Strategic planning hides Perkins Road home in plain sight

Ann Shaw’s home sits on a corner lot on a major thoroughfare across the street from one of Baton Rouge’s busiest shopping areas. Using creative landscaping, she refocused the setting to create her own quiet haven.

When the house was built in 1936, it faced Perkins Road, then a slow country drive. Even though her subdivision remained residential, over time the area across Perkins developed into commercial property.

A previous owner built a concrete-block wall across the front of the property and relocated the entrance of the home to the residential side street. By covering the wall with fig vine, planting citrus trees between the wall and the home and building attractive pathways, Shaw screened out Perkins Road and created a well-secluded environment.

Shaw looked at several homes when she returned to Baton Rouge in 2008 after attending optometry school in Memphis. More than anything, it was the neighborhood that attracted her.

“It’s on the route for all of my friends,” Shaw said. “It’s the house in the middle. I have a lot of stop-bys.”

And a lot of parties.

Shaw always has a big celebration for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and, because she’s so close to LSU, she ends up having football parties, too.

Improvements made by the former owner, including an updated kitchen and a modern wet bar, were also an attraction.

“The design was simplistic and clean, not a lot of clutter,” she said. “That’s what I like.”

Shaw can tell from the varying thicknesses of the walls that the home has been configured several ways over its 75-plus years. A previous owner converted one room into a gigantic closet.

“I am sure he did this because the closets in the house are small,” she said. The closet was probably once a bedroom or living room because it has a fireplace.

A large room that runs along the Perkins Road side of the home is now her combination living room-dining room. David Coco, of Dixon Smith Interiors, helped Shaw select neutral wall colors and a rug to tie the room together.

One of the most unusual improvements a previous owner made was to the master bathroom, where a toilet is installed inside a large modern shower. Someone also put a bathtub and sink in the backyard.

Shaw kept the toilet in the shower and turned the outdoor bathtub into an herb and flower garden.

Like most new owners of old houses, Shaw had some surprises when she started renovating.

“I had to do a new roof and pretty much all of the plumbing,” she said. She also had to repair beams under the house.

“I had to do things that do not show,” she said.

She found some good surprises, too, like pecanwood floors in excellent condition. The backyard is spacious, and with its nice deck, makes a perfect place for relaxing or entertaining.

Shaw has decorated the home with sleek modern pieces including a low bookcase in the dining room and a welded coffee table in the living room. The coffee table and a tall table in the kitchen were made by her brother-in-law Steve Swenson, a landscape architect in Plano, Texas.

The dining room table was left by the previous owner. She uses it with some chairs she bought at a garage sale.

Shaw, who is a practicing optometrist with the Southern Eye Center in Baton Rouge and Plaquemine, has lots of plans for the house. But always her goal is to keep it simple and uncluttered.