Old Metairie home checks all its owners’ boxes | Home/Garden

Old Metairie home checks all its owners’ boxes | Home/Garden

Though their new home is loaded with enviable features, it was the option to live in the backyard, if necessary, that really sold Robert and Erin Grinstead on their stunning new Old Metairie home.

Taking up residence in the yard would not be a first for Robert Grinstead.

“When the COVID pandemic first started and we really did not know how it was spread or how to treat it, I pretty much lived on the back porch for six months,” said Grinstead, a physician’s assistant in infectious diseases with Ochsner Medical System. “We had two young children, and I did not want to risk infecting them.” 

Grinstead 3 , March 8,2023

Erin and Robert Grinstead with sons Hogan, 14, and Paxton, 11.

If history should repeat itself, he wanted a house with a sheltered outdoor living area, an outdoor kitchen and many windows through which he could see and interact with his family, as he had in his previous home.

He got those, and a lot more. And the Grinsteads credit their homebuilder, MLM Inc., with making their experience helping to tailor a spec home to their taste smooth sailing. 

“We’ve dealt with a lot of builders,” said Erin Grinstead, “and that was not always the case. They were open to a lot of back and forth. When little things happen, as they do with new construction, anything we had to fix or adjust, they came immediately.”

MLM will be one of the builders on hand at the New Orleans Home & Garden Show, which runs Friday through Sunday and is sponsored by the New Orleans Homebuilders Association. 

Grinstead 11, March 8,2023

The kitchen island seats the entire family.  

The backstory

Prior to purchasing their Old Metairie home, the Grinsteads had lived in a rental house with plans to custom build a home entirely of nontoxic materials, with an eye toward air quality, sound environmental standards and energy efficiency.

They had built, lived in and sold such a house before, in great part to accommodate their children, both of whom have asthma. But ultimately, after numerous delays, supply chain issues, and ballooning costs, they determined that a custom build was untenable.

“Not only the cost, but our oldest son is in the eighth grade,” said Erin Grinstead. “We wanted him to have a permanent home where he could have his friends over. We did not want to wait years and years for him to have that.”

Grinstead 8, March 8,2023

The all-marble primary bathroom downstairs has a walk-in shower and tub.

Checking out the market

That’s when they started looking for a house that would meet their needs. They found the French Country-style house in Old Metairie while it was under construction by MLM, a design-build firm based in Elmwood.

“This house checked all the boxes,” said Erin Grinstead, a recruiter for a start-up tech firm. “We wanted a butler’s pantry, an outdoor living space with a kitchen, an open floor plan and a garage.”


Geometric wallpaper dresses up the downstairs guest bath.

Both Grinsteads have aging parents who frequently stay with them overnight and may one day live with them, so the benefit of master bedroom suites on the first and second floors was also a selling point. There are two more bedrooms upstairs as well.

With 12-foot ceilings on the first floor and 11-foot ceilings on the second, the house feels much larger than its 3,880 square feet. The grandeur of a spacious entryway with a ceiling that soars 24-feet overhead also appealed to the frequent entertainers.

About design build 

As a one-stop design and build operation, MLM founder and President Machi Medrzycki said he can keep costs in check by minimizing revisions to plans. When using an outside architect, he said, the builder is rarely privy to the plans until they are complete. If the builder finds problems in execution, the plans bounce back and forth between the parties, costing time and money.

Grinstead 16, March 8,2023

The backyard was a major selling point in the Grinsteads’ decision to buy the house. As an infectious disease specialist, Robert Grinstead lived in the backyard of their previous home during the Covid pandemic.

Erin Grinstead agreed. “With new construction, you could see what you were getting,” rather than finding, for instance, that windows were planned for the wrong spots, as with her previous home.  

Builders can end up “killing the dreams the architect created” for clients. “Since we both design and build, we can temper their expectations as we go along,” he said.

MLM was able to meet some of the Grinsteads’ desires for air quality control and energy efficiency with beefed-up insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, on-demand water heaters, low GPM (gallons per minute) faucets and LED lighting systems with dimming capacity.

Smart house technology makes the home programmable from afar, and USB ports are in every wall outlet.

Grinstead 1, March 8, 2023

The Grinsteads’ home is new construction in Old Metairie.

Spec, with owner input

Part of the reason the Grinsteads are so happy with their home is that MLM has online spec books on the houses it’s constructing, so the Grinsteads were able to visualize every element in every room — from ceiling height and paint color to switch plate covers — and to decide whether to accept or reject them.

While it wasn’t the same as custom building, they had a lot of input, and found all the materials to be top quality.

“The only things we changed on the house as it was designed was the stair rail,” Robert Grinstead said.

“We have built a custom house before so we know what goes in to this. MLM uses the kind of high-end materials usually associated with a custom build — great design, solid core doors, lots of storage space, a rec area upstairs for the kids, great lighting and smart features. This was an uncommon spec house. This is a luxury house.”