B&A: This Louisiana House Was Modernized But Kept All Its Historic Charm

B&A: This Louisiana House Was Modernized But Kept All Its Historic Charm

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Name: Lauren Granger, Dustin Granger, daughters Mireille (6) and Inès (3), Tangy the cat
Location: Lake Charles’s Charpentier Historic District, Louisiana
Size: 4,950 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years Lived In: 6 years, owned

Lauren and Dustin first came across this house in 2005 when they were driving around neighborhoods in Lake Charles, Louisiana and daydreaming about their future life together.

“Years passed, we were married, and bought our first home in a nearby neighborhood,” Lauren, who is the owner and lead designer at Lauren Granger Design, begins. “After having our first daughter in 2015, in true first-time-mom fashion, I found myself driving around when she fell asleep in the car in order to not wake her from her nap. We had been in our home for about eight years then, and it was a perfect-for-us Craftsman. However, we wanted more space and more than one full bathroom. I vividly remember the silent freak out I had, given that a baby was sleeping behind me, when I drove by that same jaw-dropping home and there was a ‘for sale’ sign in the yard.”

The story of their family and this house doesn’t quite start yet, though. Lauren reveals they didn’t buy the house right away, explaining that the asking price was originally too high, especially considering how much interior work was going to be needed. The home hadn’t been updated since the late ’70s and early ’80s.

“One thing I got a kick out of when I first viewed the inside of the home was the glittered popcorn ceilings throughout, which I had never seen before,” Lauren says. “A couple of months later, the house was still on the market, so we had a general contractor give us an estimate for the planned renovations and presented that to the sellers with a much lower offer. And we had a deal! And a lot of work to do. We spent just over a year on interior renovations, and then moved in.”

While the house may have needed updating to make it livable for a modern family, it is filled with dreamy historic elements preserved from its 1902 construction. “The home has some interesting architectural features, such as the maritime-themed wood fretwork covering the nine double-wide pocket doors, five fireplaces with different mantels, and lots of special elements like the eight-foot high windows surrounding the living areas that start from the floor and go up, which allow for maximal outdoor views of the yard (which has 13 100+ year-old Live Oak Trees).” 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Vintage meets modern. Though my home has lots of Victorian influence in terms of architecture and millwork, my belief is that one single style doesn’t have to define a home’s interior furnishings and overall look. I don’t find it necessary to have Victorian chairs and fainting couches interspersed to “match” the style of the home. I like a good mix of eras and can find appreciation in many styles meshed together.

Inspiration: Mid-century mixed with thrifted and estate sale finds, plus original artwork that makes rooms feel interesting and global in a non-fancy way.

Favorite Element: I love that every single room has a purpose and is used daily. I love being perched above the ground like I’m living in a treehouse.

Biggest Challenge: One big challenge was the kitchen layout, which solved several issues. We created a cased opening that matched the scale of the pocket doors, which allowed for the addition of a wet bar and helped the kitchen flow into the rest of the house. We also changed the location of the sink to underneath a window and re-configured the island, so that I when I’m cooking at the stove, I can see across the house and through several rooms all the way to the front porch. 

Proudest DIY: Not a DIY, but we are super proud of the primary closet “addition.” When we bought the house, there was a smaller closet in the back of the primary bathroom. But we could tell there was a pretty large space in the front corner next to the bedroom that was not accessible in any way except through climbing into the attic.

Once we figured out there was so much space there, we were able to create a doorway opening, re-use the door and moldings that were removed from the kitchen area, and get hardwood flooring milled locally to match the existing. Then, I drew all of the closet built-ins to scale on graph paper for the carpenter. I made sure to include lower clothing rod heights to accommodate my petite stature, along with special shoe storage areas for taller boots and cubbies for smaller clutch purses. Because of the slope of the roof, we were going to lose some space along an entire wall, so I decided it would be a good idea to have a built-in “dresser.” The surface of the dresser is super functional for unwrapping packages, setting down armfuls of folded laundry, and packing suitcases.

Biggest Indulgence: When we were wrapping up the renovation project, I really wished we had a more well-thought-out pantry. But costs were mounting, and of course, everything was more than what we’d budgeted for.

It wasn’t part of our original bids, but we talked about it, and Dustin said, “Let’s just go for it while we’re at it.” So I pulled out my graph paper and drew out the pantry. We hired a separate carpenter who does amazing work to build it all out.

At the same time, if we were going to do this, my one biggest functional issue at our old house was going to be solved once and for all. The Cheerios box would have to fit standing straight up, not laying on its side like it had in our previous home. I made sure we had enough space to make that work. As a finishing touch, because of the tall ceiling height in this room, I had a custom ladder made.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love my magnetic pen and pad that stick to the fridge for grocery list making, the Wellspring Wiggle Pen. I also love Pilot erasable pens for note taking and drafting plans.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have:  I love my inside-cabinet lazy Susans for everyday ease to reach toiletries in my bathroom cabinet. 

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Mix in some “old” with your new. Everything that’s brand-spanking new does not appeal to me. Owning and reusing objects that have a story is what keeps a space unique and interesting. I guess that’s why I feel drawn to these vintage pieces! Shop thrift stores and estate sales for items, and find ways to mix them in with what’s new.

Thanks Lauren and Dustin!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

Jacqueline Marque

Contributor

Jacqueline is a commercial and editorial photographer based in her beloved hometown of New Orleans. She spent 16 years working as a newspaper photojournalist in Newport, RI, before returning home. When she isn’t taking photos of her spirited 9-year-old, she’s busy beading her costume for next Mardi Gras.

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These 36 Homes Tell the Story of Design by the Decade, from the 1910s to the 1990s

These 36 Homes Tell the Story of Design by the Decade, from the 1910s to the 1990s

Tall ceilings and thick crown molding. Elaborately detailed fireplace mantels. Plaster ceiling medallions. Pastel-colored bathroom tiles. It doesn’t really matter what era a home’s design details come from, I’m in love with them. The architectural details are what sold me on my own home (a house in New Orleans built in the 1930s), and it’s likely behind the love affairs that many of the homeowners and renters below have with their homes. But it’s not just architectural details from a certain decade that can get the heart racing… furnishings and accessories that were made in a certain decade or evoke an era’s design essence are also an incredible tool to play around with in interiors. And they can be a great way to embrace the look of the past if you’re in a home without its own history.

In honor of Throwback Month, I’ve rounded up house tours from nine decades — from the 1910s to the 1990s — to celebrate the hallmarks of those design eras. Some of the houses below were built in a specific decade… and the occupants have highlighted and restored original architectural elements to reflect the home’s age. Other people just happen to have a passion for a certain era of design — showing off their decade design love by collecting furniture and decor from that era — no matter when their home’s structure was actually built. And some folks are lucky enough to both live in a home constructed in the decade they love, and have built up a collection of furnishings that match the time period.

When it comes to the earliest decade of the 1900s, a lot of the design details that stick out are the architectural ones. “Most homes in the 1910s had walls decorated with beadboard, wallpaper, or wood trim, while the floors were often tile or hardwood,” reads this McArthur Homes article. Also common were rich and deep colors, and the incorporation of wallpaper and textiles. The intricate moldings in Victorian style houses along with sturdy wood floors and doors are all dreamy elements you can see in large amounts in the four house tours above.

In the 1920s, people were buying houses in a number of different styles. Architectural styles like Craftsman, Tudor Revival, and Cape Cod were popular, and elements like hardwood floors, decorative moldings, high ceilings, plaster walls, and stone fireplaces are hallmarks of the era. According to this SFGATE article, linoleum flooring was also very popular in the 1920s, thanks to how durable and easy to install it is. Homes from the 1920s also started to embrace curves in the form of design elements like coves and arches between rooms.

With everything happening in the world during the 1930s, design and decor became a bit more streamlined, a bit more simplified, and industrial and affordable building materials were commonplace. Furniture in the ’30s featured a blend of “curves, straight lines, organic shapes and mixed mediums captured the day’s idea of modern,” according to SFGATE, and living rooms often had “a few unmatched patterned rugs” mixed about. It also mentions milk-glass shades and small, round mirrors as popular elements of the time. Kitchens also became a bit more modern in the 1930s, and things like “smooth, level countertops,” “uniform cabinets,” and a stove that “tucks neatly under the counter” became the norm.

The straight lines and simplicity of the 1930s began to morph into more curves, and wallpaper started to cover walls in the 1940s. “Bold primary colors intermixed or replaced muted shades, including patriotic red, white and navy blue, and an array of decidedly optimistic shades of yellow balanced by earthy green tones,” describes this article on SFGATE. Floral patterns and prints became popular, too.

While the 1950s certainly had architectural elements that define the era, period-specific furnishings and color palettes come to mind when I visualize the 1950s. “The ’50s emphasized neutrals paired with brights, simple lines, and natural materials,” according to Lonny, all of which you can see in many of the mid-century modern furniture styles that are still popular today. A 1950s kitchen was very distinct, as well. “Steel kitchen cabinets were very common in the 1950s, as manufacturers looked for ways to turn steel factories that produced weapons for the war to more domestic purposes,” wrote Nancy Mitchell in this Apartment Therapy article. “Throughout the ’50s, designers and homeowners embraced color in the kitchen, although these colors were softer than the ones commonly seen in ’30s and ’40s kitchens. While kitchens in the ’30s and ’40s often featured bolder colors like black, red, or green, the ’50s was dominated by soft shades of blue, pink, and yellow — candy-colored cabinets with appliances to match.”

The term “kitschy” always makes me think of the 1950s, but when I consider the 1960s, designs begin to feel more sophisticated and futuristic. “The radical ’60s brought out a new emphasis on mod shapes and unexpected color,” as Lonny describes it. Vibrant colors and even some neon colors began to appear more often. Lots of bold prints covered furniture and walls. Shag carpeting and wood-paneled walls were a big yes. And you really started to see lighting design take off, with interesting shapes and lampshades. Other elements you saw a lot of in the 1960s? According to My Domaine, Scandinavian-inspired vintage wood furniture pieces, Lucite and other clear furniture, textured rugs from places in India and Morocco, graphic pops, geometric shapes, and starburst designs were all popular trends of the time (which actually are all pretty popular today, as well).

Maybe because it had such a resurgence in recent years, but 1970s style is so straightforward. Color palettes were gorgeous and groovy, sporting mustard yellows, avocado greens, earthy terracotta, oranges, reds, and more. Dark woods (especially on kitchen cabinets and walls) were popular, but so were lighter woods like cane and rattan. Nature was celebrated and brought inside thanks to lots of house plants that were popular at the time, like ficus trees, philodendron, and hanging plants with jungle-y trailing vines, which filled rooms in the 1970s. You think murals are big now? Murals were huge in the 1970s. And of course, macrame reminds me of the 1970s every time I look at it.

Decor vibes from the 1980s are so hot right now. “The ‘80s were nothing short of eclectic. Depending on what style you gravitated toward, the color palette ran the gamut from Laura Ashley’s English garden-style sweet pastels to Synthwave-esque neon to Memphis Design‘s primary colors,” Marlen Komar wrote for Apartment Therapy this year. “Houses were decorated with tessellated stone side tables, deep leather sofas, laminate coffee tables, and white Formica bedroom sets. In general, furniture was known for curvier silhouettes, which rejected the straight, sleek lines of mid-century modern design to embrace the rounded corners, spiraled poles, and waterfall edges of a new decade. Patterns ranged from ditsy florals and pastel, almost Southwestern motifs to the familiar geometric shapes — circles, squares, triangles, and squiggles — synonymous with Memphis Design.” 

When I think of the ’90s, the decade I grew up in, I remember the cheery colors of the “Friends” apartment, I think of honey-colored oak wood, lots of florals, and lots of gold/brass elements. We’re talking blonde wood finishes, teal and magenta accents, heavy drapes, ficus trees, oversized lamps and glass coffee tables, to name a few. Pattern seemed to come in the form of wallpaper (does anyone remember wallpaper borders?!), textured walls (hello popcorn ceilings), stenciled designs, and sponge painted walls, according to this article on ’90s trends. ” Beanbags were a legitimate form of furniture. Inflatable furniture may not have been invented in the ’90s, but it sure partially defined it. It wasn’t unusual to see wall-to-wall carpet.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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This Midwestern Walking Trail Is a Total Gem for Architecture Lovers

This Midwestern Walking Trail Is a Total Gem for Architecture Lovers

During one of my recent — and terribly frequent — home organization sprees, I came across my collection of dust-covered, pre-pandemic notebooks. A compulsive list maker, it’s not unusual to discover “seasonal bucket lists” tucked among my to-do lists, daily agendas, and household inventories. Fall 2019: apple picking at local orchard. Winter 2019: attend Lincoln Park ZooLights. Spring 2020: survive? 

But there’s one activity this Midwestern gal includes on every summer bucket list, and it’s just a short, pleasant drive north from my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. This, my friends, is the Geneva Lake Shore Path. A captivating trail with a rich history, the approximately 26-mile path surrounds the perimeter of Wisconsin’s Geneva Lake, located at the state’s southeastern corner. 

The most remarkable aspect of the Geneva Lake Shore Path? The view — and not just of the freshwater lake, but of the stunning lake houses and historical estates that adorn the storied trail. For those, like me, who leap at the chance to attend open houses and stay up late aimlessly perusing Zillow, the path offers visitors the opportunity to marvel at truly spectacular and unique homes and landscapes. 

The Geneva Lake Shore Path itself dates back to 2500 BC, when it was used by Indigenous Americans who originated in what is now known as the Midwest. Members of the Potawatomi Tribe, specifically, would traverse the trail to commute between villages. In a more recent era, following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, wealthy Chicagoans escaped the hustle of the city’s reconstruction to enjoy their lakeside estates, some of which remain today. Domestic workers used the trail to access their employers’ mansions. 

Today, while the trail remains part of the public way, private property owners are responsible for maintaining their lot’s portion of the trail. This agreement lends to the path’s varied and delightfully unpredictable terrain and presentation. 

The range of terrains and the sheer length of the trail do call for care when embarking on a Geneva Lake Shore Path hike. Seasoned visitors recommend breaking the trail into a couple days if needed. (Completing the circumference can take longer than 10 hours, and that’s without budgeting time for frequent and sustained ooh-ing and ahh-ing.) Fortunately, the trail includes several public outlets for easy access and to accommodate shorter visits. 

For those whose homes nestle along the shore, the path can add a cherished feature to their lakeside lifestyle. After years of renting homes on Geneva Lake, Eva Walsh and her family purchased their Fontana, Wisconsin, lake house in 2006. “We absolutely love the shore path,” says Walsh. “My friends and I walk the path most days. Every summer we divide the lake in four and walk each section.” The trail is a treat for Walsh’s five adult children, too, who use the path to safely navigate to and from their favorite local bar, Chuck’s.

Walsh also enjoys encounters with visitors along the path. “I love talking to people when they walk by our house,” says Walsh. “You can tell the people walking the whole lake (backpacks filled with water, snacks, extra socks).” 

Midwesterners, lace up those hiking boots and prepare to soak up whatever sun is left this summer along the Geneva Lake Shore Path. Chance encounters, stunning views, and a whole lot of real estate envy await you. 

Sarah Magnuson

Contributor

Sarah Magnuson is a Chicago-based, Rockford, Illinois-born and bred writer and comedian. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Service Management. When she’s not interviewing real estate experts or sharing her thoughts on laundry chutes (major proponent), Sarah can be found producing sketch comedy shows and liberating retro artifacts from her parents’ basement.

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12 Historic Homes So Stunning, You Won’t Believe They’re Over 100 Years Old

12 Historic Homes So Stunning, You Won’t Believe They’re Over 100 Years Old

Historic homes are often bursting with design character and charm that’s really hard to recreate in newly built homes. The layouts, built-ins, and architectural details in homes like Victorian and Edwardian houses add such richness to these interior spaces. Homeowners and renters are often able find function and beauty in the most unexpected places while living in these residential gems.

It’s quite sad to see a beautiful piece of architecture ravaged by the rotting effects of time, and it’s extremely hopeful and life-affirming when a home that’s been standing for years is able to be restored, maintained, and honored. After more than a hundred years, the homes below are still as grand and interesting as ever thanks to a little love and preservation.

1. This sophisticated 110-year-old home in Long Island has the best built-in bookcase.

Kate Pearce and her husband Billy have really made this historic home their own. They bought it as a fixer-upper, “which meant the price was right, but we could also put our own imprint on the home,” Kate says. Of all the beautiful rooms in this house, their dark green living room with the black built-in bookcase is the star of the show. But while they’ve modernized elements here and there, the spirit of the home’s history is still very much alive throughout the rooms.

2. This 160-year-old biophillic Victorian beauty has plants everywhere — even in the chandelier.

Sharon Lomas runs a nature-inspired design business, so it’s no surprise that her home reflects her work. “Living with plants is very soothing to me and I love to nurture them and watch them grow,” Sharon says. Green is definitely the theme in this 160-year-old Victorian home. While Sharon’s green thumb brings new life into this house, it’s still full of original period features like high ceilings, original timber wood floors, and a sandstone fireplace.

3. Every single room in this Edwardian-era terraced house is a different, bold color palette and it’s absolutely perfect.

Ola Zwolenik and her husband always knew they wanted to find a period property loaded with character. When they found this one in South East London, Ola decided to use every little nook it had to offer to add her own personality. “Especially with period homes, you have so many alcoves and weirdly shaped rooms,” she says. “But it’s what makes them special.” Ola’s style is colorful and eclectic and doesn’t hold back. From the blue monochrome alcove in the guest room, to the electric orange in the dining room, every room is fun and full of color highlighting the home’s unique architecture.

4. This 121-year-old colorful cottage features polka dots on the walls and a bright yellow door.

Marita considers herself a “recovering minimalist” and poured her rainbow-colored childhood dreams all over her historic home. “I would describe my style as the embodiment of childhood magic: colorful, happy, and fun!” she says. Marita looks to her four-year-old daughter for inspiration, which probably explains why the house has so much joy. When it comes to painting, “no rules” is the only rule, and each room ends up looking like a work of art. It’s perhaps an uncommon way to restore a historic home, but any approach that brings more joy into a home is being respectful of the love that went into building the home in the first place.

5. The wood-paneled walls are actually working in this 100-year-old home.

6. The original wood floors and exposed beams make this 1800s home feel warm and look wonderful.

Zach and Hugh from the Instagram account, This Yunky House, consider themselves “home renovation-attempters and backyard chicken dads.” The style in their 1800s home in Philadelphia is rustic farmhouse and colonial with a hint of eclectic. A leak on the second floor led to their proudest DIY, the beautiful exposed beams in the kitchen ceiling. The original hardwood floors are their favorite element in the entire house though. Zach says, “They’re worn, weird, and wonderful.” The couple’s ability to marry the home’s existing details with their own style is truly inspiring.

7. This home built in 1901 has four fireplaces, six cast-iron radiators, and a whimsical window seat.

Clare Bolger and her husband Oliver bought this home because it was filled with “architecture charm” but it still needed a lot of work. They were intentional about restoring the classic parts of the home, while making it modern and functional for their family. “I love the fact that the window seat is the spot where the family would’ve sat in the early 1900s to take their shoes off and warm themselves by the fire,” Clare says. She even  framed the original house deeds and displayed them in a glass case in the hallway.

8. This 100-year-old Chicago condo was given new life with paint, wallpaper, and more

Interior design Julie Mitchiner and her husband live in this century-old condo in Chicago. Julie loves the original details like the millwork, fireplace, built-ins, and bay window and wanted to enhance them through her designs. “My goal was to make it cozy, layered, and unique, while still highlighting the original details,” she says. “The rooms complement each other while still having their own personality.” Added elements like wallpaper and paint were able to make this home fresh and modern while still feeling historical.

9. The crumbling brick walls steal the show in this 200-year-old+ Creole cottage in New Orleans.

 Brent Rosen and Caroline Rosen own a cool historic home in New Orleans that was built in the early 1800s. “Both of our personal tastes veer toward the classic, but with some modern elements and twists,” Caroline says. Those tastes influence their design style and inspired them to leave the brick walls as-is. Since “trendy” isn’t really their vibe, the Rosen’s home is adorned with a collection of original and vintage artwork. It’s a visual gumbo of architectural charm and eclectic modern elements.

10. This Victorian built in 1896 is full of character, color, and pretty patterned wallpaper.

When Angela and her husband saw this large home on Zillow had been on the market for a while, they instantly fell in love with it. She called it “an unrenovated but meticulously cared-for dream” because most of the original elements are well-preserved. It still has the original door knobs, creaky hardwood floors, and (maybe the coolest feature) a laundry chute. Angela says “it’s convenient for laundry, but also fun for sending surprises from floor to floor.” Combined with her unique philosophies on color, the whole house is a joyful expression of now and then.

11. This home built in 1868 is full of charming little details down to the doorknobs.

Timothy Sheehan and his dog Reggie have lived in this 2300-square-foot historic New Orleans home for six and a half years. When Tim first found the home in 2010 it had been abandoned since 2004 and was in pretty bad shape. Nonetheless, he started renovating the day he closed on the property. Since then, he’s restored the hardwood floors, pine covered walls, and other original architectural details that are just too good to give up on.

12. This 150-year-old home’s big, beautiful front porch is so sweet and Southern.

The moment you arrive at Kristen Hallberg Reavis’ home in South Carolina, you are greeted with Southern charm. Beyond the picturesque picket fence is a large front porch that is as inviting and traditional as it gets. When it comes to the interior, Kristen says “the biggest challenge was finding a style that not only suits both of us, but also works with this house, which is 150 years old.” So she says they kept the wood-paneled walls clean and white as a blank canvas to serve as life’s backdrop.

Need more historic home inspiration?

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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11 of the Best Historic Home Before and After Transformations We’ve Ever Seen

11 of the Best Historic Home Before and After Transformations We’ve Ever Seen

Sarah Everett

Editorial Assistant

Sarah is Apartment Therapy’s editorial assistant. She recently completed her MA in journalism at the University of Missouri and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stops include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several outlets local to her hometown, Columbia, Missouri.