Dr. Mohamed Elkersh, a double board-certified pain medicine physician at the Advanced Pain Institute in Covington, has always enjoyed traveling the world. In fact, it was his love of South Louisiana culture that convinced him to move from Los Angeles to Madisonville. When he found a site on the Tchefuncte River, he knew he wanted to build a modern home that also preserved the historical aspects of the site. 

“Madisonville has a rich historical heritage that is deeply rooted in the community’s traditions and historical artifacts,” Dr. Elkersh says. “My vision was to integrate the preservation of the historical artifacts with modernistic architecture.”

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To this end, Dr. Elkersh hired Hugo Mijares, creative director at Miami-based architecture and design firm One Design Build/H2 Architecture. Mijares led a team that also included his partner, Andres Hollmann, and the entire design team in Miami. The team then worked with Mandeville-based McMath Construction and architect of record, Mike Piazza, in order to finalize architectural design and construction. Conceptual design began in March 2019, and construction was complete in August 2022.

“I had the pleasure of meeting the client through a reference, which is a great way to establish trust and credibility from the beginning,” Mijares says. “It shows that someone else has had a positive experience with your work and is willing to recommend you to others. In this case, Dr. Elkersh was specifically looking for a cutting-edge design firm, and we were able to meet that criteria, which likely impressed him and gave him confidence in our ability to deliver a unique and innovative design.”

Specifically, Dr. Elkersh wanted a home that blended with the environment. As such, the site played an important role in the architectural design. For example, plans called for preserving and integrating a centennial 60-foot-canopy live oak tree, and restoring a World War I-era pier to its original size while using the original pilings.

“Incorporating a tree into the design added a unique feature that connects the house to the natural environment, and provides a sense of continuity between the indoors and outdoors,” Mijares says. “Restoring the 3,600-square-foot historic pier to accommodate new structures and a pool overlooking the river was another suggestion from the client and a great example of integrating the natural environment into the design. The pier was used by Jahncke Shipyard to build war ships for the United States Navy during World War I. The preservation of the pier is a vital component to connect Madisonville’s proud history to the modernistic design. The design feature allows the house to take advantage of the stunning views of the river, while providing a relaxing and luxurious outdoor space for the family to enjoy.”

Another important aspect of the design was taking advantage of natural light, available breezes and the beautiful views of the Tchefuncte River. “By designing the house to capture natural light, it helps to reduce energy costs and creates a comfortable and inviting space for the family,” Mijares says.

In fact, the well-thought-out design strategy for the Elkersh residence is a great example of catering to the client’s needs and desires, while preserving and integrating the site. “The open-plan design that is elevated from the ground is an excellent way to capture views of the surroundings, while preserving the natural landscape [and giving] the illusion of being in the treetops. This design feature also creates a sense of openness and spaciousness, making the house feel larger than it is.”

Dr. Elkersh’s home features four bedrooms, four-and-one-half baths, a den, a studio, a media room and a separate guest room overlooking the river. There’s also an open kitchen and a double-height grand salon perfect for entertaining. 

Materials used in the design were kept to a minimum and included glass, stucco, natural limestone and composite wood. “Each material was chosen for its durability, low maintenance and ability to create a unique and interesting look,” Mijares says. “Together, they create a modern and minimalist design aesthetic that is both functional and visually appealing.”

A great example is the flooring used throughout. On the first floor, the design team chose to use 36-inch by 36-inch polished tile from Triton Stone that provides a seamless aesthetic while also reflecting natural light. The second floor features white oak planks in a matte finish providing a more comfortable and cozy ambience for the private areas of the home. Persian rugs, by Parvizian Fine Rugs, lend warmth and visual interest to spaces throughout the home.

Meanwhile, the kitchen, which Mijares calls the heart of the home, makes a significant impact on the overall look and feel of the home. For example, Mijares used natural walnut for the kitchen cabinets and book-matched stone (built in Italy and installed locally) as a focal point for the room. Thermador appliances (sourced through La Cuisine International) further elevate the space. 

“In this design, the natural walnut creates a sleek and modern look, while also providing warmth and texture to the space,” Mijares says. “The book-matched stone has been used as a backsplash and as a countertop, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to the space.”

Overall, Mijares describes Dr. Elkersh’s home as a combination of modern and Southern architecture. “One of the main characteristics of modern contemporary architecture is its simplicity and focus on functionality,” he says. “This is often achieved through the use of clean lines, open floor plans and minimalist design elements. On the other hand, Southern architecture is characterized by traditional features such as wraparound porches, pitched roofs and ornate detailing. Combining these two styles can create a unique and compelling design that is visually striking and functional. This design approach can also help to create a sense of place and connection to the local community.”

Indeed, the inside-out experience is one of the home’s many standout features. Mijares designed it to have a similar aesthetic to the interior of the house, thereby creating a cohesive and seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

 “By applying the principles of elegance, functionality and beauty to the design of the house, the end result is a space that is both visually pleasing and functional,” Mijares  says. “The design philosophy influenced every aspect of the project, from the initial concept to the finishing touches, resulting in a home that is a true reflection of the designer’s vision and the client’s desires.”