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ACADIAN – Style in a Suburban Dream home

Solid red oak wood floors are a stand out in this foyer and throughout the home. The lovely console table was a splurge item from Noir Furniture. Two glass lanterns and the Greek key rug are perfect accents for the space.

Like many young couples with growing families, Kirk and Christina Tholen realized that their garden home in Rice Military was simply not going to be big enough. Kirk shares, “With our son, Connor, a toddler, and learning we had twins on the way, we knew we needed more space — both house-wise and yard-wise.”

But unlike some, this couple didn’t just jump into new digs. For two years, Kirk and Christina planned their dream home down to every detail, researching floors, design style, architecture, finishes, etc. They gave Chris Wyrick, the architect, hundreds of pictures representing their ideal home.

“We had a vision,” Kirk continues, “based largely on the homes around where I grew up — South Louisiana — and we definitely had a list of ‘must-haves.’ Our goal was to get as far away from a track home as possible. Basically, if it was a mass production item, like the certain types of granite you see everywhere, we didn’t want it in our home, and we wanted a classic style that would stand the test of time versus being outdated in five years.”

The Tholens say that Wyrick was able to do in eight weeks what their previous architect was not able to do in more than a year — which was to take their vision, put it on paper and into the hands of award-winning builder Zac Murtha, whose reputation captured the Tholens’ attention.

Finding the right lot for their dream home was also a big decision. Their criteria led the couple to suburbia, where they found a beautiful one-acre lot on the waterfront, an appealing element to these Louisiana natives. It turned out to be a super location for this couple’s new home, not only due to the size and space it affords them, but also its accessibility to downtown.

Many elements of the couple’s vision make this five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath, 5,168-square-foot home truly unique and period authentic. The exterior and interior of this home include architectural details which are characteristically Acadian/Southern—perhaps none more notable than the front elevation, which the Tholens most definitely wanted to resemble the pier-and-beam homes in South Louisiana with crawl spaces underneath. To do this, the architect utilized a drop front slab, which gives the appearance of the home being elevated. Kirk elaborates, “We also really love the sound created when you walk on the wood floors of a home that is on risers, so we were able to accomplish this detail as well. Period correctness played a big part in our design.”

Other distinctly Acadian design details you’ll find in the Tholen residence are high ceilings; deep, four-piece crown molding; dormers and steeply pitched roofs; columns; deep porches; transoms; etc. There are no less than eight sets of French doors on the home’s backside and three sets on the front. Gas lanterns from New Orleans and even the mortar joints — which Kirk says he researched for weeks — contribute to the historical authenticity of the design.

The home’s beautiful 200-year-old reclaimed Chicago brick really lends an old-world feel. “We love the look of the brick so much that we used as much of it inside as we could,” says Kirk. The butler’s pantry has a groin vault ceiling tiled in brick and the bar area sports brick walls.

Another particularly Southern/French element which was one of Christina’s must-have items was a courtyard, which also incorporates much of the reclaimed brick. Christina explains, “Our home in the city, though small, had a great confined area where our son could safely play outside. We wanted to incorporate that same design into our new home. It fits perfectly with the other architectural elements of the home and Kirk and I, as well as our children, love this outdoor space.”

Another space that Christina loves is her kitchen. They first worked with interior designer JoAnn Brown, who helped with paint and countertop selections. The room is a showstopper, mainly due to the huge Carrera marble island, a special-order version called Statuary Vein. ASID award-
winning interior designer Kate Duckworth of Maison Market explains the challenge of working with such a design: “The kitchen island is such a design statement and the material so special that the homeowners were adamant about finding a way to structure the large size with no seams in the marble. Our solution was to bump up the end pieces a couple of inches, so that it still feels like one piece, but no seams were required.”

To further highlight the kitchen island, Duckworth used a solid blue-gray paint color for the cabinet underneath, which beautifully illuminates the vein in the marble. The result is stunning. In fact, the whole kitchen is stunning, from the island where two French lanterns hang elegantly above to the 48-inch Bertazzoni range to the Shaw’s Original farm-house apron front kitchen sink.

Duckworth shares that the foundation of the design, which is so evident in the kitchen, was to achieve the Acadian look of the exterior inside the home giving it a clean, airy Southern feel. Throughout the home, she utilized a water-inspired, light color palette which blends a French classic aesthetic with a bit of glam, which you’ll find in the use of chrome fixtures and mirrors and mirrored furniture or accessory pieces in many rooms. Some of the newer and more distinctive furnishings are finished in pickled or limed oak and blend well with the family’s heirloom pieces.

“The pickled oak finish works great with families who have small children,” explains Duckworth. “One of our main objectives in the interior design was that everything had to pass the ‘Kid Test.’ We kept things rather minimalist, and the furniture finish is worn with intention, so that it’s okay if things get a bit scratched up.”

They also selected outdoor and heavy duty fabrics for upholstered pieces to make things a little more child-proof. This is highly evident in the family room, where the oversized sectional and the faux green crocodile occasional chairs sit atop a jute rug and share the spotlight with the chunky custom wood mantel, which features a reclaimed brick fireplace box in a herringbone pattern. The result is both functional and aesthetic, while remaining true to the overall design.

Designing for kid spaces is a specialty for Duckworth (one of her 2012 awards is for children’s space design), so the Tholens gave her free rein to design the twins’ nursery. This girly space is a pearly white with a pop of pink at the changing table (which doubles as a dresser). Rather than an overwhelming theme, the room exudes a subtle bird motif which is evident in the drapery and pillows. Even the wrought-iron drapery hardware is customized with tiny birds at each end of the poles and the art over the changing table (a commissioned piece by local artist Laurie Mills) features two birds, symbolizing the birth of the twins. No girl’s room is complete without a little glam, apparent here in the goblet pleated drapery panels which have little crystals at each pleat. Three-dimensional flower wall art above each crib adds interest and a plush shag carpet softens the floor.

If there is a place in the home where the kids’ needs took a back seat, it is the master suite. Kirk shares, “We wanted to create a retreat feel for our private suite without making the room too large. In one of our previous homes, the master was overly large and with the children, we didn’t really spend a whole lot of time there. We decided we’d scale it down and  add square footage to the common areas.”

What was relinquished in size was not, however, relinquished in grandeur. Three pairs of French doors with lake views, elaborate molding and 14-foot ceilings make this master bedroom magnificent. The wall of drapery in a subtle metallic print, a tufted headboard, opulent hotel bedding, glamorous mirrored nightstands, chunky wooden lamps, metallic art over the bed and a modern paisley rug convey a luxurious and elegant finish.

In the master bath, glamour is the theme. Silver vein cut travertine countertops, an authentic claw foot tub and a shower so large it doesn’t need a shower door impart lavishness. The ceiling and niche behind the tub are treated with wallpaper ensconced with thousands of glass beads, and exquisite rope lighting on each side of the barrel vault makes the ceiling glow. Gleaming chrome fixtures, custom framed mirrors and seamless Travertine floor tiles complete the spa-like feel.

The “bling” in this home isn’t limited to inside the walls; some of the most outstanding features are actually behind and outside them. Consider that the whole house is wired (IT Solutions by Lighthouse Technologies) with IT integration — televisions, audio, computers, thermostats, security, etc.—  that is automated and controllable via an iPad/iPhone anywhere in the world.

Additionally, another energy efficient element is the automatic rear patio shades, where even with the shades down, the family can still enjoy their amazing lake view.

Kirk confesses, “Incorporating this kind of detail in a home doesn’t happen without much research, planning and teamwork. We are so lucky to be able to build our dream home exactly the way we wanted it.” The Acadian style and family values this couple brought to the table is played out perfectly in this beautiful suburban setting. As they say on the bayou, “Aieee!”

Text by Cheryl Alexander • Photography by Vera Matson Photography, Vera Matson • Construction by Zac Murtha Homes, Zac Murtha • Architecture by Wyrick Residential Design, Chris Wyrick. • Interior Design by Maison Market, Kate Duckworth, Allied ASID

Custom ironwork on the staircase is true to Acadian style, and the accent table is a family heirloom.

his beautifully situated dining room takes advantage of French doors that open onto the home’s front porch. The round amethyst geode centerpiece was mined in Brazil. It was selected for its size and shape which complements the large round dining table. The buffet and custom chairs were refurbished and refinished by the designer and her team at Maison Market.|

The ceramic “Octagon and Dot” mosaic floor tile in the powder bath shares the spotlight with an
amazing Carrera marble countertop. The freestanding vanity base is from Restoration Hardware, and the bridge faucet and crystal doorknob complete the decadent feel of this space.

Two French lanterns hang elegantly atop the
showstopper in this kitchen: an oversized island topped with Carrera marble. The cabinets underneath, painted in a
blue-grey, and the velvet tufted ottomans in light green, make the white marble countertop stand out.

In the family room, the fireplace box is reclaimed brick in a herringbone pattern. A chunky custom wood mantel with legs and the built-in shelving are the perfect place to display
collectibles. In the seating area are a comfy sectional in “greige” accented by two estate sale chairs which were repainted, then reupholstered in a faux green crocodile with chrome nailheads. An accent table with a bone top and a custom made cocktail table (which doubles as storage for the kids’ books) finish the minimalist aesthetic. Three pairs of French doors open to the back porch, pool, and lakeviews.

This inviting breakfast room, situated at the home’s rear and overlooking the lake, makes the most of the view with heavy molding around the picture windows. Clean furniture lines, a striking hardwood floor and simple daisies in single bud vases keep this minimalist and easy on the eyes.

The subtle bird motif in the twins’ nursery is evident in the drapery and pillows, the iron drapery hardware, and the commissioned art piece by local artist Laurie Mills, which has two birds signifying the birth of the twins. The goblet pleated drapery panels have crystals at each pleat and there is three-dimensional flower art above each crib. The changing table is a fun pop of color and converts into a dresser.

Three pairs of French doors with lakeviews, elaborate molding and 14-foot ceilings make this master bedroom a true retreat.

Silver vein cut travertine countertops from California and an authentic claw foot tub lend lavishness to the master bath. The ceiling and niche behind the tub are treated with a wallpaper covered with thousands of glass beads, and exquisite rope lighting on each side of the barrel vault makes the ceiling glow. Mirrors are custom framed.

Kirk and Christina with son Connor and twin daughters Taylor and Brooke.


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