When Doug Kleeman went house hunting in 2012, he was drawn to a smartly renovated double-turned-single on Toledano Street in the Garden District.
“What I liked best about the house was that it had plenty of open space, but also preserved some of the shotgun floorplan,” said Kleeman, an lawyer. “I like the mix of openness and privacy.”
When the double was converted to a single by a previous owner, the center wall was removed between the front rooms on either side to create one large space. Ceilings were vaulted, exposing structural elements that have been painted white.
A den on the left and guestroom on the right follow the side-to-side living area, separated by the original center wall of the house. After baths on either side, the floor plan opens up again where the kitchen and dining room are situated.
A stripped cypress door serves as the line of demarcation between the front, public part of the house and the rear, private quarters, where the master suite is. Including a sitting room, bedroom, walk-in closet, laundry and bath, the suite provides both comfort and privacy.
On April 16 and 17, Kleeman’s house will be one of seven open to the public for the Preservation Resource Center’s annual Shotgun Home Tour.
“I really didn’t need a house quite as big as this one,” said Kleeman, noting its 1,800 square feet of living space. “Three bedrooms and three baths were a lot, so I made one of the full baths into a half-bath.”
He also removed broken concrete covering the rear yard to install slate pavers and a planting bed. Likewise, he worked with a landscaper to install a colorful garden in front of the house, which he enjoys maintaining himself.
The home’s pink exterior received several fresh coats of warm, tan paint. Carpet was removed, and the heart pine floors in the public areas of the house were stained a dark, custom color. Blue bath tile in the guest bath was replaced with white tile, and the half-bath was redesigned with glass tile walls and a marble floor.
“But I didn’t change a thing in the master bath,” Kleeman said. “It’s what sold me on the house.”
When Kleeman moved into his new home four years ago, he arrived with nothing but a bed. For the seven years prior, he had lived in a furnished apartment at First and Magazine.
“At first, I thought I would work with a designer to furnish the place because I thought I wouldn’t have time to shop for what I needed to put the house together,” Kleeman said. An early consult, however, convinced him that he would need to go it alone if the house were going to please him. “It probably took a year, but I got what I wanted.”
Seeing Kleeman’s home interior today, it is astonishing to realize he had never selected art work or accessories or furniture before. In a composition that is muted but stylish, his selections blend to create a sophisticated interior, sourced largely from local retailers.
“The red ceiling fixture and mirror table in the living room came from Eclectic Home on Oak Street. The row of theater chairs are from Discoveries, the basket from AKA Stella Gray and the paintings from Tony Mose, all on Magazine Street,” Kleeman explained. “That is what I love about living where I do: Magazine and its shops are just two blocks away, so whenever I get a little bored, I can just walk over and explore.’”
Many of Kleeman’s most unusual possessions come from far humbler sources than home design stores.
Two intriguing works on the den wall were purchased at the Frenchmen art market for a couple of bucks, then framed by Kleeman in edgy metal shadow boxes from Michael’s.
A trio of black and white photos in a hallway was discovered in a coffee shop in Houma (they are the work of a member of TARC, the Tangipahoa Parish chapter of ARC).
A shelving unit in the den was made expressly for Kleeman by a friend out of plumbing pipes and wood. Dining chairs are $100 knock-offs of $900 versions that Kleeman found online.
Although Kleeman’s home is “done” and he has every intention of staying put (“I furnished the house so I would still enjoy it 30 years from now”), temptation has a way of seeking him out.
Kleeman said, “Every now and then when I’m walking around Magazine Street, I see something and think ‘Man, I wish I still needed one of those.’”