When Catherine Makk began her New Orleans house hunt, she knew when she entered the Garden District and turned onto Toledano Street that she had found her next home.
Built around 1904, 1434 Toledano St. was constructed alongside a near-identical house on the block; the surrounding area had begun to be developed in the late 1890s and the Toledano houses were a part of the expansion of the Garden District to Louisiana Street. From its first owners, large and active families inhabited and enjoyed the property: in the 1920s, Judge Lawrence O’Donnell, one of New Orleans best-known and best-loved citizens at the time, lived in the house with his wife Elizabeth Chenneville O’Donnell and their six children. In 1923, the home served as wedding venue for the family’s youngest daughter and just one year later, it would also be the site of Judge O’Donnell’s funeral. In the decades that followed, like many Garden District residences, 1434 Toledano was used as a boarding house, and was ultimately returned to a single residence home sometime in the 1980s, at which time subsequent owners made significant renovations and appropriate modernizations.
What appealed most to the new buyer were the historic Victorian elements of the home. The 12-foot ceilings, original egg-and-dart moldings and period medallions and woodwork were intact and in pristine condition. “The house had fantastic bones, great energy, and frankly, was ‘move-in ready,’” Makk said. To put her own imprint on the home, Makk enlisted local designer and longtime friend Grace Kaynor of Grace W. Kaynor Designs to elevate the aesthetic of the space and create an individual and intimate space.
With a common vision and commitment to the values of Victorian architecture, the two embarked on what they liken to a “makeover on a beautiful woman.” Tommy Lachin was engaged to restore the entryway medallion; H. Rault locksmiths supplied the historically accurate hardware that now adorns every door and window in the home; custom paints from Farrow and Ball and Fine Paints of Europe mixed at Helm Paint were used to create a signature palette that set off the plaster moldings and large-scale windows.
With a Masters in Decorative Arts from the Cooper-Hewitt Institute in New York, Kaynor has an educated perspective on the importance of accurate historic details to a building’s overall aesthetic. “When I walk into a house, its history and its spirit speak to me,” the designer notes. “My goal with every client is to create an environment that is both a highly personal expression of its owner as well as an homage to the craftsmanship and design that exemplify so many of our historic homes here in New Orleans.”
For the Makk home, she carefully selected furnishings from local dealers that complemented the owner’s existing collection of mid-century pieces and 20th-century photography. A Gio Ponti games table sourced from the Uptowner sits across from a large-scale gelatin silver print by renowned chronicler of Southern culture Mark Steinmetz; a pair French late 18th century mirrors from Malachite Home reflect the glow from a contemporary Wiener Werkstätte-style chandelier by Jonathan Adler. The private spaces in the home feature delicate, hand embroidered linens from Leontine Linens and Julia B at Sotre, contrasting with highly stylized photography from Guthrie Contemporary that reflect Makk’s interest in diverging views of women in contemporary society. Each piece in the home is not only carefully curated, but purposeful: furniture is functional, art is conversational, and books are readable. Both owner and the designer subscribe to William Morris’ 1880 exhortation: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Today, 1434 Toledano is a happy mix of glamour and comfort, whimsy and utility. What once was place of gathering for family events once again welcomes friends, family and neighbors, children and pets; just as its Victorian origins intended, the home is centered around the family — a modern family. “I like to think that our home is an open-door destination for fun,” Makk said. “My daughter calls the house ‘our lucky place,’ and she couldn’t be more right.”
See this home and six other stunning Garden District homes at the PRC’s Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 9 & 10. Click here to purchase your tickets today!
Photo Gallery (click images to expand)
Photos by Sarah Essex Bradley