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Sliding Into Home Base: Famed ballplayer returns to his roots

25 May 2013 | Author: | No Comments »

47-1Former Major League baseball infielder Todd Walker and his wife, Katie, had the privilege of living in many American cities during an illustrious sports career that was launched in the 1990s at LSU, when Todd led the Tigers to their 1993 national championship. The popular ballplayer earned the College World Series Most Outstanding Player award, and in July, he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

With 107 home runs and a batting average of .289, Todd made his Major League debut with the Minnesota Twins and played for teams including the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Red Sox (his five post-season homers are still a Red Sox record), the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the San Diego Padres, and the Oakland A’s, where he parlayed his final post.

Two years ago, the Walkers left the Major League life and decided to settle in Shreveport because of their family ties and the city’s attractive amenities. “In the off-season, you would go to live wherever you choose and we always came back to Louisiana because our families were here,” Katie points out.

When Todd retired from the majors, he moved his family into their handsome three-story home after an extensive renovation that followed its purchase. “I like the people here,” Todd explains. “Shreveport has just about everything you want to do, including fishing, skiing, and other water sports. There are casinos down the river, there is a lot of entertainment here, and there are good restaurants that you don’t have five hour waits like you do in big cities,” he says. “For me, having been pretty much everywhere in the country, Shreveport is ideal.”

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“We loved the property,” says Katie. “The house was actually a bonus,” she notes. “It is four and a half acres right in the middle of Shreveport. The front is covered in trees so you can’t see the house from the road, and we have a beautiful view from the great room,” she says. “The house is very contemporary, which I love, and it has many original features, including the glass in the back, with sliding glass doors that open onto a small patio. We can look out at the pond and the trees.” During the renovation, the Walkers added a patio and a theater room to the side of the house, which Katie lovingly refers to as a “man cave” for its cool temperature and dark setting.

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The Walkers engaged Robert Harrell, an interior decorator and an associate of the Bungalow, for the redesign of their home. “It was formerly a Brady Bunch-style home with every cliché from the 60s and 70s,” Harrell says. “We transformed it into a home with clean contemporary lines and a daring, intriguing personality. It features open spaces with eye-raising heights and soaring slate walls in warm tones of gray, raw umber, and rust.”

Because of the splendid view through a wall of glass in the great room, Katie chose to forego window treatments and set about deciding on a neutral color palette. The oversized cream neutral tile flooring that Harrell helped Katie select blends seamlessly with the cream bisque walls in the living area and foyer, accentuating the hand-finished silver metallic ceiling beams that have been glazed and antiqued.

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For visual interest, Harrell created a design in the flooring of the foyer. “The foyer floor features diagonally laid tile framed within rows of black slate and contrasting mosaic tile,” he says. Directly off the entrance is a study that was conceptualized by Todd. “He wanted it all wood and Robert came up with the look,” Katie says. “It is very masculine, with all wood paneling except for one wall, which is slate.” Paneled in a rich mahogany, the study is appointed with a silver-clad mirror on the ceiling, leather upholstery, suede window treatments, and sports memorabilia. Three flat screen TVs were installed for the viewing of multiple sports events. “I thought it would be nice to watch sports on mute, while my wife and kids are watching something else,” Todd remarks.

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From the cathedral-height ceilings to the shimmering fountain and mesmerizing view, the Walker’s great room serves as a magnet for entertaining and family gatherings. A pool and an outdoor kitchen complete with a large flat screen TV further enhance the popular couple’s ability to entertain their many guests.

Palm-bladed ceiling fans were added in the living area and guest rooms, lending “an exotic aspect,” Harrell notes. “The whole idea was to give it a clean contemporary look while conveying a semblance of tradition. I wanted to give a great vertical presence in the living area because there is a soaring cathedral ceiling with silver burnished beams located around the room, and slate tile columns. This gives you a wonderful vertical presence,” he adds.

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“From the beginning, we moved from Colorado and we were thinking more of a mountain lodge, but it went in a different direction,” Katie reveals. “We went to spring training in Phoenix and there was a dream home there and it had slate. So that is why we have a three-story slate wall at the entry and a slate fireplace. We chose the cream color because the slate is dark and we wanted to brighten the living area,” she says. A cream colored sectional adorns the living room. “I was trying to create something that would be durable for the children and also comfortable,” she explains.

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A loft rises above the great room, affording a lovely view of the pond. An equally beautiful view of the pond and wooded area is provided in the great room due to the glass that goes across the entire back of the house, adding drama to the open floor plan. “In the great room near the dining area, we can turn on the fountain while we are having dinner parties, and water runs down the wall into a little pool,” Katie comments. The water descends from the fountain over an iridescent glass mosaic tile backsplash, and pours into a slate-encased basin that Harrell designed. “I just wanted a strong focal point. The shimmering water is relaxing and visually stimulating,” he explains.

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The theater room (formerly a two-car garage) is appointed with a large sofa on a platform and three large bean bag chairs. “The kids jump from the bean bags to the sofa. It’s really fun,” says Katie. “My husband designed the ‘cave’ and the wine room,” she reveals. “We keep it at about 65 degrees,” notes Todd. “It’s nice to get in when it’s 105 degrees outside. We can watch TV on the 130-inch screen, enjoy You Tube, do karaoke, and connect to the internet.”

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The Walker’s dreamy master bedroom rendered in an aqua haze color is complemented by ice blue suede bedding with ample pillows that are trimmed in feathers, fringe, and fur. Drama reigns with a French antique glass flame shade and a star-shaped collar of crystals at the apex of a silver leaf and putty washed tip. An oversized crystal chandelier with a burnished gold frame hangs over the bed, and the room is further illuminated by New Orleans-style sconces from Flambeau that were designed by lighting stylist Paul Gruer. Suede draperies with a quiet jewel-encrusted trim border by Sandy Chapman of Evangeline Drapery are gracefully mounted on rods with a matt black finish and a gold tone flourish at the center point of the rod, with antique silver finials as accents. “What I wanted in the master bedroom was something sleek and sexy, modern and understated, with clean lines,” Harrell remarks.

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The stunning master bath is appointed with diagonally laid tile that is framed in crushed glass mosaic tile by Barry’s Quality Tile and Marble Company. “The piece de resistance is the shower, with its frameless glass enclosure and tumble marble tile sidewalls and a ceiling with a tumble marble crown molding,” Harrell notes. Faux silk draperies behind the Jacuzzi tub styled with platinum ball and claw feet serve as a backdrop to soften the sleek space. “I wanted something soothing, elegant, and provocative,” Harrell explains.

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The upstairs children’s playroom is enlivened with orange walls, red doors, and a lime green ceiling complete with silver tone beams. “The small-scale oil paintings recall a playful night at the circus—how appropriate!” exclaims Harrell. “The lime green chairs look like big hands,” says Katie.

From the enthralling great room with its sweeping view to the romantic master suite and the playful children’s quarters, Todd and Katie Walker’s home echoes the love and harmony of a young family embracing a joyful existence in the heart of Shreveport.

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