"The most important thing I learned was patience," Wayne Troyer, the design director at studioWTA, says when he thinks back on the work that’s been done on his midcentury ranch house in the historic Lower Garden District of New Orleans.
It’s an apt description of his mindset over the last 20 or so years, which is how long he’s been transforming the property from its initial shag-carpet state into its current modern aesthetic. But while the patience to reimagine this property has been a continual exercise, the process of claiming it was almost instantaneous.
Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design
Troyer remembers that he was originally looking to buy a home with friends who desired a historic property. They found this home, which belongs to a mostly 19th-century neighborhood, but it had only stood since 1952. In other words, it was experienced, but not exactly historic.
"No one was interested in a ranch house in a historic neighborhood, especially on a street that was comprised of 1860s- to 1890s-era homes," Troyer says. "It was a for sale by owner and on the market for a long time."
He looked around anyway, and noticed that the house had been well maintained, even if its features hadn’t been changed in 40 years. Troyer was intrigued by the idea of working on a home for himself and his wife, especially one that felt like a worthwhile secret amid the more predictable, long-standing homes in the area.
"I saw the house as an opportunity to explore different ideas about contemporary design in historic neighborhoods, especially one that is part of a registered and controlled historic district," he says. "Since most residential lots in New Orleans are 30 feet by 110 feet, there was an instant appeal to a lot that was 90 feet by 90 feet, because I have always been drawn to the idea of a house within a garden."
After: Kitchen and Dining Area
Shop the Look
So Troyer took the home as his own, and set about updating it in a series of phases. A guest studio was completed in 2013, and the exterior and kitchen was wrapped up last year. He has plans to work on the hardscape this year, as well as a roof deck. But as of right now, the 2,000-square-foot property—which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study, and that separate guest studio—is exactly what Troyer had in mind. Perhaps that’s because he gave himself permission to take things slowly.
"I established goals that were focused on how natural light moved through the interiors, the texture of individual materials, interior flow and function, and always the connection to the garden," he says.
Related Reading: A Midcentury Wrapped Around an Oak Tree Turns Over a New Leaf
Builder: Delta Tech, Sandra Tomasetti
Structural Engineer: Ashton Avegno