When local homeowners purchased a vacant lot in the Garden District, they were excited to build a new home that would fit their family’s needs, while also blending seamlessly with the historic neighborhood. “We like to entertain friends and larger groups, and we do a fair amount of charitable work,” the homeowner says. “We also have a son still at home, so the home needed to fit all of these needs. And, we asked for the home to fit into the neighborhood without being contrived. We think this was well achieved by the team.”

The team, which consisted of Trapolin-Peer Architects; interior design by Chrestia, Staub + Board; and landscape design by Fransen Mills, first came about when the homeowner chose the interior design firm. “I’ve been a fan of Chrestia, Staub + Board’s designs for many years, long before even considering moving to New Orleans, so that was the easiest decision of all the ones I had to make for this project,” the homeowner says.

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Trapolin-Peer Architects then became involved when John Chrestia asked the firm to help design the house. Finally, Fransen Mills came on board to ensure that the home and gardens blended seamlessly and complemented each other.

In order to achieve the homeowners’ goals, Trapolin-Peer Architects designed the exterior of the house, plus the garage and cabana buildings. “It’s rare to be able to build new in the Garden District, but the house that had formerly occupied this site had burned down several years before our client acquired the property,” says Peter M. Trapolin, president of Trapolin-Peer Architects. “The owners wanted a house that looked historic and felt as if it had been built years ago as part of the Garden District. I believe we accomplished those goals.”

The collaboration between Trapolin-Peer Architects and Chrestia, Staub + Board included the development of two schemes for the floor plan and exterior concepts. The owner chose the floor plan concept by Chrestia, Staub + Board and exterior concept by Trapolin-Peer Architects. The home features two axis hallways that cross the house, and the exterior features covered porches, columns, dormers, and custom-milled windows and doors.

Exterior materials include Hardie Artisan lap siding, a slate roof, and flagstone and marble. “The design is mindful of the surrounding architectural language, and, like many of its historic neighbors, its design draws upon classical principles and details that elicit an aesthetic of stately tradition,” Trapolin says.

The first floor of the nearly 11,000-square-foot home consists of a generously sized living and dining room, a primary kitchen and separate catering kitchen, a library and a wine cellar that holds 2,000 bottles. It opens to the exterior gardens in several places, allowing easy flow for entertaining. Meanwhile, the second floor consists of four bedrooms, five and one-half bathrooms and a media room. The third floor features a bonus room with a craft area and model train. The home also features a fitness room and a climate-controlled outdoor kitchen and living cabana. There also is ample garden and lawn space, plus a pool and a basketball court. 

The homeowners, who moved from Houston, already had existing furniture and art that worked well in the home. Chrestia, Staub + Board selected new furnishings and art to complement the existing pieces, plus interior finishes such as wood floors, marble and tile, wall coverings and cabinetry. The interior design firm also customized several elements throughout the home, including millwork in the library and media room, draperies, marble patterns for the north/south axis hallway and bathrooms, a groin vault ceiling at the intersection of the north/south and east/west axis hallways and a coffered ceiling in the family room. The home also features five fireplaces with cast stone and/or custom wood mantles.

Meanwhile, local artist Ann Marie Auricchio painted a custom mural on silk wallpaper in the dining room. It features trees in silhouette in shades of muted blue and gray to complement a piece of contemporary art. Other custom touches include two contemporary Murano glass chandeliers from Italy that hang over the dining table, and an insulated steel and glass entry door for the wine room. 

The interior reflects the homeowners’ love for color in shades of blue, tan and gold as a backdrop for their existing furnishings and artwork. “I’d say the interior is very transitional,” the homeowner says. “I’m all about subtle color and comfortable fabrics everywhere, including traditionally formal rooms. I like to use every room and want a sense of immediate welcome to those who come here. Here, blue takes a primary role with lighter walls and darker floors. It fits easily and works for the dinner-party crowd or the football team.”

A focal point of the home is a grand staircase designed by Trapolin-Peer Architects. “The main stair in a residence is usually visually prominent and an important design feature,” Trapolin says. “This stair is an elegant, curved, free-standing stair off the main entrance hall.”

There is access to the side yard under the stair landing, and a large rectangular bay window floods the stair hall with daylight. “We always wanted a feature staircase,” the homeowner says. “The Historic District Landmarks Commission had several requirements because it is street-facing. It needed to look like it could have been an entrance to the home, but, for us, it wasn’t. And we wanted lots of windows, especially there looking at the lawn and gardens. Peter brought all of this together with an entire wall of windows, a classic floating staircase that doesn’t interrupt the windows and a porch that terminates into the lawn.” 

Overall, the home is well proportioned and detailed. “In this case, the owners wanted a very traditional design that would fit in well with the architecture of the Garden District,” Trapolin says. “I believe it’s very successful in that regard.”