Before & After

Character Building

Before & After

Strategic upgrades — and gallons of white paint — transform a coastal Cape.

The Southport Cape a Louisiana couple purchased could have been in a cul-de-sac or wide-open field —“there was nothing connecting it to the waterfront site,” says Wiebke Theodore of Theodore and Theodore Architects in Arrowsic. The place also lacked “character and coziness,” which Wiebke, her partner, husband Steven Theodore, and David Bourne of Dave Bourne Building in Edgecomb implemented with clever architectural enhancements and layout changes, including nudging the main staircase out of its central spot in the entryway. Now when the owners walk in the front door they can see straight through to a shimmering stretch of Linekin Bay.

The exterior before

The home’s miniscule windows were out of proportion with its façade and roofless doorways made the approach feel uninviting, says Wiebke.

The exterior after

Asymmetrical windows create visual interest and give the home an informal feel, says Wiebke. The glazing also corresponds to the rooms and views, with large double-hungs on the kitchen/lawn side of the house and small awning styles on the bathroom/driveway end. A covered porch punctuated with a charcoal door reads as a “welcoming gesture.” Off the dining room, cable railing on an ipe deck lets the ocean shine through.

The kitchen before

Maple cabinetry — including awkwardly placed upper units — trim, and floors made the space feel dark and dated. Behind the stove, a half-wall cut the kitchen off from the living and dining areas.

The kitchen after

The architects removed the wall cabinets and had the existing base units painted and reconfigured in the room. “We have a bias against upper cabinets, which disrupt the flow and take up art space,” says Wiebke. A black granite eat-in counter where the half wall used to be subtly divides the open plan. Whitewashed walls and trim here and throughout the house create airiness.

The kitchen/dining area before

With this wall in place, there was only one way in and out of the kitchen, a scenario that causes bottlenecks, says Wiebke.

The kitchen/dining/living area after

Custom open shelving, a built-in bookcase, and gas fireplace with a honed black granite surround serve as focal points and lend personality to the space.

The living area after

Moving the main staircase into what had been a narrow corridor opened up the passageway between the entry and living area. Beadboard breaks up the ceiling plane and bounces light around the room, making it feel loftier, while connecting the space to the screened porch (see below).

The new screened porch

To justify their expense, structural changes should solve at least two problems, says Wiebke. In this case, carving out a screened porch within the home’s existing footprint eliminated a cumbersome hallway and addressed the lack of southern light in the living area, while providing the owners with a protected space to enjoy the outdoors.