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Southern Comfort

By Taylor Collins
In Bayou Home
Jan 22nd, 2017
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Linda and Sam Trinca’s home in the heart of Monroe, has quite an extraordinary history.

Article By Maré Brennan   
Photography By Martin G Meyers

BUILT OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO in 1912 by Captain R. L. McRaney and his wife along the banks of the Ouachita River near the Forsythe boat dock, the home was moved to higher ground on Park Avenue when the Ouachita levee system was built in 1934 after the Great Flood of 1927. Somewhere, Linda Trinca says, there is a photo of a mule train pulling and rolling the home atop giant logs to its final destination on Park. Can you imagine that sight! Once the home was moved to its present location on Park, the house was sited perfectly to take in summer sun on the north side of the house, with winter sun facing and warming the home’s sunroom. Owned by the McRaney family until the Trincas bought the home 42 years ago, there is no mistaking the indelible impact the Trinca family has made on the house and the house to the family.

“We have had a huge emotional attachment to this house,” said Linda of their time spent raising their 5 children within its walls. “When we bought the home, we reinstalled the railing above the garage after noticing it in an old photograph. The house was dated to at least 1912 based on the original fixtures, like the chandelier in the home’s central foyer, according to the homeowner. Shiplap beneath all the walls made it easy to hang artwork and mirrors with ease. After they moved into the home, a neighborhood friend once took them to see the original piers where the house was located in a big bend of the Ouachita.

The original home had a small kitchen which was renovated and expanded a little over six years ago with help from Sandy Sartor from Key Millworks. “My husband is the easiest man in the world. I took pictures to Sandy for the kitchen renovation and called Jeff Carbo to help us with an outside kitchen and landscape plan, explains Linda, whose stylish red-rimmed eyeglasses, long turquoise necklace and fringed poncho create her unmistakable signature look, casually chic and pulled together to perfection.

The outdoor living area at the Trinca home is a natural extension of the couple’s entertaining space. “This is where we watch a lot of football,” exclaims Linda of the seating area cozied up to the outdoor fireplace with a large flatscreen television above the substantial mantle. “Sam loves his green egg cooker and his football by the fire.” The entire area outside is wired for flush mounted heaters, so the space can be used in any season. Underfoot brick pavers unify throughout the space. Dr. Trinca’s outdoor kitchen is luxurious by any standard, with SubZero fridge drawers, a Gaggenau fish fryer, gas ranges, an outdoor dishwasher and a trash can that locks up so that critters stay out.  The piéce de resistance is a Hoshizaki “Sonic” ice maker. Linda had a New Orleans artisan create a cypress top for a wicker base of an old library table to create an outdoor dining table for the space. Vintage wicker furniture from Natchez mixes with a wicker rocker found in North Carolina for a very comfortable are for lounging.  Beside the oversized fireplace, Spanish cedar louvered shutters are stained a deep green. Big birds of paradise bring a touch of New Orleans to the outdoor space. A mosquito system in the backyard uses an all-natural marigold extract to keep pesky, biting insects at bay.

The Carbo-designed gardens feature a pathway lined with Jananese maples that on this particular day radiate with red energy as sunlight kisses their fall-tinted leaves. A little girl fountain adds a focal point to a serene water feature surrounded by lush plantings of calla lilies and ferns. The couple added the fountain as a remembrance of a child they lost. A backyard neighbor was so loved that the Trincas could never bear to build a fence, instead planting a hedge of ligustrum. Linda also added a whimsical fairy garden for her grandchildren to enjoy.

The equally innovative and breathtaking kitchen has many state-of-the-art features while retaining a historic look in keeping with the age of the home. For instance a kick plate below the generous farmhouse sink, makes hands-free operation of the faucet a breeze. The windows over the kitchen sink roll out make it easy to communicate back and forth from outdoor living space to the kitchen. The chandelier above the island was custom sized to the perfect proportion by designer Julie Neal. The center island is covered in a sleek, marble fabricated to 6 cm by bonding two pieces of marble together; while soft closing drawers with built-in dividers for utensils leave nothing to chance. Glass-paned upper cabinets display the family’s crystal and china.

Artwork plays prominently throughout the Trincas’ home. In the kitchen, a large painting by Louisiana artist Robin Hamaker adds a punch of color in the mainly neutral space. Titled “Healing Tears,” the artist related that the dripping paint on the canvas symbolized her personal triumphs after surviving a divorce and cancer. A colorful Mackenzie-Childs pillow echoes the colors of the Hamaker painting and rests in a comfortable seat in the kitchen. Another painting by a Delgado Community College art professor was a New Orleans purchase. “I love her attitude,” says Linda of the figure in the painting from 1976 which was painted on an old paper windowshade. “She makes me happy!”

Beyond the kitchen, the inviting breakfast room with its endearing Chinoiserie Toile wall covering with windows topped with green checked valances is filled with meaningful furnishings. The center table was sourced from Traditions Antiques. The rug is a remembrance of the late Clowe Wright, a local interior designer who was known for her brilliant use of color. The ambience of the breakfast area is enhanced by a very New Orleans vibe, says Linda. On the northwest corner of the home, the location of the breakfast room allows one to hear music from nearby Neville High School and the light sounds of traffic as it passes along Park.

Guests love to congregate and gather in the Trincas’ sunroom. A step down to the deep green carpet with a discreet beige diamond pattern takes one into the light filled space. A ventless fireplace with a slate surround and substantial mantle was added around ten years ago, along with built-in cabinetry. “I wanted it done like an older house,” says Linda of the shallow built-in shelves and pocket doors. Linda, who leads a women’s Bible discussion group, BSF, loves the space for intimate gatherings with family and with friends.

A landscape painting, “Eroding Marshland,” by Baton Rouge artist Rhea Gary, is found in the home’s living room, which was renovated at the same time as the sunroom. “I love Rhea Gary’s use of color but it just didn’t go in my house. Then I saw this painting which conveys how saltwater encroachment in the marsh is killing it,” says Linda.  New Orleans artist Shelly Rosenblum’s canvas with cypress trees hangs above the neutral sofa. “Art is so personal, but my kids are always wanting me to pick it out for them,” laughs Linda. The living room’s fireplace is also ventless and can be operated with the touch of a button adding to the convenience of the space.

The Trinca home is really a tale of two houses with the downstairs as the public, entertaining spaces and the upstairs reserved as a quiet retreat for the couple. Upstairs, hardwood floors lie beneath plush carpeting. In the master bedroom, a lamp which had been her mother’s rests on a bedside table. The antique brass bed features layers of luxe bedding The homeowner, who grew up in El Dorado, Arkansas met her husband, Sam, when his family moved from Mayfield, Kentucky to her home town. Describing their lengthy and loving marriage and time together raising a family, says Linda, “Sam and I practically raised each other.”

One of the couple’s girls bedrooms is outfitted in a repurposed Chintz from the home’s downstairs living room. Linda created twin headboards and dust ruffles, along with drapery and even had enough fabric to reupholster a favorite chair for the adorable room. Explains Linda, “When we bought the house, there was an apartment upstairs that the McRaney’s daughter had rented out. Renovations to that section resulted in a new guest bath with very stylish concrete tile where the apartment’s kitchen and bath had been located.

A second bedroom features an antique iron bed. The carpet is a trellis pattern in blue on a cream background. A third guest bedroom upstairs is a light-filled space that feels more like a treehouse and was the Trinca’s older two girls’ room. A staircase connects the room to the back of the home and the kitchen.

Memories of raising five children in such an iconic and historic home are abundant. In the home’s large hall near the handsome central staircase hangs a drawing commissioned by the couple’s children and executed by Houston artist Jim Harris in 2000 of their childhood home. “This artist puts a cross in all of his drawings,” adds Linda. “Our family is pretty tight knit because we never take ourselves too seriously. We used to have screen doors leading to the back of the property. I can still hear the kids running in and out, sliding down bannisters and the screen doors squeaking and slamming shut. The sounds of the city are never far. I love hearing a train whistle, Parkview’s church bells and cars swishing by.”

Another favorite memory centers on their daughter Jennifer’s wedding reception which took place at the home. “We had a caterer cook brunch the day after the wedding and just watched the world go by,” says Linda of the magical memory. When their youngest daughter, Kacey, became engaged, she said she wanted her wedding to be just like the day after Jennifer’s wedding. The search for a destination that could recreate the same vibe was on, and a trip through Cashiers, NC led Linda to the perfect location at The Farm at Old Edwards Inn, where the couple married in the garden and had their reception in the barn.

Christmas has always been a special time at the Park Avenue home and the source of many of the family’s happiest memories. The Trincas are known for their multitude of windows hung with Christmas wreaths, 24 to be exact, which have acted of a harbinger of the holiday season. Hung with care from every window, the wreaths and the 23 stockings for each family member add up to a lot of love, for their neighbors and each other.  “Usually at Christmas friends will come over and we would gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols,” according to Linda. During Christmas Eve gatherings Sam was known for cooking Italian sausage, and Linda would do a gumbo. Oftentimes, Linda describes finding her oldest grandson at the piano filling the home with music when he is visiting. There is no doubt that the couples’ 5 children and their 11 grandchildren have left their mark on the history of this home.

Says Linda of the couple’s impending move from the home, “Last year, the day after Christmas, I told my kids to take their ornaments off the tree. We had decided that we were finally ready to sell our house.”  A tiny home on the lake is calling and will be the Trincas’ home base “until God show us His plan.”  But for now, Linda says, “There are no plans, just freedom to do whatever.” The wreaths in the windows tradition is one the homeowners and their children hope will continue for years to come waiting on whomever the home chooses to be its next owner.

 

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