Greg and Manon Fakier spent two years transforming a dilapidated commercial building located on Main Street in Houma into a chic urban dwelling. The couple took great care in preserving the historic character of the century-old, 10,000-square-foot building during the extensive renovation. They decided to put their living space on the second floor, while the first floor was designed for two rental units and a four-car garage.
“My wife had the vision,” says Greg, whose family has lived in Houma for three generations. “She thought it would be a great downtown studio/loft home. She is originally from Montreal, Canada,” he explains. “We were sitting at a café across the street one day and had the idea.
Both our families are in the jewelry business. Now we are within walking distance of our business, Fakier Jeweler, plus we are close to downtown shopping and restaurants.”
Some of the more popular restaurants on and around Main Street the Fakiers enjoy include Café Dominique with its French Quarter style patio; Cristiano Ristorante; and Café Milano, an elegant Italian eatery. As the seat of Terrebonne parish, Houma abounds with good restaurants.
“Since we are on Main Street we are directly on the Mardi Gras parade route,” explains Greg. “We can watch all the parades from our balcony.” Houma boasts the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana.
Since the Fakier’s balcony overlooks the parades, they host several parties during the two-week Carnival season. “When we built the balcony for the patio, we followed the suggestions of the National Historic Register so that it has the look of the period. This building is 109 years old,” Greg comments.
The couple wanted an interesting environment to entertain their family and friends, so they created a great room that combines the living, dining, and kitchen areas. For added interest, old movie seats were gleaned from a theater in Houma. “There are places underneath the seats where people can put their hats,” Greg explains. “This was done in the old days.”
A 1,500-square-foot patio, which is directly over the garage, serves as an outdoor living area. “There is a metal roof over the patio, so it is fun to sit outside during a rain storm and listen to the rain falling on the roof,” he reveals.
“When we were putting in the drainage for the patio, the plumber found many old bottles while digging the trenches, so we have them on display. This was once a drug store,” Greg says. “There are hundreds of them. This also used to be a photographer’s studio so we found photographer’s bottles with solution in them as well.” The building was formerly a jewelry store and a hat store as well.
“In the game room, my wife had the idea to put up a chalk board. It consumes two full walls,” Greg says. “Everybody who has visited us has put their art and graffiti on there. It’s full. We can’t erase any of it, everything is a memory. We also have memorabilia on the ceiling, including jewelry memorabilia from both sides of our family.” The colorful game room is anchored by a pool table and a bar.
The Fakiers faced various challenges during the initial renovation. “When we bought the building, the master bedroom area was a wreck,” Greg discloses. “We had water damaged wood all over the place. We took the floor up in that room and used it in the repairs of the entire place.
Then we used long leaf pine that we pulled off of the brick walls for the floors in the master bedroom. When we sacrificed the floor in the master bedroom, it gave us the wood we needed to repair the rest of the house. So it was a repositioning of the wood everywhere. Everything here is original to the building,” he says. “Also, all the windows were bricked in, so we had to bust them out and recreate the windows. Now we have plenty of natural light.”
The stairway presented a challenge as well. “The stairway was wobbly and very much of a hazard,” Greg explains. “We made it wider in the back of the building. Now you enter from the patio. That is the main entrance. The elevator needed to be cleaned up and we brought it back to life after being dormant for 20 years. It is great for carrying groceries upstairs. We use it all the time. We love to cook for our friends.”
After a two year renovation, the Fakiers are enjoying their loft and have come to appreciate the various amenities of living on Main Street. “It’s so nice living in town,” Greg surmises. “It’s very peaceful, especially at night. There is no grass, so we are in a mosquito-free environment, and we are within walking distance of everything including our business,” he says. “I would have never done it by myself. It was my wife’s vision, it was her idea.”