Like so many folks in New Orleans, Jared Zeller and Jennifer Pearl needed to start their lives over after Hurricane Katrina wrecked their residence in 2005. But like many other resilient residents along the Gulf Coast, the couple turned the devastation into an opportunity to create something unique.
Pearl, a realtor and Pilates teacher, and Zeller, a commercial supplier and manufacturer of Bayou Boogaloo (a free outdoor music and food festival), rebuilt their house and lives with sustainability in mind. The couple drew inspiration in the Make It Right houses going up at the Ninth Ward, also used energy-efficient materials and building methods, such as structural insulated panels (SIPs) for the exterior and solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and recycled windows, doors and hardwood floors.
But perhaps the most important sustainable strategy? Permanence. The couple built the new home 8 feet off the floor, to make it safer out of floodwater.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Jared Zeller and Jennifer Pearl
Location: Bayou St. John area of New Orleans
Size: 2,400 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths
Central to a sustainable urban lifestyle is residing within close proximity to all of life’s daily needs, and residing in the Bayou St. John area makes it possible for the couple to drive as small as possible. They bicycle to grocery stores, City Park, the French Quarter and downtown. They also walk to the fairgrounds and to Bayou St. John waterway, which is really where the Bayou Boogaloo is hauled.
The home sits on concrete piles that create space for a first-floor garage — and elevate the house above potential floodwater.
Exterior body paint: Parakeet SW 6711, Sherwin Williams; exterior trim: Muddled Basil SW 7745, Sherwin Williams; landscaping: Twin Shores
The couple, revealed here, picked the area partly for the larger lot sizes, which architect John Williams and designer Reynaldo Gonzalez used tocreate a relaxing urban yard with a pool, balcony and hammock, where Pearl and Zeller like to hang outside.
Pearl and Zeller are walking distance to the New Orleans Fair Grounds, in which the Jazz Fest is held, and also to Zeller’s Bayou Boogaloo festival. They love having folks over at their house during events such as these. “Throughout Jazz Fest we had over 100 people with a crawfish boil and barbecue,” Pearl says.
Front porches are a big deal in New Orleans. They’re part of what defines the town’s original style of structure and that which connects so many people with their acquaintances.
The architect used contemporary elements, such as a clean tubular steel railing in place of the classic Spanish-style wrought iron work that is widespread in the city.
The entryway to the home is via a security door which opens to this courtyard area roped in jasmine vines.
Material selection from the house was done with sustainability in mind, such as the living area floor, which is salvaged pine with a custom blot. The coffee table is a custom single-slab granite design by Gonzalez.
Granite: Intrepid Stone; artwork: “Night Falls,” by Maya Eventov; accent tables: custom, Plexi-Craft
The hanging Fireorb fireplace reflects the couple’s dedication to renewable details; it burns denatured alcohol rather than wood or gas.
Gonzalez made the custom made wall bit supporting the dining table from premolded bamboo flooring mounted on plywood and finished with automotive paint.
Painting: Christy Bonneau; dog bed: custom, Reynaldo Gonzalez
This dining table set was the only salvaged furniture in the couple’s flooded house. Gonzalez refurbished the bits with a custom blot and new upholstery.
Sculpture: “Giddyap,” by Wayne Salge
“With the mild weather, the screened porch is excellent for studying a novel or entertaining,” Pearl says.
Gonzalez made the tufted mattress in the main bedroom and selected the drapes, chair and ottomans.
A roof constructed of SIPs lowers total energy costs by helping keep the temperature steady even with a vaulted ceiling, an unusual feature in Louisiana homes.
Clerestory windows from the home bathroom provide lighting over both sinks as well as over the bathroom, pulling great outdoor lighting into a private area.