When Tracy and Chris Crump decided to build a new house in Metairie, they knew they wanted it to have the kind of character often found in older homes. Tracy, a retired interior designer, and Chris, a mortgage broker, had renovated three of their previous houses. But designing and building from the ground up would mean looking to classic houses of other eras for inspiration and making sure key details in the plans would deliver the patina of age.
“I always wanted a traditional Southern home,” said Tracy Crump. “A front porch with columns and French doors.”
“A center hall downstairs and up,” added Chris Crump.
The house is a combination of timeless architectural styles: center hall cottage, with its central front-to-back axis and French doors; American farmhouse, with its square-pillared, tin-roofed front porch; and Country French, with its exposed wooden beams. The goal was to combine favorite ideas culled over the years into a seamless design scape that offers modern conveniences and amenities, yet feels rooted in history.
Must-haves included high ceilings; a huge kitchen island that is a striking focal point, as well as a place for dining; and French doors that open onto a back patio and pool area, where the Crumps entertain frequently.
The ground floor, with the master suite, kitchen, living and dining rooms, guest room, and laundry room (which doubles as a workspace), keeps the essential square footage on one level. The upstairs includes a media room, along with bedrooms and baths to accommodate their two grown children (and any future grandchildren).
Rather than devoting valuable real estate to a landing-area bonus room, a space that has become commonplace in newer homes, the upstairs configuration consists of a main hall with rooms on either side and is partly modeled on the Bywater house where Chris Crump’s mother grew up.
Contractor Brett Wynne, of Quigley Construction, with whom the Crumps worked, helped bring into the final design one of Tracy Crump’s favorite features — the dining room’s cathedral ceiling of whitewashed tongue-in-groove pine.
Just as they had with the bones of the house, the Crumps studied elements of traditional houses when selecting the details. Extra-wide crown moldings and distressed wooden floors are historically accurate for a classic center hall cottage. Reclaimed and salvaged materials, such as rustic beams, weathered cypress French doors and old bricks, impart authentic age as well.
They also chose hardware and lighting in keeping with the style of the home: glass doorknobs downstairs, reproduction brass faucets in the kitchen and powder room, and pendant fixtures in both the kitchen and dining area all take their cues from vintage and antique finds. The mahogany newel post at the bottom of the stairs in the foyer was copied from one at Cavan, a Magazine Street restaurant located in an architecturally lavish 19th-century residence.
Comfortable seating came from Jade, the interiors store where the Crumps’ daughter Sarah works as a designer (and the former site of Interiors & Extras, where Tracy once worked). It is mixed with pieces that have either spanned centuries or been made to look as if they have — a 19th-century Louis Philippe chest in the former category, a custom trestle table from Dop Antiques in the latter. There are pieces collected from Tracy Crump’s trips to the Round Top Antiques Show in Texas and keepsakes such as a display of quilts that belonged to her grandmother and great-grandmother.
While hardware, interior doors and the French doors across the back of the house were all ideas that the couple drew from houses they’d loved, the patio and garden were modeled on the iconic courtyards of the French Quarter. The pool, trimmed with cobalt blue tiles, is simple and sleek in its design. But reclaimed bricks, iron posts, flagstone decking and copper accents ground the space in a recognizable New Orleans vernacular.
By putting a garage with a half bath behind the house, where it’s not visible from the street, the Crumps included the expanded storage advantages that come with newer homes and maintained the curb appeal that comes with older ones.
“I designed (the garage) to be aesthetically pleasing from the interior of the house and to match the style of the house,” said Tracy Crump.
Having renovated houses and also started from scratch, the Crumps agree that designing a new house to look old was easier and provided the best of both worlds.
“We really wanted this house to stand the test of time,” Chris Crump said of the confluence of styles, materials and objects chosen to convey connections to the past.
“When my good friends walk into this house,” Tracy Crump added, “they all say this looks just like you. I had a vision, and we brought it to life.”
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