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Open, airy and light River Ridge reno
Marian and Larry Gibbs know the fine points of renovation. Larry owns Gibbs construction, a 42-year-old commercial construction business now run by his daughter and son-in-law. He also built the family’s River Ridge house, and together, as their family grew and changed, the Gibbses have renovated their house seven times. (A previous incarnation was featured in the July 1999 issue of New Orleans magazine.)
With only one of their combined eight children still at home, the couple embarked on the last renovation with the aim of updating the first floor of the residence (the second floor, which includes six bedrooms and an exercise room has already been refreshed) and solving a few problem areas.
Marian Gibbs with her prize winning oak leaf hydrangeas.
“We looked into moving or downsizing with a condo but we liked the location,” Marian said. “So, we decided to stay where we were. Living in one place for so many years was like putting down roots.”
In addition to being convenient to Larry’s office, the Gibbses’ house is in close proximity to two of their daughters and their daughter’s families. Once they’d made the decision to stay, they called in architect Ken Gowland of Metro Studio, who’d worked on projects with Gibbs Construction.
The sitting room next to the kitchen is done in neutral grays and flesh tones; swivel chairs from Villa Vici, coffee table from Horchow, leather pouf from Pied Nu, small table from Monochrome.
They also hired All Star Homes (rather than calling in one of Gibbs’s crews, which specialize in commercial properties) and interior designer Lauren Bombet of Lauren Bombet Interiors.
The overall idea was to open and renew the first floor. The Gibbses also wanted to eliminate areas to which they referred as the “the bottleneck” – a portion of the downstairs hall where guests tended to congregate rather than entering the living room – and “the dead zone” an under-utilized dining room.
The Gibbses’ house is located on an acre-and-a-half lot in River Ridge.
“My husband used to say, “we have the most beautiful dining room that no one’s ever eaten in,” Marian said.
Gowland’s design called for gutting the first floor, knocking out walls and reconfiguring the space without adding to the existing footprint. The kitchen, renovated just three years earlier, was carefully disassembled and reused in what it is now a second, galley-shaped kitchen or pantry, carved out of what was the dining area, powder room and laundry room. A new kitchen now flows into the living area so that the spaces function well for day-to-day living as well as gathering and entertaining. A new dining area is also part of the wide-open downstairs.
The new kitchen, which overlooks the living room, has a massive quartz topped island. Bar-height chairs from Monochrome; custom cabinetry by Nordic Kitchens and Baths. Glass and brass pendant light fixtures from Arteriors.
“We told the architect what we wanted and he was easy to talk to, understood what we were looking for and was able to put it on paper,” Marian said of the alliance.
In Bombet, Marian found another simpatico team member, who likewise understood the couples’ desire for a lighter, brighter interior and also nudged them to try things they hadn’t considered.
The living room ceiling was raised during a previous renovation to add even more volume to the existing double height space; the sofas and chairs are from Villa Vici, accent table and pillows, from Jade; the paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray; abstract paintings on either side of the fireplace by Joyce Howell; rug from NOLA Rugs; large vase left of fireplace, Katie Koch Home; interior plants, Luna Botanicals.
“She took me out of my comfort zone,” she said, who also confessed that she “wound up loving” Bombet’s suggestions. Case in point: the powder room’s graphic black and white marble mosaic floor, which the couple initially nixed as an unnecessary expense. It eventually won out as one of the standout features that makes the room.
At the same time, Bombet focused on making the house as family friendly as it is refined.
The media room is furnished with contemporary furniture and art from Ann Connelly Fine Art; sofas from Monochrome, abstract painting by Carlos Ramirez; octagonal and round tables, both from Jade, pillows and accessories Katie Koch Home, small vase from Sunday Shop.
“When I first met with Marian to talk about aesthetic direction, it was important to her to have an elegant, pristine space that was also easy to maintain,” Bombet said. “The kids and grandkids are over all the time, so that balance is what I ran with. I tried to incorporate warm, rich finishes that are easy to care for.”
Bombet and Marian furnished the remodeled downstairs with new, more contemporary pieces (many of them custom) and kept the previously draped windows in the public spaces uncovered. The house now has more natural light and the outside views can be enjoyed from inside.
A chair and ottoman by Minotti in the media room; table from Jade.
For the final touches, Bombet and the Gibbses worked with Ann Connelly of Ann Connelly Fine Art in Baton Rouge on the selection and placement of art, which includes a variety of contemporary works.
Outside, the Gibbses re-decked and changed the shape of the existing pool and had the property re-landscaped by Terry Ibert of The Ibert Group, a move which enhanced both the home’s exterior and interior spaces. An outdoor kitchen is being added as well.
The Gibbses’ re-decked the pool area, changed the shape of the pool and re-landscaped as part of their most recent renovation; landscaping by Terry Ibert; installation and maintenance of landscaping by Steve Benton.
“I loved my house before and had a little trouble letting go,” Marian said. “But now I love this house as much if not more.”