Darryl Gissel's vintage Arts and Crafts home was built in Spanish Town in the early part of the 20th century.

Many of the similar homes in the neighborhood have been modified to reflect more modern styles, but Gissel's home is decorated to reflect the Arts and Crafts revival that stressed traditional craftsmanship and simple forms in architecture and décor. 


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The home was built as a duplex in 1919 by Clay Templet, who lived there with his family. Years later, it was purchased by the Fred Blanche family, and a son, Robert, lived there while he was in college. He later moved back to the home, and, with his former wife, Rebecca, undertook a major renovation that included an outdoor kitchen.

Gissel bought the house about 2000 and began finishing the renovation started by the Blanches.

"They had gotten tired of renovators, so they told them to leave," said Gissel, who kept the main footprint but removed some walls and opened things up.

The two front doors open to a long hall that leads to the living room on the right and the staircase to the second floor on the left.

"In modern houses, people don't want these big hallways," Gissel said, "but in older houses they are part of the living space."

Working with designer David Edwards, Gissel painted the living room a camel color to pick up tones in the patterned brick fireplace. A curved conversation sofa sits in a bay with windows on the front of the house. Draperies are in a traditional style with a pattern from the archives of William Morris, the famous English textile designer associated with the Arts and Crafts movement.

Other furniture in the room is an eclectic mix of period and Asian styles.

"I really like Arts and Crafts," Gissel said, "but it's really hard to live with just Arts and Crafts furniture. This house is a mixture."

Gissel opened up a downstairs bedroom to create a nice-size dining room adjacent to the living room. The walls of the dining room are more of an ochre color to complement fine draperies that were in the home when Gissel purchased it. He removed a small closet at the back of the room to find, stuffed in the wall, the original owner's wallet, keys, a Standard Oil identification card, bus tokens, World War II ration coupons and a little money.

"The Templet's daughter, Carolyn Broussard, came to the house one day. She told me that her father kept valuables on a little ledge in the closet," Gissels said. "I returned to her the things that must have fallen behind the wall from that ledge."

The hall opens to the breakfast room, originally the dining room, with a bedroom on the right.

The modern kitchen features a wide opening that leads to a small porch on the left and a patio, outdoor kitchen and guesthouse at the back.

"The indoor kitchen is open to the outdoor kitchen," Gissel said. "That's what makes it work. If the weather is nice, we open everything up."

The home also has a front gallery, upstairs balcony and a balcony over the outdoor area at the back.

"While it's not a lot of yard, we have a lot of outdoor space," he said.

Upstairs are three bedrooms, although Gissel doesn't use them all as bedrooms. The front room, with the same bay windows as the living room, is a comfortable sitting room with its own balcony.

"It's like a tree house," Gissel said. "If you really squint over the rooftops, on a clear day, you can see the steeple from St. Joseph Cathedral. On a strong, windy day, you can hear the flag flapping on top of the Capitol."

Gissel is a big supporter of the rebirth of downtown Baton Rouge, where he has lived and worked for decades.

"You can walk anywhere to do anything you want," he said. "Hunt Hearin, (longtime downtown advocate), before he died, said what was going to happen downtown would be far beyond what anyone expected."