area green and the pool clean year round. 

Replacing the roof and termite remediation topped the list of repairs. The couple restored the original hand-crank casement windows, jalousie door and gray and white marble chip terrazzo floors throughout. They kept the footprint the same, but they made structural alterations to fit their needs. The former three-bedroom house is now a two-bedroom home with an easy, open flow. The layout incorporates a master suite with its own private entry, additional closet space, and an open master bath, along with a bedroom and bath for guests. Tudor and Sichel removed the water-damaged Woodfold door separating the dining room from the living area, raised the kitchen ceiling and eliminated floor-to-ceiling walls to create total visual flow for entertaining. The kitchen design allows Sichel to face out from his prep area and engage with guests and provides an entertaining view of him shaking pans at the cook top. The kitchen features include a remote-control flush mount Cirrus Vent Hood with plenty of headroom, Huwilift-Senso up-lift cabinets, Pure White Ceasarstone quartz countertops, a Capital Precision Series Range and Liebherr refrigerator-freezer.

Facing page: The kitchen was designed by Randall Shaw at Nordic Kitchens & Baths; the Trikeenan Boneyard Brick from Stafford Tile is 95-percent recycled content. Original terrazzo floor restored by Bustamante Care; Howard Miller clock. Fixtures from LCR, The Plumbing Warehouse.

The living room’s Phillip-Jeffries sustainable natural textured wall covering in “Jackson Square” was installed by Gauthier Wallcovering Specialists. The Nelson console is Herman Miller circa 1957; tall Buenos Aires side table and pottery by Jonathan Adler; Baton Lamp from Design Within Reach. The tapestry by Native American artist Ramona Sakiestewa was a “downsizing” gift from Lisa’s parents when they moved to Houston from Santa Fe. Gia sits on the high-back armchair.

Lisa’s dressing room includes a Paul McCobb marble dressing table circa 1957; velvet jacquard upholstery on chair from perch.

The challenge for Bockman and Forbes was to create a floor plan and select contemporary finishes to complement and incorporate the collection of mid-century modern furnishings from Tudor’s former family home, a 4,300 square-foot Mid-Century Modern located two blocks down the street toward Lake Pontchartrain. Separate home office spaces for husband and wife were a priority, as well as completely private green space for the lap-pool and outdoor shower and a home for a butterfly garden.

Bockman and Forbes responded with a floor plan that uses nearly every piece of Tudor’s 1957 Paul McCobb and George Nelson for Herman Miller furniture collection purchased with her former home. The homeowners also opted to keep the fluorescent lighting housed above the suspended ceiling.  Replacing the original tongue-in-groove wooden ceiling proved cost prohibitive. But new treatments such as the front door’s retro “Crestview Doorlite Kit” vision inserts, and Philip Jeffries wallpapers help recreate the aesthetic of the iconic era.

Bockman + Forbes sourced the Florence Knoll desk for Michael’s office and the couple purchased the Curtis Jere ‘60s brass sculpture hanging over the Paul McCobb console on a recent trip to Nashville. Jonathan Adler vintage marble and brass table lamp from Shaun Smith Home; fiberglass rolling base desk chair from Modernica.

The master bath combines a Nelson Cigar pendant lamp from Modernica; Robern mirrored cabinets and bath fixtures from LCR, The Plumbing Warehouse; parquet bamboo tile and Afyon Sugar Marble Mosaic from Stafford Tile.  Master suite cabinets by Bryan Bowers Cabinets; Rocky Mountain Hardware bronze cabinet knobs.

Custom sheers in Saxon by Stacy Garcia, fabricated for Bockman + Forbes by Mary Tait, provide translucent coverage over the sliding glass doors. Grasshopper Floor Lamp from Design Within Reach; Designers Guild basket weave upholstery on armchair and ottoman.

The guest bedroom’s Cole and Son “Palm Jungle” wall covering is from Spruce; monogram blanket cover from Leontine Linens. Foucheaux’s Upholstery covered the George Nelson for Herman Miller twin headboards and fabricated a tailored bed skirt in Designers Guild “Shima” fabric in sand.  Shima is also used on the bench.  Pillow is by John Derian.

Sustainable finishes include Versacork cork tiles and Bamboo parquet flooring in the baths, Phillip Jeffries Ltd. natural wall covering in the living spaces, and Trikeenan Boneyard Brick in the Kitchen (made with 95-percent recycled content). Eco-friendly Perfect Turf “Pet Grass” (synthetic turf) surrounds the lap pool. The home also includes state of the art insulation and solar panels that have reduced energy costs by half.

“I’ve always loved Mid-Century Modern houses,” says Tudor, who first developed an affinity for the style during childhood visits to the Mid-Century Modern home of family friends in her native Alexandria. Sichel also feels perfectly at home in the house he and his wife rejuvenated with help from friends. As a restaurateur, he relates to its past, and as a homeowner who prefers an uncluttered environment, he appreciates its clean aesthetic. “Everything has lines,” he says. “It suits my personality.”



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