The Best Of Both Worlds

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They chickened out. They planned to buy and live on a yacht. But after searching extensively along the Gulf Coast for the right vessel, they didn’t do it. Instead, new Mandeville residents Michael and Fran Riggs opted for a  river view at Tchefuncte Oaks Townhomes in Mandeville, and they couldn’t be happier with their decision.

For the former Dallas, Texas residents, retirement brought the need for a significant downsize while getting closer to their grandchildren who live in Baton Rouge. For years, their plan was to move onto a boat and spend lots of time in Marina Beau Chene when they weren’t exploring the coast. As they shopped though, that plan changed. “I kept seeing ‘for sale’ signs in every marina,” Fran said. “We started to realize boats were this major commitment that we might not be able to sell later on. Then we saw a sign on this condo from the river and thought, ‘hmmm.’”

To hear Fran tell the story, it was not love at first sight. Built in 1988, the townhouse had sat on the market for a year. Some updates had been made, but in her own words, Fran laughs, “It was a dog!” Fortunately, her realtor/neighbor/friend referred her to Heather Borgstede at Niche Modern Home. In true Louisiana fashion, Fran and Heather shared a connection: Heather was a family friend of Fran’s son-in-law. “Everybody knows everybody here,” Fran said. “My daughter Lena warned me that I had to be nice to everyone because they’ll know someone I know!”

With the connection made, Fran and Heather quickly set to work updating the townhouse. The view of the river is definitely the star of the show, and Fran immediately told Heather to “Bring out there in here.” Usability was also a focal point of the design process, which lasted just three months from start to finish.

It may have looked like a “dog” at first glance, but the condo offered some redeeming qualities. The original hardwood floors were refinished and look renewed against a fresh coat of Popular Gray on all the home’s walls. The kitchen, though it looks totally different now, was not gutted. The cabinets were meticulously brush-painted, and some upper cabinets were removed to provide more openness and additional lighting. Every knob, hinge and drawer pull was replaced, small details that added modernity to update the home. The existing countertops worked with the updated color scheme and new backsplash tile adds just enough zing to make things interesting.

Usability was a driving force during the entire process, considering the whole point of the renovation was to create a space for their grandchildren to visit often. “Machine-washable” was a mantra for fabric selections, and everything from furniture slipcovers to duvets on the beds can be tossed in the wash for no-worries fun. The unit’s elevator was also a selling point, as both homeowners have elderly parents. Plus, as Fran says, “the kids just love it!”

Simple, neutral draperies add the finishing touch to each room and provide a consistency and sense of rhythm to the home. Custom touches like these—coupled with the new built-in wet bar, painted Courtland Blue from Benjamin Moore—elevate the townhouse from typical to striking. These features also provide the clean, contemporary feel the Riggs wanted in an easy-maintenance home.

With a membership to Freedom Boat Club, the couple gets to spend as much time boating as they like, without the hassle of upkeep. It’s the best of both worlds for them: boating activities paired with the convenience of living on land, a much welcomed change after years spent in landlocked Dallas.

“We just brought a toothbrush—that was it,” Fran says of their move. “Everything else was here when we arrived.”



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