House Tour: Modern Railroad-Style Home in New Orleans
A skinny lot and the residence’s long, narrow layout provided creative challenges for the couple that transformed it into a home for their family.
At first blush, the Farouki residence in the historic Lower Garden District of New Orleans appears quite compact. The average pedestrian, in scanning the mere 18-foot-wide lot, might be surprised to know that a family of four comfortably lives inside. But this modern railroad-style home was designed by a husband-and-wife team who are architects and designers by trade, and they took on the challenge of maximizing the narrow-but-deep home to perfectly suit their family’s needs.
“[The lot] looked more like where you would park a boat or an RV—not a house,” Sabri said. “But that was what attracted us to it. We felt that, if we used our imagination and creativity, we could make it work.”
Their vision for the space included a juxtaposition of beautiful materials and textures inside, a modern façade that paid tribute to the historic district in which it was located, and from room to room an impressive economy of space.
The main entrance is located along the side of the home, with an ornamental gate that faces the street, serving as a conduit to the front door. This was an important design choice from the start, and it allowed the homeowners to balance the flow of the interior spaces well.
“The ornamental gate acts as the front door,” Sabri said. “To someone on the street, it gives you a sense of entry. Going through that gate, you then proceed halfway down the length of the house, where there’s a French door with a sidelight—that's the front door.”
Situating a front door on the street-facing façade would’ve forced the couple to sacrifice bedroom space. Positioning the entry on the side of the home enabled a more spacious foyer. Upon entering, you’re met with warm white oak lining the grand stairway and forming a tidy built-in shoe rack.
This first floor is where two bedrooms and all three bathrooms are located. To the left of the entry and facing the street is the main bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. To the right is a powder room and further down the hall is the kids’ shared bedroom and bathroom. The home is roughly 130 feet long.
The stairs’ natural white oak tones contrast in an interesting way with the black steel beam, driven up through the center of the home to provide structural support. Recommended by the home’s structural engineer, the steel was left exposed, as the Faroukis felt it offered a unique opportunity to demarcate spaces and provide a bit of industrial character.
“One of the most fundamental moves was to put the living spaces upstairs,” Sabri said. “We knew we’d want to spend more of our time in the kitchen and living room with our two kids.”
“Upstairs, there are windows on almost all sides,” Sabri said. This was intentional, as the family knew they’d be spending most of their time on the second floor. “We wanted to have as many windows as we could to open it up, and it feels really good. It doesn’t feel as skinny as it is, and that’s the feedback we get when people visit. The windows definitely play a big part of that.”
At the top of the stairs, you find yourself in a small landing, with a light-filled living room area to your left and a sprawling kitchen to your right. Of note in the living room are the clever built-in white-oak millwork shelves, filled with verdant plants and trailing leaves. Numerous windows amplify access to natural light and make the space feel larger than it really is.