Jennifer and Sheldon Strasner did the almost impossible — they built a new home and had fun doing it.
The Strasners purchased a lot off Highland Road in Majestic Oaks and then, before any actual construction, built their team, including an architect, landscape designer and interior designer right from the start.
“We had a lot of good people,” Jennifer Strasner said. “It was actually an enjoyable process.”
The Strasners knew they wanted a Greek Revival-style house, and brought in landscape designer Michael Hopping, who helped select the home’s site on the lot.
“He set it at an angle to take advantage of the views,” Jennifer Strasner said.
The couple selected New Orleans architect George Hopkins to design the home because, she said, “He is very good with scale, which is so important with Greek Revival.”
From the beginning, the couple worked with interior designer Julie Stander, who is now deceased, and contractor Terry Honore.
The design Hopkins developed is both traditional and modern. The rooms are large and the ceilings a full 14 feet downstairs and 10 feet upstairs. The areas are tied together with beautiful oak floors.
“The trend today is to have four rooms in one — living room, dining room, kitchen and den,” Strasner said. “I like to cook a lot, but I thought it would be difficult to have a huge kitchen and the dining room and the living room all in one room.”
Hopkins tied the whole public area together with an expansive foyer that opens to the living room on the right, the dining room on the left and the den at the back. The kitchen is completely separate, although it has entries to both a breakfast room behind the foyer and the dining room.
Separate from the kitchen, but easily accessible, is a large butler’s pantry with designed storage for silver, china and crystal.
A hall from the kitchen leads to a narrow family utility area, which opens to an herb garden, designed by Hopping as a traditional French parterre.
The utility area includes the laundry room, a bathroom, a storage area with personalized hooks for the children, and large drawers for dirty shoes and beach towels.
A pool, screened porch, slate porch and garage patio are all part of the back area of the house, which is landscaped with citrus trees, holly, boxwood and roses.
The elegant stairway from the foyer and a back stairway from the kitchen area both lead to the upstairs, which was designed for the Strasner children, who are now grown. Daughter Helen’s bedroom is done in feminine pinks and greens, while sons Bert and Ned have rooms in browns and navies.
“Julie said khakis and blue jeans for their colors,” Strasner said.
Each bedroom has its own attic, and there is also a large, very accessible main attic.
The Strasners are huge fans of 19th-century architect Henry Howard, who designed many of the fine homes and buildings in New Orleans and other parts of the state. Howard is the subject of a book written by Robert S. Brantley and Jan White Brantley with Victor McGee and published this year by the Historic New Orleans Collection and Princeton Architectural Press.
In designing the home, Hopkins incorporated many architectural elements used by Howard in his work.
“Looking in the book, I even found one of the old documented (wall) papers that we used in our dining room,” Jennifer Strasner said.