Clint and Amy Nunez, owners of Cain Construction and Designs, spent several years hunting for a home with renovation potential and a nice outdoor living space while residing in the historic Warehouse District of New Orleans. They had both grown up in rural areas of Louisiana with plenty of land to enjoy. Clint was raised in St. Bernard Parish, and Amy grew up in Arnaudville. Their objective was to find an ideal place to create their dream home for a growing family, with a spacious outdoor living area reminiscent of their collective childhoods.
“We wanted our daughters to have the luxury of an open outdoor space to play and grow with other children,” Amy says. “The property we ended up finding in Lake Vista gave us the best of both worlds, being minutes away from downtown New Orleans, yet with the feel of peaceful country living with all the modern conveniences a city has to offer.”
When the couple finally found a suitable house and setting in Lake Vista, they knew the structure would have to undergo dramatic changes. The original Cape Cod-style house had sustained damage during hurricane Katrina and had not been occupied since.
“Clint put his creative vision to work and dramatically transformed the architectural style by adding various architectural elements and working as much as possible with the existing lines, which was no easy task,” Amy says. “His French Country architectural design completely exceeded my expectations and made the home truly unique and a reflection of our personal style. We made a conscious decision to primarily use green materials in the reconstruction process.” An accomplished designer, Amy handled the interior design aspect of the renovation, in addition to creating some of the unique furnishings in the home.
“When designing the concept for the interior, my goal was to create a glamorous but livable modern style that would remain ageless,” she says. “I selected a neutral color palette made up of soft grays, blue-greens, and pure white throughout the home. I wanted the design to remain clean and sophisticated with a touch of whimsy. I would describe my design aesthetic as transitional; I gravitate towards refined classic pieces, but I love to incorporate uncomplicated, contemporary elements to add interest.”
The kitchen design was paramount. “It was a very important part of the design process for us because we enjoy entertaining friends and family on a regular basis, and my husband is an amazing cook,” Amy points out. “Clint owned a restaurant in the French Quarter when we first met, so he was accustomed to cooking in a commercial kitchen. He strategically created a very open, high-performance floor plan centered around an expansive, functioning island that houses an ice maker, a warming drawer, a microwave oven, and plenty of storage,” she says.
A trio of crystal chandeliers illuminates the island, which was designed to accommodate multiple cooks and guest seating. Custom cabinetry with a custom paint finish by Cain Construction was blended to complement the Calacatta Gold marble backsplash, countertops, and flooring. The dual-fuel Thermador range is surrounded by pull-outs that are utilized for cooking and spices, as well as storage.
The dining area in the kitchen was designed around a 72-inch round custom tabletop crafted of American walnut wood by Cain Construction; a decorative flourish was added with an ornate iron base. “Clint and I are in the process of designing a furniture line made locally with reclaimed materials. We plan to launch the line in late spring of 2012,” Amy points out.
Beautiful curved benches covered in ivory leather are utilized for seating. The dining area is enhanced by 19th-century French Empire crystal wall sconces that are complemented with an abstract painting by local New Orleans artist Jennifer Ansardi, one of Amy’s favorite regional artists.
“I love the visual effect created by the juxtaposition of a piece of modern abstract art with the French antique sconces,” Amy remarks. In the process of crafting the seating area, Amy selected the round table shape and bench-style seating to accommodate a large number of family and friends while still maintaining an intimate feel.
The stunning living room area in the 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Nunez home is a sight to behold, especially during the holiday season. “Our informal living area was designed as a conversation area to gather around the stone fireplace,” Amy says. A cream velvet sofa and chair embellished with chenille bullion trim provides the main seating in the room. The sofa is flanked by a round vintage side table of gold metal and glass and a round antique mahogany occasional table. A rectangular mahogany coffee table offers both form and function by adding warmth against the stone fireplace backdrop.
The sheared Douglas Fir Christmas tree that Amy decorated with her mother is gracefully positioned near two hand-carved gold gilt Louis XIV armchairs. The festive tree is adorned with a combination of heirloom vintage ornaments and new ornaments collected from the homeowners’ travels. “This year, I selected a bronze and gold color scheme and incorporated bronzed feather garlands throughout the tree and on the mantel to add a touch of glamour,” Amy says. “I do all my decorating with the help of my mother and sister. Some of my best Christmas memories include watching my mother decorate our family Christmas tree and home, as well as my grandmother’s home, every holiday season. She would design lavish, elegant trees with a different theme and color scheme each year. Due to my mother’s inspiration, I have carried that tradition over into my own home and hope to pass it along to my two daughters someday.”
The dining room is anchored by a custom one-of-a-kind dining room table designed by Amy and made by Cain Construction and Designs. Constructed of two concrete bases that make up a trio of antique columns, it is crowned with a custom Spanish cedar wood top. Two round metal chandeliers with a soft gold finish and crystal accents are centered over the table, while a large painting adorned with gold leaf and embellished with hues of turquoise adds a pop of color in the room.
For the master bedroom, Amy chose a black and white upholstered headboard as a dramatic focal point. “The polished chrome Chanel lamp added a touch of high style and instant glamour,” she notes. A sheepskin rug adds warmth and texture to the setting.
Amy designed a custom upholstered headboard with nail head trim for their young daughter Isabella’s bedroom. The bed is adorned with fine English linens. Amy also designed the mercury glass lamps that reside on custom-made bedside tables embellished with intricately detailed Swarovski crystal hardware. A contemporary wool rug adds a playful touch of color and interest. “The theme was whimsical glamour that would grow with her, allowing our daughter to eventually incorporate her own color preferences as her individual style develops.”
The guest bedroom is appointed with an antique bed with custom upholstery and vintage clear glass lamps resting on custom, one-of-a-kind bedside tables designed by Amy and crafted by Cain Construction. She selected an antique mahogany armoire from the historic Mississippi Delta Queen riverboat for the room. “I wanted to create a warm, welcoming, and serene space for our guests to enjoy during their visits,” Amy notes.
Clint and Amy also own a grand 7,000-square-foot home in Arnaudville that they have been gradually renovating for the past several years. “It has been on hold due to our very busy schedule, working with a number of commercial and residential construction projects in the city,” she points out. “We really just want to enjoy the fruits of our labor and relax in our new home for now.”
This year during the holidays, Amy and Clint will be including the newest addition to their family, their four-month-old baby girl, in all the festivities. “My entire family will be traveling to New Orleans to join us for the elegant holiday jazz brunch at the Roosevelt Hotel. It’s a family tradition that the children look forward to every year.”