Photography by Martin G Meyers
Article by Maré Brennan
Interior design and space planning by Gregory Hudgins
Landscape Architecture by Tony Tradewell
Contracting by Pat McGuire Construction
When one of your best pals happens to be the über talented interior designer Gregory Hudgins, it makes perfect sense to trust him to guide you through a renovation of epic proportions. “It all started with this,” laughs the homeowner as she points to the oval table and sculptural chairs in the couple’s mirror-walled dining room. “This was the purchase that began the whole remodel.” Hudgins paired with Pat McGuire of Pat McGuire Construction to create a retreat that this power couple could call home and share easily with their children and beloved pet labrador, Delilah.
The couple was attracted to the stately, rambling ranch with a distinctive pedigree for its possibilities. “We looked at a lot of houses and really like the openness of the den into the kitchen,” says the wife. Bedrooms were already separated from the public areas of the home making entertaining easy, but the flow needed improvement. The inspiration at the heart of the renovations was to create a warm and very calming retreat from their fast-paced lifestyles. Says Hudgins, “The house in its original form was filled with clutter, and the homeowners wanted simplicity and open spaces. My instructions were to create a modern, traditional space and still keep the integrity of the house.” Hudgins knew exactly what to do to whip this home into a modern era. Technological advances are woven throughout the home and gardens, making this home an 80% Smart Home. In a page previously out of a futuristic movie, the homeowners are able to activate or program an array of automated home electronic devices by using their smartphones or remote controls. Arming the home’s security system, controlling HVAC systems, switching appliances on or off, controlling lighting, programming a home theater or entertainment system, lighting the outdoor fire pit, or even filling a jetted tub and setting the pools water features in motion is done with the touch of a button. Technology innovations were carried out by Home and Office Technology Solutions, LLC.
The back gardens were a blank slate and begged for a landscape plan that would get this family outdoors and enjoying all of Louisiana’s seasons, and Tony Tradewell, an Alexandria-based landscape architect, was just the man to do incorporate the homeowners’ wishes for a Zen-inspired retreat that was peaceful but not kitschy. Low planters of hand-chiseled Pennsylvania bluestone are filled with towering bamboo. The centerpiece of the design is a serene rectangular pool which is punctuated by four bluestone square steps which create a bridge separating the spa from the main pool. Set on axis is a yin/yang fire and water feature that draws the eye and guests toward the furthest end of the pool. A stone scupper spills water onto a bed of polished river rocks which holds an 18th century rose granite Chinese grinding wheel, which has been converted for new use as a fire pit. Cozy seating by Barlow and Tyrie are accented with plump pillows dressed in Schumacher fabrics in blue and green. Marjorelle blue garden stools were found at Parterre. The extensive outdoor living area is pulled together with bluestone, which has been cut in planks and laid like wood flooring. Mahogany columns rise from Pennsylvania bluestone plinths to support the outdoor living area/poolhouse structure which is also set on axis with the pool. Multiple scuppers along a back wall near the poolhouse can be activated to spill water into a long basin and add soothing water music as the soundtrack. During Louisiana rains, Japanese copper rain chains bring water from the roof down to the ground level grates in an aesthetically pleasing way. A fireplace covered in coppery toned slate tiles rises to the peaked ceiling painted in the restful Sherwin Williams hue “Retreat.” Hudgins found a pair of 18th century bronze, Chinese foo dogs and repurposed them as andirons in the oversized fireplace. Barlow and Tyrie sectional seating and sofas in a metallic weave get extra special treatment with colorful dragon print pillows by Scalamandré edged in a lush brush fringe. An oversized island is outfitted for outdoor living fun, complete with a hibachi grill surrounded by a countertop of “Fusion” granite. A pair of natural wood containers found in Naples, Florida are filled with exotic greenery and blooms. The back accent wall and the island of the outdoor kitchen is horizontally laid mahogany strips stained to look “like an elegant Italian cigarette boat,” according to Hudgins. The outdoor kitchen within the poolhouse is outfitted to accommodate any kind of gathering. The poolhouse bathroom features pink, rose quartz countertops, a vanity found at LCR with basketweave carved doors and an artful mirror from Arteriors illuminated by a pair of lightsaber sconces.
Hudgins thoughtfully planned the entire renovation around the way the homeowners live and entertain, which meant designing an area specifically for large events would call for caterers. Says Hudgins, “We measured all the catering vans in the area and made sure they would have enough turning radius to get in and out easily.” The laundry room and storage area was expanded and a pantry conveniently located by the back door entryway and directly across from the kitchen is filled with the homeowner’s extensive cookbook collection.
The “Esmeralda” granite, chosen by the homeowner for the center islands was the taking off point for Hudgins’ design. Honed absolute black granite was used around the counters at the edges of the kitchen. Hudgins employed a Chicago-based cabinet maker to design and build the cabinetry in cherry wood, with several key drawers, under the kitchen sink and on the small island, made from quartered anigre wood from Africa. The Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer are outfitted with cherry wood panels which creatively disguise their technology. The smaller island is home to an undersink microwave and plenty of storage designed to hold oversize pots or organize cooking utensils since it is positioned across from the Wolf stainless range. The quartered anigre wood oversized drawers beneath the kitchen sink are U-shaped to allow for plumbing and provide storage for necessities best kept out of sight but within quick reach. Backsplash tiles in iridescent tones that mimic the Esmeralda granite countertops are fired art glass handmade and blown in California. The large island is home to a hidden trash bin, warming drawer and beverage cooler. “This kitchen is loaded with technology and Gregory created such an efficient use of space,” explains the homeowner. Hudgins deftly moves around the space pointing out drawers within drawers, soft closing drawers and doors, a wine cooler, hidden dishwashing drawers and space-saving gadgets within cabinets that up the ante with style and functionality. Floors of porcelain tile with a wood grain finish unify the kitchen and the open concept den.
The computer “brains” of this technologically smart house are located within custom built-in cherry cabinetry in the den. A trio of mahogany stained French doors open out to the poolside. The walls are warmed by wood panels, while a jute rug anchors the comfortable seating space. A pair of textural tweed-upholstered swiveling lounge chairs and a nailhead trimmed extra long sofa in a menswear-inspired shade of grey cozy up to a duo of Lucite and grey leather octagonal coffee tables. The den’s tray ceiling was from a previous renovation done by Julie Rogers, as were the columns that separate the dining, formal living area and foyer.
Before the renovation, the dining room was accessed by a swinging door from the kitchen. Hudgins seamlessly opened up the spaces allowing tons of natural light to penetrate deep into the kitchen, especially as it is reflected in a large wall of storage covered in mirrored panels. A Johnathan Adler chandelier is resplendent about a large oval table and chairs by Bernhardt. Hudgins found the Spanish rosewood inlaid marquetry commode with gilt ormolu and topped with rose quartz from Nick McKinney’s collection of antiques. Original wood floors are carried throughout the open dining, living room and foyer spaces and down the central hallway toward the master suite.
The husband hails from a creative and talented family. Large canvasses painted by his mother are placed prominently throughout the public spaces of the home for all to enjoy. His musically-gifted father’s 1951 Concert Steinway is sited in the formal living room. A pair of butter-soft leather chairs on shiny chrome “X” bases provide a conversational area to enjoy a musical interlude or a roaring fire in the fireplace. “Those chairs are like sitting in a baseball mitt,” explains Hudgins.
A lengthy hallway progressively leads to the most private areas of the home, past the newly renovated guest bath with its organic tones and spaces inspired by the tropics.
Hudgins completely reconfigured the spaces that now contain the husband’s study and dressing room, the wife’s dressing room and the master bed and bathrooms. Large marble tiles in a creamy tone transition from the hallway’s wood flooring to signify crossing over to an even more private zone of the home.
Space for the husband’s study was carved from extra square footage from a guest bedroom and an unnecessary hall closet. Walls are painted a soothing Farrow and Ball shade “Hague Blue.” Mayo Cabinets was commissioned to create custom built-ins for the room which opens into the husband’s dressing room. The linen upholstered sofa and round coffee tables are from Paul Michael Co.
In the master bath, Hudgins used a verdant green marble with a custom edge the designer chose for use on countertops and tub surround. The custom cabinetry is painted Sherwin Williams “Oyster Bay” and on the walls is “Peppercorn.” Top Knobs handles on the cabinet doors and Hudson Valley sconces mounted on vanity mirrors add the jewelry for the room. The walk in shower features a mosaic pebble floor with bands of Walker Zanger mother of pearl glass mosaic tile accents.
The wife’s dressing room opens from the master bath and redefines the idea of modern luxury. Once again, Hudgins left no detail undone. The central storage island was measured to be exactly the perfect height for packing luggage for one of the homeowner’s many trips. Shallow drawers within the island are perfect for organizing accessories. Tactile leather embellished pulls are employed on the island, and elongated lucite pulls lead to a special closet which is home to a clothes steamer and a just-the-right-size, beverage fridge well-stocked with delightfully bubbly Veuve Clicquot. Cubbies along the top of the U-shaped closet were designed to fit the homeowner’s luggage and hooks positioned around the cabinetry make it easy to pull outfits together. A lounge chair draped with a soft flokati is positioned near a light-filled window draped in a chic black, white and grey striped Duralee fabric. Underfoot is an Italian wool carpet with a subtle stripe which is carried over into the couple’s master bedroom. The wife’s vanity mirror reflects light from glorious Corbett sconces. Says Hudgins, “The sconces were definitely worth the wait. The day we ordered them, the factory burned to the ground!” Adds the homeowner of her luxe private retreat, “This is where people tend to gravitate when we have guests over.”
The simple decadence of a well-appointed hotel room was the vibe the homeowners wanted to recreate in their master bedroom. “Good side tables and a super lot of nothing” was the mandate the wife gave to Hudgins. A Hudson bed by Bernhardt Interiors is upholstered in a luxurious grey wool with a masculine nailhead trim. Dransfield and Ross’ ultra-luxe and livable bedding was sourced at Haven. Glamorous bedside tables are topped with the same green honed marble used in the master bath and illuminated by. Tailored drapery panels with a metallic grey, black and silver trellis print are designed with fabrics by Robert Allen for Fabrikut.
Renovation of an existing property is not always clear cut and the outcome is not guaranteed. What is clear throughout the renovation process was that Hudgins and his clients possessed that special collaborative experience that took this project to next level, with immaculate planning and execution of the details that mattered.