Two Become One
Vincent Saia and Glynn Stephens enjoy a dream come true
In a picturesque setting overlooking Audubon Park, Vincent Saia and Glynn Stephens enjoy an amazing compound of two homes, with an adjoining courtyard, pool and garden. “The original home was built in 1905,” says Saia, as he relaxes in the courtyard featuring a water curtain flowing into the pool from an architectural structure that mimics the posts on the front of the house. “Architect and interior designer John Chrestia is responsible for the complete remodeling we did after we purchased the home in 2000, and when the house next door became available in 2006, we purchased it as our guest house and once again called in John to remodel it to fit our needs.”
“We feel fortunate to have both houses,” Stephens says. The couple agrees that having the opportunity to purchase the second house was a positive result of Katrina. “When our neighbor decided to move out of town after the hurricane, he asked if we knew anybody who would be interested in purchasing it,” he says. “We immediately told him we wanted the house.”
Not that the couple needed more space, since their main three-story residence has 4,600 square feet, with a living room, atrium, media room, dining room, den, kitchen and half-bathroom on the first level, a lavish master suite and two additional bedrooms and another bathroom on the second floor, with a media room and office, plus a bathroom on the top floor. For lagniappe there’s a rooftop deck overlooking the treetops of the historic oaks in the park.
“We love having a separate guest house, especially for entertaining when we open both houses and utilize both kitchens, although the guest house kitchen is an abbreviated version that includes a smaller stove and island, thus serving as more of an additional bar and space to gather,” Stephens says. “Our guests love having a complete bar in both houses.” Built in the 1930s, the guest house has 2,000 square feet, featuring an open floor plan on the first level that incorporates the living room, kitchen and half-bath, with two master suites upstairs.
Chrestia is credited with the interior design of both spaces, and he went all-out to execute the couple’s classic contemporary style. “We wanted comfort most of all,” Saia says. “We don’t have a chair or sofa in either house that isn’t comfortable, and we both enjoy the neutral colors of all of the walls.” Chrestia says, “We were all on the same page with all the changes made to both house and the selection of the furnishings. It was a unique, once in a lifetime project of marrying the two houses. Both Vincent and Glynn were a pleasure to have as clients.”
Both houses are contemporary art galleries, with art by some of the best-known local and national artists on display, including two pieces by the famous glass artist Chihuly; a kinetic piece by Lin Emery named “Currents” is featured in the courtyard nearby the imposing granite sculpture of a hand by Jesus Moroles; a pair of nude photographs named “Tumbleweed” by photographer Herb Ritts flank the bed in the master bedroom; the nearby “Circle Dance,” a metal sculpture by the late John Scott, has a place of honor in the master bathroom; and “Day Tripper,” large work of art depicting Snow White by Blake Boyd, hangs on the living room wall in the guest house. And that’s just a partial list. “Gallery owner Arthur Roger guided us with most of our purchases, and we love living with everything he recommended,” Saia says.
Landscape architect Rene J.L. Fransen gets credit for the terraced courtyard, plantings, the pool and its 10-foot high water curtain. “The essential design goal was to provide a seamless transition from inside the main residence to the courtyard, pool and guest house,” Fransen says. “To achieve a smooth flow, the terrace was elevated to the house level, which helped maximize the use of the space. Blue Jay Arizona flagstone was chose for its neutral color and hard sharp angles to help convey a modern design, with the lower are of the garden featuring a seat wall, a dining area and a fire pit.”
Both Saia and Stephens feel fortunate to live in such an interesting setting. “We feel blessed to live in a home on Audubon Park near St. Charles Avenue and Loyola and Tulane universities,” Saia says. “The views and activities in the park provide unending enjoyment. The location and a home that is unique in design make it a dream come true.”