Back to the Garden

Add to
Like
Comment
Share
By Heather Corcoran / Published by Dwell
A globetrotting couple rebuild a Katrina-damaged residence by a famous midcentury New Orleans firm—on the very street where one of them grew up.

A 1953 modern home by Curtis and Davis in New Orleans’s Lakeshore neighborhood proved too tempting to pass up for veteran renovators Maury Strong, a film producer with an A-list client roster, and Ron Caron, a public school teacher. But the couple soon discovered that the flood-damaged structure with multiple sloppy renovations was a bigger challenge than they had imagined. With the help of a team led by Wayne Troyer and Natan Diacon-Furtado of studioWTA and the original architectural plans, they created a modern oasis to last a lifetime.   

Back to the Garden - Photo 1 of 13 - Maury Strong makes coffee in the kitchen of the 2,400-square-foot bungalow she renovated <br>with her husband, Ron Caron.The overall light palette includes white Caesarstone countertops <br>and limestone floors. The Bacco stools were purchased through Design Within Reach’s eBay outlet.&nbsp;

Maury Strong makes coffee in the kitchen of the 2,400-square-foot bungalow she renovated
with her husband, Ron Caron.The overall light palette includes white Caesarstone countertops
and limestone floors. The Bacco stools were purchased through Design Within Reach’s eBay outlet. 

Maury Strong: I want fresh blood when it comes to houses. Ron and I have been together 16 years, and I’ve moved him to a couple of different countries and a bunch of different cities, and to a number of different homes in each city. We were living in New Orleans’s Garden District, and I’m looking, and I see this really cool midcentury house right out on the lakefront in Lakeshore. I call our friend Wayne Troyer, who ended up being our architect. We go to the open house and every architect in town is there. We were like, "Damn, this place needs a lot of work." By the time we left and went to brunch, they had four offers. 

Back to the Garden - Photo 2 of 13 - An existing brick wall was dismantled, cleaned, and rebuilt to celebrate its patina. It now showcases an artwork by Blake Boyd.

An existing brick wall was dismantled, cleaned, and rebuilt to celebrate its patina. It now showcases an artwork by Blake Boyd.

Ron Caron: Maury didn’t know at the time that it was six houses down from my childhood home. I had never been inside, but I had passed it on my bicycle many times.

Back to the Garden - Photo 3 of 13 - The furnishings are a mix of inherited midcentury pieces and eBay finds, including the circular Danish chair with a woven seat in the living area. The All White paint seen throughout the house is by Farrow &amp; Ball.&nbsp;

The furnishings are a mix of inherited midcentury pieces and eBay finds, including the circular Danish chair with a woven seat in the living area. The All White paint seen throughout the house is by Farrow & Ball. 

Maury: His parents recall it being built.

Back to the Garden - Photo 4 of 13 - Custom curtains by Katie Koch Home offer privacy in the master suite, where Ron plays the trumpet. The couple own a mix of new and vintage Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs.&nbsp;

Custom curtains by Katie Koch Home offer privacy in the master suite, where Ron plays the trumpet. The couple own a mix of new and vintage Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs. 

Ron: My parents built a new home for maybe $20,000. They lived there for 50-odd years until Katrina came. This neighborhood had eight feet of water—the house we’re living in was inundated. 

Back to the Garden - Photo 5 of 13 - Of the facade, Maury says, "It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s definitely one of the cooler houses in our area."

Of the facade, Maury says, "It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s definitely one of the cooler houses in our area."

Maury: Somebody had bought the house the day before Katrina. They had to sell it, and somebody else bought it and did a pretty crappy job restoring it—a real patch-up job. We’d been through a couple of renovations together before, so we knew that we were planning to gut it and create a new foundation, new roof, new everything. We really weren’t scared to undertake the work. We knew exactly what we were going to do, and that was to bring Palm Springs to New Orleans.

Back to the Garden - Photo 6 of 13 - The kitchen and bar millwork is ApplePly with a walnut veneer.&nbsp;

The kitchen and bar millwork is ApplePly with a walnut veneer. 

Our friend Wayne started to draw up some amazing plans, keeping the original intent intact but making it more contemporary. The people we bought the house from had the original plans, so we were able to say, "If Curtis and Davis were alive today and they had the technology and materials that we have available, what decisions would they have made?" 

Back to the Garden - Photo 7 of 13 - To revive the original architects’ vision, studioWTA restored a four-foot roof overhang above a wall of La Cantina sliders. The shade helps limit solar gain, while a pool by Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture provides respite on sweltering summer days.

To revive the original architects’ vision, studioWTA restored a four-foot roof overhang above a wall of La Cantina sliders. The shade helps limit solar gain, while a pool by Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture provides respite on sweltering summer days.

"We got tired of moving. We thought, Let’s go home, but let’s bring the places that we love back to New Orleans.’ " Maury Strong, Resident

Back to the Garden - Photo 8 of 13 - In the master bathroom, a BainUltra Essencia freestanding tub with an Axor Starck filler offers a perch for the couple’s granddaughter Arabella and her cousin Alexandra. The built-in vanity is made of the same ApplePly material as the kitchen cabinetry.

In the master bathroom, a BainUltra Essencia freestanding tub with an Axor Starck filler offers a perch for the couple’s granddaughter Arabella and her cousin Alexandra. The built-in vanity is made of the same ApplePly material as the kitchen cabinetry.

The previous owner hadn’t done that. They painted over all the brick. They used different materials outside and inside. So we stripped all the paint off the brick and we left it natural. And then we made sure that if you saw one material inside, it continued outside.

Back to the Garden - Photo 9 of 13 - Outdoor Tub: A tucked-away bathtub provides a private backyard oasis. "We kind of got carried away," resident Maury Strong recalls of the decision to place the 59-inch freestanding Keren basin outdoors. "My view was, ‘Let’s just do it all."’ The extra effort paid off—the outdoor bath is among her grandchildren’s favorite parts of the house. Her husband, Ron Caron, also enjoys relaxing there.&nbsp;

Outdoor Tub: A tucked-away bathtub provides a private backyard oasis. "We kind of got carried away," resident Maury Strong recalls of the decision to place the 59-inch freestanding Keren basin outdoors. "My view was, ‘Let’s just do it all."’ The extra effort paid off—the outdoor bath is among her grandchildren’s favorite parts of the house. Her husband, Ron Caron, also enjoys relaxing there. 

Ron: We knew that with the right touch it could be something magical, like maybe it had once been.

Back to the Garden - Photo 10 of 13 - Plantings: Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture, contractor Sandra Tomasetti, and architecture firm studioWTA collaborated to develop a roofline without gutters above the walkway and carport. Instead, water is channeled to feed the garden. The result is a California-inspired yard with geometrically laid-out plantings rather than grass. "It’s rows of green with mulch permeating," Maury says.&nbsp;

Plantings: Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture, contractor Sandra Tomasetti, and architecture firm studioWTA collaborated to develop a roofline without gutters above the walkway and carport. Instead, water is channeled to feed the garden. The result is a California-inspired yard with geometrically laid-out plantings rather than grass. "It’s rows of green with mulch permeating," Maury says. 

Maury: It took two years from "go" to "whoa." Was it more than we expected to bite off? Yes. There were plenty of tears. We wanted a cohesive feel throughout the house—almost like a paper doll, where you start with the undergarments. You’ve got this clean, open white shell with the limestone floor and the plaster walls and you’ve got the brick, and then we put the same cabinetry in the kitchen, the bar, the guest bathroom, and the master bathroom. It lets the furniture and the art be the accents throughout the house. 

Back to the Garden - Photo 11 of 13 - Sliders: At the back of the house, floor-to-ceiling LaCantina sliding doors replaced glass panes with a transom and clerestory above, enhancing the link between indoors and out. The residents wanted to stay true to the spirit of the midcentury house and felt that the architects Curtis and Davis would have embraced the technology if it had existed when the house was built in 1953.

Sliders: At the back of the house, floor-to-ceiling LaCantina sliding doors replaced glass panes with a transom and clerestory above, enhancing the link between indoors and out. The residents wanted to stay true to the spirit of the midcentury house and felt that the architects Curtis and Davis would have embraced the technology if it had existed when the house was built in 1953.

Ron: If you’re in the backyard at night, looking into the house that’s lit up behind the glass, you can’t believe that you live in this space. You can see each room, and it’s beautiful. Just beautiful.

Back to the Garden - Photo 12 of 13 - Appleply Cabinets: Conner Millworks created the custom casework throughout the house. Although the residents initially considered solid hardwood, ApplePly composite with a walnut veneer proved to be a more sustainable alternative. The material, which is sealed with a matte-finish conversion varnish, appears in the kitchen, the bar area, and even the master and guest bathrooms.&nbsp;

Appleply Cabinets: Conner Millworks created the custom casework throughout the house. Although the residents initially considered solid hardwood, ApplePly composite with a walnut veneer proved to be a more sustainable alternative. The material, which is sealed with a matte-finish conversion varnish, appears in the kitchen, the bar area, and even the master and guest bathrooms. 

Maury: For the first time in our lives, we feel like we don’t have to keep moving.

Back to the Garden - Photo 13 of 13 -