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Tantalizing Texture


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A homeowner injects spirit and soul into this New Orleans style charmer
P
ortrait photographer Susan Becker makes her living through the lens, absorbed in her subjects. It’s all about lighting, contrast, composition. Balance. And it’s that same creative intuition that drove perhaps her most compelling project to date, the design of her art-filled New Orleans style shotgun house.

“I know what I like and it’s all about balance and texture,” says Susan, whose exuberant spirit is reflected in this two-story charmer overlooking a lake. This light and bright, sophisticated dwelling is awash in character. Walls of vintage barn wood surround the wood-burning fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom. Ebonized wood floors were hammered between coats of paint to achieve a dinged up, well-worn look.

It’s a newly constructed home with all the modern conveniences but, ironically, a sense of history.

“I was raised like that, in houses with high ceilings and big windows and old floors so I wanted that sense of things,” Susan explains. “But I love to mix things together too, like textures and design elements that add interest to the space. I know what I like and what’s funny is almost everyone who comes to my house says this house is totally me. I really do think this house reflects me in every way.”

This 2,800-square-foot home is the perfect everyday getaway for Susan, an empty-nester. But son Morgan, 20, and daughter Haley, 18, both college students, no doubt love coming home as well. And their dog, Ellie, a Maltese who pads around the place claiming one comfy spot after another, obviously approves of the digs too.

“I moved from a very large home,” explains Susan. “I wanted a smaller place where I could be together with my kids but not be cramped. And I didn’t want a place that overlooked a parking lot or the side of a building. I wanted some sort of view.”

She got it. By cleverly flipping the floorplan, she created a home where the upstairs living, dining and kitchen, all spacious with high ceilings, take in expansive lake views. A trio of French doors off
of the living room are thrown open to the balcony, weather permitting. “They thought I was crazy because I insisted on a wood-burning fireplace. But that first hint of cool weather and those doors will be open with the fireplace on. I just love the crackle of a fire and that nice cool breeze.”

The downstairs accommodates sleeping quarters, just the kind of coziness Susan was looking for.

The dwelling bursts with personality, inside and out. Even curbside, the house is a showstopper with bold, colorful shutters that enclose the porch. This architectural element speaks to the vernacular of a classic New Orleans shotgun house, but also provides privacy when needed.

More unexpected treats await inside  — like a bold horizontal black and white stripe that follows the length of the front hallway wall. “Again, something no one was sure about but me!” says Susan. Her “think outside of the box” style works. The stripe invites the eye to follow the lines of the house itself, meeting up with a fun music/media room, a mudroom and, to the left, her daughter’s bedroom with a fun chalkboard wall full of pastel scribbles from family and friends.

The master bedroom at the front of the downstairs is testament to Susan’s creative handiwork too. Her mantra — “texture, texture, texture” — is strongly adhered to with beautiful patterned curtains and wispy sheers on French doors (draperies by Windows of Opportunity, Magnolia) mixing with a thick sisal rug and fireplace surround wall designed from gray-washed old barn wood. A panel of art cleverly substitutes for the bed’s headboard. “I didn’t want a headboard because I wanted something that would go to the ceiling,” Susan explains.

Her unique style follows upstairs where comfortable down-filled, slipcovered furniture settles in nicely with antiques. Again, a wall of old barn wood surrounding the fireplace is a major conversation piece. “It wasn’t easy to find. Where is old barn wood when you need it?” she says, with a laugh. Firewood neatly stacked under a window seat could double as an organic piece of art. A large paneled mirror over the sofa reflects the room’s contents, making the already spacious room seem all the larger.

Connected to this space is a stunning dining room that boasts a long built-in banquette to accommodate dinner guests. A hardy Restoration Hardware dining table is lovely in its simplicity with nail-studded chairs providing seating on the other side. Topping off this scene is the perfect feathered contrast, a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic chandelier with plumes surrounding a cage of chicken wire.

“I just had to have it,” says Susan. “It’s a stark contrast to the other things in the room. Very feminine too. I like that.”

An oversized letter “S” atop the wine bar is another piece that just begs conversation. It sits cockeyed as if to say, “Welcome! Wonder why I’m not upright?”

“At first I wanted it to be straight, but up and down is too expected, so I like it the way it is,” Susan says. “And when people come drink at my house, they have to sign the chalkboard wall in the bar. It’s a rule!”

This hands-on homeowner even drew the design for the bar’s wrought iron door. “Most of the things I saw were too curvy and I wanted something more simple,” she explains.

Indeed, glitz isn’t Susan’s thing. It’s more about organic simplicity and comfort. In that vein, the kitchen with classic subway backsplash and soapstone countertops fits the bill. “I don’t like shiny countertops and that sort of thing,” she says. This light and bright white kitchen with glass cabinet fronts serves as home base with a large island, perfect for parties.

A large utility room rounds out the upstairs.

And Susan, owner of Susan Becker Photography, is excited about a work-in-progress, her studio above the garage. The back door of the home leads to a courtyard that connects to this space.

“It’s nice to have a studio space here, so convenient,” she says. “This house is all about comfort. I want a place where you feel comfortable putting your feet up, nothing formal, nothing fancy. And I want others to feel comfortable doing the same,” she says, pointing to a slipcovered sofa where dog Ellie sinks into a cushion, obviously abiding by that rule.

“Family and friends are the most important thing and making this home inviting to me, and them, was the number one goal. I feel like I’ve accomplished that.”


This beautiful New Orleans shotgun house has massive curb appeal with its gated entrance, wrap-around porch, balcony and sweep of French doors.

This beautiful New Orleans shotgun house has massive curb appeal with its gated entrance, wrap-around porch, balcony and sweep of French doors.

Susan, a photographer, has the perfect set-up for her studio — a space above the garage. “It’s a work in progress,” she says. “But nice to have it just across the courtyard.”

Susan, a photographer, has the perfect set-up for her studio — a space above the garage. “It’s a work in progress,” she says. “But nice to have it just across the courtyard.”

The homeowner took her idea of a New Orleans shotgun house up another notch with this architectural element —colorful shutters — that incorporate character and provide privacy when needed.

The homeowner took her idea of a New Orleans shotgun house up another notch with this architectural element —colorful shutters — that incorporate character and provide privacy when needed.

The upper balcony, accessed through French doors off of the living room, provides an expansive lake view.

The upper balcony, accessed through French doors off of the living room, provides an expansive lake view.

Ellie, the Maltese, makes herself comfortable on one of her favorite pieces of furniture in the living room.

Ellie, the Maltese, makes herself comfortable on one of her favorite pieces of furniture in the living room.

Susan loved the way the cockeyed “S” looked atop the wine bar, so left it that way. “It’s more unexpected,” says the homeowner. “And when friends come over and drink, they have to sign my wall!”

Susan loved the way the cockeyed “S” looked atop the wine bar, so left it that way. “It’s more unexpected,” says the homeowner. “And when friends come over and drink, they have to sign my wall!”

Old barn wood washed in gray makes for a stunning fireplace wall in the master bedroom.

Old barn wood washed in gray makes for a stunning fireplace wall in the master bedroom.

This lovely table setting ushers in autumn with its Fall colors and form.

This lovely table setting ushers in autumn with its Fall colors and form.

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Bold black and white horizontal stripes carry through the front entry hall, another of Susan’s creative ideas to add texture and interest. A jute runner on the staircase adds organic flair.

Bold black and white horizontal stripes carry through the front entry hall, another of Susan’s creative ideas to add texture and interest. A jute runner on the staircase adds organic flair.

This is a family that loves music, as evidenced by this collection here, including a guitar signed by the Rolling Stones that adorns the wall.

This is a family that loves music, as evidenced by this collection here, including a guitar signed by the Rolling Stones that adorns the wall.

This mudroom is most welcoming with a collection of hats dangling from the happiest of signs. Pressed plant hangings from the 1920s add a vintage touch.

This mudroom is most welcoming with a collection of hats dangling from the happiest of signs. Pressed plant hangings from the 1920s add a vintage touch.

Daughter Haley, now a college student, has a fun bedroom to return to when visiting. A chalkboard wall signed by family and friends is a treasured art piece.

Daughter Haley, now a college student, has a fun bedroom to return to when visiting. A chalkboard wall signed by family and friends is a treasured art piece.

Simple, spa-like elegance is the key to this master bathroom’s ambience.

Simple, spa-like elegance is the key to this master bathroom’s ambience.

A fun, sequined dress mannequin topped with a hat is the perfect accessory for this curvy, footed bathtub in the master bathroom.

A fun, sequined dress mannequin topped with a hat is the perfect accessory for this curvy, footed bathtub in the master bathroom.

A sophisticated blend of textures in the master bedroom makes for a cozy space. Oversized pendants add drama on either side of the bed while a large art piece cleverly substitutes as a headboard. Gray-washed barn siding adds organic flair around the fireplace.

A sophisticated blend of textures in the master bedroom makes for a cozy space. Oversized pendants add drama on either side of the bed while a large art piece cleverly substitutes as a headboard. Gray-washed barn siding adds organic flair around the fireplace.

French doors off of the master bedroom give the house an open-air feel and quick access to the beautiful porch and surrounding views.

French doors off of the master bedroom give the house an open-air feel and quick access to the beautiful porch and surrounding views.


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