The fashionable Warehouse District in New Orleans is becoming increasingly popular among young professionals and second home buyers such as Frank Stuart, a nurse anesthetist who moved from a spacious home on the North Shore to the recently renovated building that houses the Sugar Plantation Condominiums.
The handsome building on Tchoupitoulas Street is located next door to Emeril’s restaurant, Tommy’s Cuisine, Cochon, and Butcher, in addition to hip galleries and shops. Devier Construction handled the renovation of Stuart’s condominium unit.
Originally named the Sugar Mill because it was the site of a former sugar mill over 100 years ago, the new Sugar Plantation Condominiums have been attracting tenants looking for the old character people want in the Warehouse District, blended with the modern amenities of a new conversion. Convenient features include a private indoor parking garage in the rear of the building, a pool area with hot tub, courtyard and barbecue pit, a workout room, a party room, storage units off the lobby, security cameras, private doors, and a key fob for every resident. “It would be perfect for a ball player, with all of the privacy features,” Stuart remarks. “This building has great security.”
Besides working as a nurse anesthetist in Slidell, Stuart’s busy schedule includes condo sales with Resorts Realty in Florida, buying and selling residences in Mandeville and in the Warehouse District, and a new condominium development on the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville. “I was living in Mandeville and I was tired of the big yard, and wanted easy access to New Orleans. I entertain a lot, which is why I bought this place,” he reveals.
When Stuart first encountered the space it was just an empty warehouse. A neutral white color palette was selected to showcase his contemporary art collection by David Harouni of Harouni Gallery on Royal Street. “I had seen the artist’s work at his gallery and in other condos,” Stuart explains. Harouni’s large, neo-expressionist paintings are located throughout the condo, adding drama to the space. Harouni states of his paintings, “What does one see in the multiple faces? People often ask me who they are. My response is that they are the reflections of whoever looks into them. And thus, they are reflections of me, all of them. They are all self-portraits.” The artist’s work is on view in nearly every room of Stuart’s condo.
Aware of the acoustics involved in living on a busy city street, Stuart devised a plan. “I put shatter-proof glass so that you can’t hear the cars passing,” Stuart says. “Stained and scored concrete was used for the flooring,” he remarks. Great attention was paid to his master bedroom suite with its master bath and spacious walk-in closet adjoined to a convenient room with a washer and dryer. A 42-inch flat screen TV is mounted on the bathroom wall “so you can watch TV while taking a shower,” he explains. “I just wanted something masculine,” he says. “We spent $20,000 on the bedroom alone.” A handsome armoire and entertainment center and nightstands with fur-covered drawers by Maitland-Smith complement the masculine space.
The perfect bachelor pad for someone who loves to entertain, Stuart’s 2,350-square-foot condo has surround sound in every room (each with separate controls for TV and stereo systems) and an open floor plan featuring a combination dining room, living room, and kitchen that was designed by Bella Cucina Beautiful Kitchens and Interiors located in Mandeville.
“Frank was going for the modern industrial feel,” says Christine Brechtel, who owns Bella Cucina with her mother, Susan Brechtel. The mother-daughter team designed Stuart’s contemporary kitchen and bathrooms. “The concept was to make a very sophisticated New York loft-style space, as sleek as possible,” Susan says. Before it was put together, when we walked in, we were starting from scratch. It was an industrial site. He wanted a very sophisticated space, with tall cabinets because of the high ceilings.” Alder custom-made cabinets stained in dark walnut were installed with stainless steel handles. Similar materials were used in the bathrooms.
“Frank wanted a large kitchen counter so we had to configure the counter so that it would hold the large 36-square-feet granite top,” Susan explains. “The base is configured in a ‘T’ so that it would hold two four-foot pieces of granite back to back.” A stainless steel sink with an industrial-style faucet was installed in addition to a Thermador stainless steel refrigerator and side-by-side freezer. “There was no gas in the condo so we used a Windcrest electric pro cook-top. We were going for the stainless steel professional look throughout the area,” Susan concludes. Conveniently nestled in the corner is a cabinet-depth Ariston stainless steel built-in coffee and cappuccino maker. A full bar with refrigerator drawers, wine cooler, and ice maker is steps away from the kitchen.
“The kitchen is perfect for entertaining,” says Christine. “That’s why we used a huge island, to maximize seating for dinner parties.” Slip covered banquettes by Lee Industries were used on each side instead of bar stools to maximize seating. “It is coordinated with the rest of the furniture in the house,” she says.
To design his living area, Stuart chose Quinn Stinson of Duh for Garden and Home, located in Pensacola. “Our goal was to create a space that was high on design but still comfortable and casual,” says Stinson. “To do this we broke all the rules. We took the extremes and mixed them all up. We took hard cold surfaces and mixed them up with soft organic materials.”
The dining area has a lovely view of Tchoupitoulas Street. “The dining table was custom made by my craftsmen in Florida,” Stinson states. “The table top is made of oxidized zinc metal from old freezer shelves. The base of the table was a tree stump that we finished with a black mahogany stain and lacquered to a high gloss,” Stinson says.
“The main upholstery in the living area is a new design from Lee Industries,” Stinson discloses. “We loved the bold look of the pieces, but softened them by using slipcovers in a washable white fabric. The coffee table base was built by my metal worker in Pensacola and finished with a thick piece of bronze tinted glass to play off the rich kitchen cabinets,” he says.
The Asian console against the brick wall was found in a little village outside of Shanghai. “When I found this console last year it was painted in the traditional primary colors you normally see with varied designs on the front,” Stinson remarks. “The piece was perfect for the space, but the color was not. The only real color we wanted in the space was the art work, so we stripped the console to its natural wood and did a light ebony wax on the piece. Above the piece we put nine symmetrical mirrors together to help open the space even more.” The mirrors reflect a painting across the room, adding color and dimension to the space.
“This is great for entertaining, and I love living in the area,” Stuart concludes. “I have always wanted to do a New York style loft with enormous white walls for bold contemporary art and wide open spaces where the furniture can be appreciated for its form and design,” Stinson remarks. “This space was the perfect canvas and Frank was the perfect client to do just that.”