After living almost 15 years in their 1940s-vintage Hundred Oaks home, Charlie and Carole Lamar had to face the dilemma of the old home — completely renovate or tear it down and start over.
Theirs was one of architect A. Hays Town’s early projects, but it had a small kitchen, small bathrooms and few closets. Still, it was a magnificent home situated on a beautiful piece of property crowned with nine glorious live oaks.
For the Lamars, the only option was to renovate.
They had no idea the project would be so big, and that they would be in temporary quarters, just a few houses down the street, for almost four years.
“We took the house down to the studs,” Carole Lamar said. “We have new walls, new floors, new siding, all new air conditioning and heat, all new electricity.”
Builder Dan Stari, an expert in historic homes renovations, did the project, which turned out to have a number of ugly surprises. The old 1940s wiring was not up to code and required a complete redo. The floors, which seemed soft in some areas, had to be replaced from the joists up. There were metal chutes in the walls, probably from some earlier central air conditioning, and registers in the floors that had to be removed.
New Orleans architects Errol Barron and Steve Olson came up with a plan to quadruple the size of the original kitchen by removing a butler’s pantry and old laundry room and adding a new laundry room. The beautiful new kitchen has wood floors, a large center island, new appliances and cabinets, including a full wall of display cabinets, and windows with a view to the perfectly landscaped backyard.
The Lamars did very little to the configuration of the more public rooms, but updated everything and even raised the height of all of the door openings.
The front door opens to a spacious hall, which leads through a wide entrance to the sitting room/breakfast area.
To the right of the hall is an elegant stairway, and on the left is a very traditional dining room. The large living room with a wall of windows overlooking the pool area is to the left of the dining room.
The master suite is off the kitchen area behind the entrance hall. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a study and two full baths.
Ellen Kennon, an expert in paints and finishes, selected a neutral palette of colors as a background for fabrics recommended by designers Helaine Moyse and Patrick Tandy.
The home is filled with antiques, including several family pieces interspersed with contemporary accessories and an occasional mid-century modern piece. The Lamars’ collection of art is displayed throughout the home.
Several years earlier, the Lamars purchased the lot behind their home to give them privacy and access from the back. The extra lot served as the staging area for the work.
Landscape designer Ryan Cole tied the project together to create a lush parklike setting using the home’s old swimming pool, now restored, and a completely renovated pool house as focal areas around walkways, plantings and yard sculptures.
Through the entire project, the Lamars were adamant that their beautiful live oaks not be disturbed, and they even changed the design of their new garage and master bath so they would not harm the roots of one of the majestic trees.
“We tried to do the work without damage to the trees,” Carole Lamar said.