Bodo and Kitty Claus live in a house that is anything but traditional. No stately columns, no verandas, no parlors and no live oaks.
“It’s a very unBaton Rouge house,” says Kitty Claus of the couple’s Meadow Lea residence.
Twelve years ago, the Clauses, retired architects and empty nesters, were looking for a smaller home.
“We picked this one for the lot,” says Kitty Claus of the property that ends at the irregular shoreline of a small private lake. “The shoreline is our favorite thing.”
The house, built in 1960, was designed by an architect from California.
“It was brown, that redwood color, with yellow bricks,” Kitty Claus says. “They had these high little windows out front.”
The Clauses, who for many years had a vacation home in the Florida Keys, redesigned their Baton Rouge home with tropical influences. They covered the little windows and decorative tiles below with Bahama shutters they bought in Key West.
“We brought them back on the top of the car — the Claus way,” says Bodo Claus, who grew up in Germany and came to Baton Rouge in 1956 to study architecture at LSU.
They changed every surface inside, except the pine ceilings, which have exposed beams. To open up the main living area, they removed a partition that separated the kitchen from the living room. They covered exposed brick and concrete block with Sheetrock and painted all of the walls a soothing white.
“It changed the whole look,” Kitty Claus says. “It made everything so light.”
Bodo Claus completely redesigned the kitchen with granite countertops, modern appliances and a wall of fitted drawers built by Doucet’s Custom Woodworks. “We bought a lot of drawer handles,” Bodo Claus says.
The dining room, which opens to the living room at an angle, is one of the home’s most interesting spaces.
“It follows the lot line,” he says. “The lot is triangular.” The Clauses often use their dining room to work, with their files hidden away in two handmade cabinets that look like fine contemporary furniture.
The biggest change was in the master bedroom and bathroom, which were enlarged by robbing the space from a smaller adjoining bedroom. They connected the new master bath to the original powder room, which is still used as a powder room while adding to the functionality of the new bathroom.
One whole side of the long hall that leads from the living room to the master bedroom is now storage and a small laundry area hidden by louver doors.
In every room of the house, except for the bathrooms, the floors are laminates that looks like wood and require little maintenance. They look, the owners say, exactly like they did when they were installed 12 years ago.
“The floors are the best part of the house,” Bodo Claus says.
The home is decorated with Mid-Century Modern furniture including many pieces handmade by Bodo Claus.
“I developed a style of glass and old restored cypress,” he says. “Most of the wood came out of old buildings that have been torn down.”
As a natural extension to the living room, the Clauses added a deck with a synthetic wood floor and painted aluminum hand rails, making it maintenance free.
The yard has recently been completely landscaped in a natural tropical style by landscape architect Eduardo Jenkins. It includes areas of low-maintenance plantings, a chest-level herb garden, a little boat dock built by Bodo Claus and a statue of two spouting whales.
“There is a view of the lake out of every window,” Kitty Claus says. “It’s a small yard, but it’s all you need.”