Though one might say it shares a certain commonality with Carl Andre’s “Equivalent VIII,” a sculpture that has been in residence at the Tate Gallery in London since 1972, the home that Klein and Marcy Miller designed and built in Aragon in 2013 is hardly without form or solidarity. But much like the long-debated piece whose acquisition caused such great debacle, the house is a study in bricks, a tribute to these oft-overlooked materials that—when fully given their due and allowed to shine—can become an enduring work of art.
At 2850 square feet, the Miller’s pile of bricks is hardly small, its two levels of space encompassing a generous open-concept living, dining, and kitchen area in addition to three bedrooms and two and a half baths. And while other homes might conceal their brickwork construction behind insulation and painted walls, the Millers celebrate them, using exposed brick as the basis for much of their interior design.
“We loved the idea of incorporating historic, reclaimed elements in our home, so we sourced the overhead beams in our living area from an old textile mill in Chesterfield, Missouri; and the brick that we used on the outside of the house and for the walls in the downstairs living spaces came from an old warehouse in Birmingham, Alabama,” says Klein. “Each and every one of its three million bricks were salvaged when the warehouse was torn down, and we used forty thousand of them for our home. I think it looks amazing, and they’re something that people notice right away when they come here,” he continues.
The house is indeed a showstopper, a one-of-a-kind piece worthy of proud display—both inside and out. With its white columns and porches on each level, the front stucco façade presents a traditional picture inspired by historic homes common to the streets of New Orleans, its style heavily influenced by the work of renowned architect A. Hays Town. Much like Town, the Millers featured reclaimed materials in as many areas of their design as they could. “There’s something about using those pieces that makes it that much more special and unique—there’s a story attached to them that makes them even more beautiful.”
Using reclaimed cypress doors from Louisiana, the couple certainly opened the door to beauty; and the sense of warmth and charm created by such elements is one that perfectly suits their desire for a home that feels welcoming—what Marcy terms the “Louisiana feel.” Having both been raised in the Bayou State, maintaining that sense of open hospitality was a high priority when they built their home, especially when it came to the kitchen and the back porch, two spaces that the Millers use most. “We love entertaining our family and friends, so we needed a spacious kitchen and living area to accommodate that,” Marcy says. Boasting stainless Wolf appliances; leathered granite countertops whose inky black tones contrast the light wood of the cabinetry; and a center island fitted with a copper farm sink, the kitchen’s finishes are perfectly chosen, paying compliment to the exposed bricks and beams rather than seeming to outpace them by being overly modern.
Such thoughtful design is apparent in every aspect of the home, each a personal touch chosen; conceptualized; and actually, built by the Millers themselves. For Klein, who co-owns Old South Construction along with his son Stephen, it was a familiar process; but, more than just business as usual, building the house was a labor of love.
And the home is without shortage of things to love, though the Miller’s favorite space by far is the back porch and courtyard. “We spend a lot of time out there and love listening to the soothing sound of the water from our large fleur de lis fountain,” Marcy says. Reflective of their love of entertaining, the back porch is fully kitted with a kitchen and a gas fireplace perfect for warming up on chilly nights. “We designed this home to be an inviting one; and for us, that meant porches would be crucial. After all, in the South, porches are a way of life,” she says with a smile.
There’s much to enjoy from their porches—four in total, as each level of the house has both front and back porches. “The area is so charming and pretty, which was why we chose the location,” Marcy explains. “Downtown is in the midst of a revitalization, and it’s fantastic to see how beautiful it’s becoming. We’re in the perfect spot here—it’s within walking distance to restaurants and shopping, and the sense of close community we have with our neighbors is wonderful.”
The community is indeed a close one, as lot sizes are relatively narrow. But narrow space hardly cramped the Miller’s style, and so they utilized every area available to construct a home with as much room as possible by building a loft over the garage. In its 505 square feet, the studio-like loft includes one room with a small kitchenette, living, sleeping area and a separate full bath. “It’s good function planning for the space, but it was also part of making this a home that would allow us to have guests. We love living here, and we love sharing it with people we love.”