Urban Retreat

Light-filled spaces distinguish this comfortable sanctuary not far from the French Quarter. 
Majella Chube Hamilton

Next time you get the urge to load up the car for a family weekend at the beach, consider an alternative route to sun and fun. Think of the time and effort saved by dashing just a few feet from your backdoor to the entrance of an in-town, year-round guesthouse and pool.

This 2003 Southern Living Home Award winner for new construction--a fully equipped, 2,200-square-foot, two-bedroom home and pool--shares its rear yard with the homeowners' existing residence in Metairie, Louisiana.

Meme and Bertrand Wilson purchased a lot directly behind their existing property, creating a through-lot to the adjacent street. The project began as a pool house, but before long, it developed into an amazing loft cottage surrounded by water.

"We are very sociable people," Bertrand says. "At the very least, we wanted a private place so that our family and friends could enjoy the beauty of the home without having to travel long distances."

 

Island Feel
Water surrounds the house, including a pool and a mini spa that gives a weekend-at-the-beach impression. For that vacation feel, Meme and Bertrand gave architect Errol Barron specific requirements, including a lap pool for exercise.

"The lap pool is only 2 feet away from the porch," Bertrand says. "This makes you feel as if the house is surrounded by a river."

Architectural Design Accents
From the home's exterior and interior, there is a distinct Southern influence. "Especially because the Wilsons are native New Orleanians, I designed a home with a regional flavor," says Errol.

Wide rafters on the rear and sides of the pitched roof shade the deck. The interior walls are composed of 8-inch-square rough-hewn Spanish cedar posts attached with cross-shaped steel plates. Whitewashed walls add texture, interest, and complexity.

"Bertrand calls them the bones of the house," Errol says. "The aesthetic comes from the way it's made, the construction of the parts that make it up--a technique of reinforcing architectural style with visible, authentic construction."

 

Refreshing Living Areas
The home's exterior characteristics are a natural extension of the open and airy common areas and second story loft inside. "We worked to make the division between interior and exterior minimal," says Errol. The look of the porch deck is weathered with the use of dense trumpet tree hardwood from Paraguay and Argentina, which is similar to teak, above a bed of crushed limestone. The same wood also covers the floors throughout the interiors.

Why It Won
Here is what our judges had to say about this guesthouse and pool.

"This guesthouse has a wonderful transparency to it, particularly when it is illuminated at night and reflects on the water. The exposed structural components shine forth as well." Russell Versaci, AIA

"Wonderfully tucked away and hidden by the main house, this guesthouse and pool hold a true sense of discovery for family and friends." Cynthia Stewart, AIA, ASID