Joel and Melanie Safer live in a home for two that accommodates more than 20.
That was the only way Melanie Safer would agree to move some 10 years ago when the couple decided to downsize.
With their blended family of four grown children and their spouses along with 11 grandchildren, they still wanted a house big enough to handle the comings and goings of their group.
“Melanie would not move unless we built a house that could accommodate everyone,” said Joel Safer, a retired dentist and associate clinical professor in the Residency Program in the LSU School of Dentistry. It took a lot of planning and a year of building, but the Safers ended up with exactly what they wanted — a Jamestowne Court townhouse with very little maintenance but one big enough to celebrate holidays and special occasions with their whole family.
“We built this house with the grandkids in mind. We want them to be at home in every room in the house,” Joel Safer said.
The Safers also built something that could be adapted for their senior years. There are wide halls, walk-in showers and a plan to easily turn an exercise room and an adjoining storage area into a suite for a live-in caretaker.
“We tried to plan ahead,” said Melanie Safer, who owns and operates Pampos in Towne Center. “We made it to be able to live in it a long time.”
The house is not small, but it is smaller than their two previous houses.
“It was important to me to have the same size pantry, the same size closet and the same size living room as we had in our last house,” she said.
Working with interior designer Jo Emmert, the Safers planned the rooms for the rugs and furniture they already had.
“We had to get rid of a lot of stuff,” Melanie Safer said. “We got new sofas for the living room, but that was basically it.”
Family friends Lynda and Nat Maestri, who had updated their Stones Throw home, were unofficial advisers. “They helped out so much,” Melanie Safer said. “Their advice was so good.”
The front entrance of the home opens to a small foyer that leads to a large living room. The dining room is to the right. Opening to both rooms is a modern kitchen with walls and cabinets in a soothing neutral color. A narrow hall from the back of the living room has built-in bookcases filled with antique books on the right and doors that conceal a small study area on the left.
Behind the kitchen is the downstairs playroom with a karaoke machine and a closet filled with toys and games. “It is all dedicated to the grandchildren,” Joel Safer said.
The master suite contains two bathrooms, a necessity rather than a luxury, Joel Safer said.
“Ever since they day we were married, we have had separate bathrooms,” he said with a laugh. “I’m a neatnik.”
“And I’m rather messy,” she added.
Upstairs are two traditional bedrooms and a long, narrow room the Safers’ contractor called “the bowling alley.” Outfitted with bunk beds with trundles, the “dormitory” is decorated with large photos of all of the grandchildren.
The home is surrounded with neighborhood common areas, which are planted as courtyards. Because they are on a corner, the Safers have an extra 20- by 30-foot common-area strip onto which they moved a fountain they had two houses ago when they lived on Boyce Drive.
Most visitors enter the home through a narrow French-style courtyard at the back.
“We studied a lot of old New Orleans courtyards, and then Aaron Roy sent us a picture of a courtyard in France,” Joel Safer said. “It’s what we used for the design.”
Even though Melanie Safer says they took her kicking and screaming to Jamestowne Court, she is happy that she moved.
“The exteriors are maintained,” she said. “We don’t have to do a whole lot.”