construction

Better Than A Flip: Re-Imagining Our Forever Home

Growing up in the suburbs of New Orleans, I always imagined myself as an adult living in a Victorian-Style Home. The size of the house never mattered much to me. I grew up in a two-story, suburban home, but found the inefficient extra space that required cleaning annoying. “Why have rooms that people never use,” I used to ask my mom about the “formal” living room. My 11 (post-college) years in NYC reaffirmed my preference for minimalism and efficient use of space. So when it came time to purchase my adult home in New Orleans, I surprised myself when my husband and I selected a 1950s raised ranch-style home along Bayou St. John.

“I surprised myself when my husband and I selected a 1950s raised ranch style home”

Construction Photos (In Progress)

Location was more important to me than the mark-up we would need to pay for one of the Victorians on our block. My dreams of high ceilings and antique floor boards was thrown out the window. But I had a vision for this small house, one that evolved as we lived in the house five years prior to renovating.

“I have a vision for this house.”

Floor Plan  Before

Floor Plan Before

The home had an inefficient floor plan similar to neighboring shotgun homes. It was 1100 square feet + a 300 garage. It was 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom with an awkward shaped bonus room that we used as a home office. We knew that we could possibly steal square footage from much of the unused garage space and reconfigure the floor plan towards our lifestyle.

We originally had the idea to convert this home to a three-bedroom/two-bathroom but before we started the financing process, we founded our company Studio BKA Architects. This put the renovation on pause.

Our problem-solving architect brains used this time for critical and creative planning.

We benefited from living in the house for five years prior to renovating to get a sense of our favorite spots in the house were and what rooms had the best natural light. We knew what rooms were over-sized & under-used. Our problem-solving architect brains used this time for critical and creative planning.

We really wanted to create our forever home.

Once the time came for the renovation to start, we no longer looked at the house as an investment property. We really wanted to create our forever home.

Our Design Approach:

We saw an opportunity to create a large entertaining zone in the back half of the house. We planned to remove the walls and ceiling joists in the large entertaining room (comprised of kitchen+living+dining).  It makes for a functional and attractive living room with access to the backyard. We knew we needed to vault the ceilings, since such a large room with a low ceiling would feel oppressive and cave-like. To clear span the large space, we upsized the rafters and used rafter ties to avoid having any midspan supports and use our existing outer foundation. The low pitch roof was a good candidate for vaulting as the proportions still feel cozy and residential. In this scheme, we took advantage of the sunlight penetrating into the long narrow house and access views of the lush green backyard.

We knew we needed to vault the ceilings, since such a large room with a low ceiling would feel oppressive and cave-like.

Floor Plan  After

Floor Plan After

The existing front porch will be built-out and transformed into a master en-suite. By removing the front door entrance, the new entrance will be on the side of the house, which is not uncommon in the denser neighborhoods of New Orleans, where homes are built out to the sidewalk.  The garage remains but is smaller now, but still able to accommodate our SUV. I really like having a garage because it makes for secure spot in a neighborhood where many people park on the street for music festivals and events on the bayou.

Lastly our design approach for interior materials and finishes aims to pay reference to the time in which the home was built: the 1950s, modernism, with less ornamental trim work, more wood grain paneling and minimalist styling.

Before Photos Below

If you are interested in our renovation progress, follow us on Instgram: @studiobka or #stannreno

Before & Afters!: Adaptive Reuse Along Historic Broad Street Corridor

The grind of construction can make it easy to lose sight of the drama of the transformation taking place when renovating a historic building.  Documenting the progress made at the end of a project is really a special feeling, and reminds us why we do what we do, and validates the potential that everyone saw in a previously neglected piece of New Orleans' history.

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Detail Hacks- The Shower Niche

A friend recently sent me a picture of this niche (shown below) and asked how the edges are generally resolved. I thought our conversation would make for a great blog post series called "Detail Hacks" since not everyone building their dream home has years of experience as an architect or builder. 

The shower niche is a great detail when executed properly but unless you are a designer, architect or builder, you may overlook a couple of small things that could change the overall appearance. I will give you a few solutions and you can decide which one looks appropriate in your house!

You probably didn't think about the raw edges of the tile when you were in the tile store trying to make a decision!

You probably didn't think about the raw edges of the tile when you were in the tile store trying to make a decision!

Solution 1: the Schluter strip

The addition of metal gives the bathroom a contemporary vibe. The Schluter strip is essentially a transition strip that captures the raw edge of the tile. 

schluter_image.jpg

Solution 2: Finished edge or bullnose edge

Some tile offer finished or bullnose edges that give the niche a clean look. This detail is great for traditional or modern residential projects. 

Solution 3: Marble 

Let's pretend you selected a subway tile that doesn't offer finished or bullnose edges, what do you do now? One solution is to use marble or quartz as the inset material. It adds a nice contrast and its likely you have this material left over from the counter top fabrication. 

There you have it! Three solution to finishing out your shower niche! Good Luck and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more architecture inspiration! 

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What's the Big Deal with the Bid Phase?

The bidding phase, also know as the procurement phase, is sometimes forgotten as one of the most important phases in your project process. While the drawings will illustrate the scope of work. The bidding phase will help establish terms and conditions for the scope of work. This phase is necessary to help mitigate head butting down the road when conflict arises. 

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