Hurricane Katrina flooded his family’s home in Lakeview. He converted it into a Tuscan-style venue. | entertainment/life

Al Petrie, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, loves Lakeview and respects his roots there. When 11 feet of post-hurricane flood waters inundated the 1940s home he and his two siblings grew up in, Petrie turned tragedy into triumph and built a home that emulated aspects of the family’s former home while also adapting to his favorites Style reminded that of an Italian villa.

“When the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t want to let it pass,” said Petrie, who along with his brother, Frank Petrie, wasted no time building a high-rise building across the street for them to live in while the plans for the main house were finalized take shape . “People in Lakeview wanted to come back better than before.”

Petrie’s parents bought their corner apartment—a traditional Federal home—in 1965. They also bought the property next door in the 1970s. The Petries and a neighbor then bought another lot, which they subdivided so that the Petries had 2½ lots in total. Over the years, the brothers, who stayed in the house as adults, renovated twice. However, after Katrina caused significant damage, they agreed to demolish the house and start over.







Frank Petrie stands in front of a collection of 3D pop art screenprints by New York artist Charles Fazzino.




Frank Petrie was adamant that the new home should be built above ground, suggesting that the garage be on the ground floor, with the living quarters on the next level and the bedrooms above.

It is also fortified with steel and concrete, and the garden is built on stilts.

“I wanted a fighting chance if Katrina ever happens again,” he said.

The other idea that influenced the redesign was the brothers’ love for their family home.

“When Katrina happened, you felt like you were being kicked out of your house,” Al Petrie said. “So, we said, let’s see how we can recreate it.”







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The kitchen features custom woodwork by a Mississippi artisan. On the left, the walls in the living area have a marble look.




Al Petrie restored water-damaged paintings and other decorative items from the family home, and devised a floor plan that placed the living room, dining room, kitchen, and study in the same locations as before.

A lamp in the living room, passed down from his parents, occupies the same space as in the old family home. The fireplace is positioned like the original, with the same painting (now restored) above it.

But instead of replicating the house, Al Petrie envisioned an architecture with Italian influences.







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The gardens from the second floor balcony. The house was planned in such a way that the old oak tree is preserved.




The new home is wider than the Petries’ former home and, at approximately 4,600 square feet, is more than twice the size of the older home. But the rescue of the huge oak tree next to the house limited expansion. Rather than overbuild, Al Petrie proposed a formal garden for the property adjacent to the house, inspired by the Villa d’Este on Lake Como in northern Italy’s Lombardy region.

The house opens onto the garden, partially shaded by the oak tree and visible from the street through a wrought iron gate. (Al Petrie was also instrumental in the care of other trees in Lakeview after Katrina. Working with Connie Uddo of the NOLA Tree Project and the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association, he helped raise more than a quarter of a million dollars to replace trees and shrubs in the area; he also helped raise another $350,000 for pathway lighting on West End Boulevard.)







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Al Petrie stands in front of the Luis Colmenares-designed streetcar in which the family is depicted: the front window shows pictures of the Petrie brothers’ parents. It was commissioned as part of the Young Leadership Council’s street art project.




He sketched the ideas for the new home himself and, with his brother’s blessing, took the helm of the project, sourcing everything from architects, contractors, carpenters and plasterers to hardware and lighting fixtures.

“We agreed that we didn’t want to rush things,” said Al Petrie, whose patience was rewarded with a list of talented people and chance finds. “We had a blank slate to work from. That was part of the fun. I wanted to find these unique things.”

The new design, which fused ideas from the old house’s floor plan with modern open concept areas, more natural light and an old-world Tuscan sensibility, got the green light from Frank Petrie, who told his brother to “try it.” The brothers noted that the idea of ​​the curved portico at the front was something their father wanted for their family home.







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Frank Petrie stands in front of a collection of 3D pop art screenprints by New York artist Charles Fazzino.




As well as handpicking every knob and finish, Al Petrie handcrafted all of the furniture (as well as the furniture in his bedroom), made plaster arches over the windows and doors to simulate wood moldings, and commissioned a Glashütte artist in New Orleans to hand-blown the colorful light fixture in the dining room inspired by the organic works of famed Seattle artist Dale Chihuly.

To ensure the garden looked beautiful from where the French doors would be, Petrie viewed the view from the top of a ladder.

Mediterranean influences, drawn from Al Petrie’s love of Italy, include arched openings, balustrades, stucco molding, travertine, hand-cast plaster alcoves, columns and walls painted with faux marble, and a balcony overhanging the garden.







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On two and a half lots in Lakeview, Al and Frank Petrie built a Tuscan-style home with ornate gardens.




The cabinets in the house are masculine in their proportions, and because the brothers love to entertain and have hosted numerous fundraisers, the house has a second-floor bar and speakers for indoor and outdoor music. (They host annual Halloween and Christmas celebrations.)

There are two master bedrooms (one for each brother) and two home offices (Frank Petrie worked in medical imaging equipment and maintains the bell and tone systems for local Catholic churches; Al Petrie specializes in investor relations consulting for the energy industry.) There gives a media room as well as plenty of wall and shelving space for displaying art and collectibles. Al Petrie collects three-dimensional pop art by New York artist Charles Fazzino, as well as Mardi Gras china and miniature cottages by English artist David Winter.

“I finally have a house where I can really enjoy these things,” he said.







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The gardens are often used for entertainment. The geometry of its various elements adds visual interest: a fan pattern in the walkway and a tiered circular fountain soften the sharper angles of box hedges and a wooden pergola. The plantings are layered to draw the eye upwards.




Planted with sansanqua, Italian cypress, and a Chinese mulberry tree with white snowball blossoms, the garden features manicured box hedges, circular walkways framed by balustrade railings and classical statues, and a wooden pergola.

“We loved our family home and we kept renovating it,” said Al Petrie. “But instead of looking at Katrina as a negative experience, I saw it as a positive catalyst to create and build a home I’ve always wanted and to serve as an example of what I think Lakeview could be.”

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