When Mark Schroeder and Tara Engeran built their home on Killdeer Street in Lake Terrace in 2017, they were determined that it express a modern sensibility.
“We already lived in the neighborhood and were really happy when the lot went on the market,” said Schroeder, an architect. “It was a terrific opportunity to design and build the house I had always wanted.”
Today, the couple’s thoroughly modern home is a standout in a neighborhood of mostly low-slung ranch houses. Whereas lawns grow in front of other homes, Schroeder has a forecourt of river stone separated by a geometric grid of concrete.
Other homes are one or two stories tall, but Schroeder’s rises three floors above grade. Forget about the typical red brick that sheaths the neighbors’ homes: This one is covered in stone.
And the shape? It’s almost as if a scientist took a ranch house and programmed it to deconstruct, then reconstruct itself, so that it transforms into a taller, more complex, mightier new genre of building.
Maybe that's why the house was chosen as the location for a locally-shot TV ad for the hit movie “Bumblebee.” The commercial (see it on YouTube) features two giants in their fields: the heroic Transformer voiced by Dylan O’Brien and (Super Bowl bound?) New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
As Brees stands in front of the Schroeder/Engeran house musing about awakening Christmas morn to the best present ever, the vintage yellow Volkswagen bug to his right suddenly transforms into the superhero, while Brittany Brees and the children look on in wonder from the living room window.
The Breeses arrived early on the morning of filming, and Engeran and Schroeder lingered to meet them. The commercial was finished by late afternoon.
“They could not have been more gracious or charming,” Engeran said. “They are the perfect family.”
Schroeder and Engeran embarked on the project of building the house in 2017 as a partnership in which Schroeder would design the building and Engeran would select the interior finishes and furnishings.
Schroeder's program called for the first floor, a ground-level floor, to serve a utilitarian purpose, as it connects the both to the main entry and to the garage. It contains a home office, a guest room, and a studio for Engeran, a yoga teacher.
A quasi-industrial metal staircase leads from the first floor to main living areas on the second. As visitors ascend the steps, they are greeted by a flood of light from the glass walls of the second floor.
With higher ceilings, the second floor is home to an airy open floor plan in which the living and dining areas flow into one another and into the kitchen. Two bedrooms at one end of the floor are reserved for the couple’s adult children.
According to Engeran, finding the precisely correct shade of white for the walls was a tricky proposition.
“The goal was for all of the shades of white to blend together and for the wall color to unite them,” she said. “We must have tried dozens before we found one that would work with the marble floors, the countertops and the kitchen cabinets.”
Furnishings have a midcentury modern feel and the art work (purchased by the couple when traveling) complements it well. The vivid colors in a Barbie portrait, for example, lend a bit of playfulness to the décor, as does the flowered tile backsplash that Tara chose for the open kitchen.
Dazzling light fixtures were acquired on the couple’s frequent trips to Los Angeles, where Schroeder and other members of the family have second homes.
Climbing the stairs to the third floor, one leaves behind the bright world and dramatic volumes of the second floor for a more intimate arrangement of spaces.
“Mark designed the house so that our bedroom would be on the third floor to give us the feeling of it being in the clouds,” Engeran said.
One of the most important design elements on the third floor is the terrace that affords the couple the opportunity to spend evenings together outside, watching sunsets and catching the breeze from Lake Pontchartrain.
“I like the feeling of being up in the tree tops,” said Schroeder of his aerie.
Schroeder has actively marketed the house to filming companies, so don't be surprised if the angular Lakefront home shows up in other commercials seeing a modern feel.
“It was important to me that the house be modern, rather than contemporary,” he said, drawing a distinction between the aesthetic and principles of the mid-20th century and those of architecture today.
“In true modernism, a home must exist in harmony with its surroundings. It's about proportions, materials and a relationship between the interior and the exterior. It's a way of living.”
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