Everyone knows you can’t beat waterfront living. Tucked away in a small neighborhood on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, a raised Acadian home sits gracefully surrounded by water on all sides. A fountain, a pool, a bayou and a lake conspire to provide a beautiful view from any window of the peaceful and private home of Ryan and Liz Wall.
A Navy veteran and anesthesiologist, Dr. Wall and his wife, a nurse, settled on this house during a move back from southern California. They found homes in many neighborhoods to be tightly packed together. They settled on this secluded house that sits on more than an acre of land and was the complete opposite of neighborhood living. Its convenient location provided an easy commute for their oldest son’s drive to high school in New Orleans, and since buying it eight years ago they’ve put their stamp on every space in the house.
The main feature of the house is the brick staircase that leads from the front entrance to the second floor of the home, which is the main living floor for almost every lakefront home in the area. It’s one of the benefits of buying an older home, the Walls say; today’s home building prices prevent most people from adding features like deep front porches and grand exterior stairs. Over a thousand square feet of porches surround the house, providing shade and breeze any time of day, any time of year. The substantial brick columns keep the proportions of the home classical, falling in suit with the formal, sculpted landscaping of the front approach. This place was built specifically for entertaining crowds of people, with ample parking and a flowing floor plan, and anyone would be thrilled to receive an invitation up the grand staircase.
The view is always the focal point in this house, whether you’re looking towards Lake Pontchartrain or Old Vinegar Bayou, where sightings of wildlife are common. Large windows with transoms above seem to beg for sunlight to flow through them. A private boat dock keeps the family boat and jet-skis nearby for impromptu fun on the water. The pool area is enveloped by lush tropical landscaping and is easily accessible from the bottom floor workout room, which was added during a remodel focused on making the first floor “waterproof.”
Upstairs, the antique cypress floors have been refinished throughout the home, lending honey-like warmth to the more formal furnishings. In fact, most of the woodwork throughout the house, from the formal spiral staircase in the foyer to window casings and moldings, was milled from cypress trees that grew on the property. This type of natural history in a home is reminiscent of plantations built centuries ago, and is seldom found in homes built less than 50 years ago.
The Walls worked with the same designer from the beginning to make the entire home cohesive as they tackled each project. The focal point of the spacious kitchen is a show-stopping copper hood that gleams amid creamy white cabinetry and a rustic brick floor. The new appliances would thrill any professional chef, including a hibachi grill that the family loves to use during parties. The 200-bottle wine rack would satisfy the most discerning sommelier. The kitchen is graced by a fireplace, one of five throughout the house, adding a bit of soft old-time charm amid the crisp stainless steel. Soft, neutral colors unify the home, and a fantastic art collection adds controlled punch to every room. Luxurious custom draperies highlight tall ceilings in the formal areas and rich wood tones in the furniture add layers of color to the overall light palette. A game room contains most of the proof that three boys live in this house, corralling most of the jumble that comes along with children. The bedrooms and bathrooms are spacious, with clean, modern stone and tile surfaces that provide a sleek contrast to the home’s dressy furnishings and plush carpets. The master bedroom is particularly stunning, with a replica of Princess Diana’s bed as its centerpiece.
Liz points out that the perfect furnishings were worth waiting for; she did not rush to fill the rooms, but took her time choosing the pieces that she truly loved. Now, she has complete satisfaction with each space instead of constantly feeling the need to rework them. For a family that decided to put their roots on the Northshore after years of travel, this tucked away spot that’s close to everything they need has proven to be just what the doctor ordered.