It was the "humongous" room upstairs that sold Billy and Susan Maxwell on the house.
Downstairs, the home was pretty traditional pre-World War II Baton Rouge-style, with a living room, dining room, kitchen and three bedrooms. Upstairs were two tiny bedrooms, a bath and that big open space that held so many possibilities.
“All we did was add walls to make rooms,” Susan Maxwell said. “It already had nice hardwood floors.”
The couple moved into the Glenmore Place home on Halloween Day 2002 with their three young daughters — Anna Claire, Isabelle and new baby Lucy.
“We did the work while we lived here,” Susan Maxwell said. “We lived downstairs while we finished the upstairs, and then we all moved upstairs and redid the downstairs.”
Working with architect Cindy Stewart, the Maxwells made the upstairs into three bedrooms for the girls and relocated walls to create one large bath. The remaining space became closets and a playroom, with a sewing nook for Susan, who loves sewing . For extra storage, the Maxwells took advantage of a large amount of floored attic space around each bedroom.
In the downstairs rejuvenation, the Maxwells added a wall of bookcases in the living room and converted two small bedrooms into a master suite with a large master bath and closets. They relocated the tiny laundry room from under the staircase to an area between the kitchen and master bedroom.
“The (original) laundry room was so little that I had to lean in to put the clothes in the washer,” Susan Maxwell said.
After they had lived in the home for several years, the Maxwells began thinking about adding a family room. They sat on plans drawn by architect Billie Brian for years, trying to figure a way to add the extra space without changing the look of the exterior.
“I kept telling Billie that this house is symmetrical,” Susan Maxwell said. “I didn’t want an addition that looked added on.”
About three years ago, Brian arrived with a sketch that was the perfect solution.
The Maxwells added two rooms — the anticipated family room and a screened porch with two full walls of West Indies shutters, a large fireplace and an outdoor kitchen. The two adjoining rooms span the entire width of the house from front to back.
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The addition changed everything.
The Maxwells created a wide opening between the kitchen and the new family room and added two sets of double French doors, one separating the dining room from the screened porch and a second set between the family room and the porch. For football parties and other gatherings, the Maxwells open all the doors to create a perfect flow through the entire downstairs public areas.
“It just made the house,” Susan Maxwell said. “It’s awesome during football season.”
Even though the large porch is open to the outside, the Maxwells installed enough air-conditioning and vents in the family room to compensate for the extra heat in the open porch. The rooms are painted soft neutral whites to reflect the light that pours through the windows.
“The key to this house is that every room has a set of double windows,” she said.
Although Susan Maxwell loves to fix up and redo things herself, she often relies on her childhood friend Jennifer Price, designer and events coordinator at Dixon Smith Interiors. Price helps with the big things, while Susan Maxwell is always on the lookout for street finds, estate sales and bargains for her home projects and for fixing up apartments and dorm rooms for her two older daughters.
“I am always changing things,” she said.