From Mary Gilmore
My husband and I recently designed and built our own home in New Orleans, Louisiana. The house is located in the historic Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans, and sits on a substandard sized lot only 21 feet wide and 50 feet deep.
Although the design of the house is contemporary, it was designed to be sensitively integrated into the historic neighborhood. The design includes a front overhanging roof eave, a common architectural element on historic homes in the neighborhood. The home's entrance is through a side hall porch, similar to other houses in the district. A bright yellow window and door give a quirky nod to the bright, bold colors of many eccentrically painted houses throughout the Irish Channel. Even the scale of the tall front windows is derived from the floor-to-ceiling window proportions of historic shotgun houses.
The divide between the contemporary new home and its historic context is also bridged by the use of a familiar material palette. Taking clues from other structures in the area, the house is clad in fiber-cement ("hardie") lapped siding, with a brick base covering the piers of the foundation. The material changes to ship-lap Ipe wood siding at the home’s side hall entrance, creating a warm, welcoming approach into the house. The single-pitch roof is covered with a aluminum standing seam metal roof panels. All of the windows are dark bronze anodized, thermally-broken aluminum with energy efficient double glazing.
On the inside of the house, the first floor is a free-flowing open plan connecting living, dining, and kitchen spaces. The kitchen connects to the outdoors with large sliding glass doors opening onto a rear deck. The second floor houses two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a small laundry room. The most surprising aspect of the interior is a double height, light filled space at the center of the house that flows over multiple levels, opening onto an airy third floor loft and 3rd bedroom.
Although the house sits on a small, narrow site, the interior feels spacious and open through the use of tall (12’ high) ceilings. The spaces are filled with abundant daylight through floor-to-ceiling windows on the front, and large clearstory windows along the south elevation. The efficient floor plan layout utilizes every inch of space on the small lot to create multiple areas for storage and shelving, a half bath tucked beneath the stairs on the first floor, and built-in wood cubbies perfectly sized to store wine bottles and cookbooks.
The interior is composed of white walls and warm woods, accentuated by flat black accents and details. The flooring throughout the house is hardwood white oak. The windows are trimmed on all four sides with the same white oak as the flooring, creating a deep shadow box around each window. The design also incorporates locally fabricated elements, like custom metal railings for the stairs, and a metal ladder to access the loft.