Chris Odinet and McHenry “Dub” Lee had some pretty definite ideas when they started house shopping in early 2011.
They wanted a more traditional home with rooms instead of the large open spaces of more modern structures. And they wanted to live in an older neighborhood, like the Garden District.
“We wanted separate rooms, but good flow,” says Odinet.
Several years earlier, he had seen a “for sale” sign in front of an interesting house in the garden Garden District. He was surprised to find it was still on the market. On online peek at the interior, however, wasn’t very impressive.
On their first excursion with a realtor, they decided to take a quick look at the home.
“We walked in, looked around, turned to each other and said, ‘This could be a really cool house,’” Odinet recalls with a laugh.
What Odinet and Lee loved about the house was the arrangement of rooms across the front — a large dining room, a living room and a sunroom. It was perfect for entertaining, which the guys love to do.
Out went the old front door and in came a handmade cypress door.
The living room and dining room, painted an unappealing shade of yellow, were lightened with classic white. They added molding in the dining room to create panels and installed a chandelier.
They completely refocused the dark green sunroom by painting its pecky cypress walls white.
“The dark color made the room feel small,” says Odinet, an assistant professor at the Southern University Law Center.
Off the sunroom was a raised deck, which Odinet and Lee replaced. They added a connecting street-level deck and a pergola, which allows much of the deck area to be used year-round.
Lee, an analyst for the Louisiana Senate, is an expert cook known for his homemade cookies and bread. He wanted the small kitchen to have a more open look, so he had the cabinet doors removed to create open shelving, and painted it a clean white.
The master bedroom, originally off the living room area, was turned into a guest room.
Odinet and Lee converted an old mother-in-law suite at the back of the house into the master bedroom.
The room, originally a garage, was lower than the level of the main house, so the men had their contractor raise the floor , and they redid an adjoining bathroom to create a master suite.
“We made it work,” Odinet says.
The home also has a second story.
A stairwell behind the living room leads to a cozy study, where Odinet works, and a small bedroom, which Lee uses as an art studio.
Lee says he always had an interest in art, but only began painting seriously about four years ago.
Many of his paintings reflect his upbringing on a ranch in Texas with colorful pictures of cows and other farm animals. His paintings hang throughout the house along with works by several local artists.
The two men have collected an assortment of furniture and accessories, including family pieces, purchased some antiques and items from retailers like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.
They love entertaining in their home, throwing large parties as well as dinners for eight to 12 friends.
“It is what we would rather do,” Lee says. “Dinner with good wine, good food and conversation.”