Love at First Site

Lola chef-owners transform Covington home into a playful oasis with a sense of place
Home 08

At a Glance

Square Footage
Interior Design
Nealy Frentz
Outstanding features
Board and batten exterior, porch with Mexican tile, patio with pool and hot tub, reclaimed pine floor on second story.


Nealy and Keith Frentz were barely inside a Covington house they admired when they both fell hard for the place.

“I knew when we walked into the back porch and saw the Mexican tile,” says Nealy, who grew up in Southern California in a house with Mexican tile floors. “There’s something about this house; it just spoke to us. It felt like this was the house at some point we were going to be in.”

The Frentzes, who own and are the chefs at Lola in Covington, weren’t able to make the purchase that first time around. Instead they moved to a house half a block away, and when the property became available again several years ago, they acted quickly.

Built in 1996 by one of the owners of Jackson Cabinetry, the house already had bones that appealed to the couple: a simple board and batten exterior that combined saltbox and farmhouse influences, and an interior that included pine floors, custom cabinetry and a wrought iron stair rail. Still, the house needed, according to Nealy, “some TLC” and additions for the Frentz family, which includes daughter Ella, 13, son Holden, 9, and two dogs.

The Frentzes updated the interior with Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster White, a creamy neutral that has become Nealy’s go-to color in each of the houses the Frentzes have owned. In the kitchen, they left the small but efficient footprint and added new luster by replacing the existing counters with thick slabs of soapstone and putting in a bright red professional grade Ferrara stove.

“We don’t actually cook at home as much as people would think,” says Nealy, who mostly cooks in the restaurant’s kitchen, which occupies a converted caboose. “But it’s super functional. You can be at the stove and pivot and the island is right behind you.”

The island, which the couple found at a local second-hand store, is topped with wood recycled from a bowling alley lane.

The Frentzes, who met when while both were chefs at Brennan’s, spend so much time at work that one of the most impactful parts of the renovation is the outdoor area where they relax. They removed the screens from the back porch, transformed the back yard with a brick courtyard, a pool modeled after one owned by a friend and a hot tub. They also planted bougainvillea that reminds Nealy of her California upbringing. In warm weather, they cool off in the pool and in cold weather they heat the hot tub remotely so that it’s a comfortable temperature when they get home at night.

Nealy’s love of wallpaper, featured at both Lola (located in the old Covington train depot and an old 1920s railcar) and in the house, leans towards the playful. For the dining room at home, she chose a tropical paper with monkeys that relates to the pale sage and red of the kitchen. She is in search of a striking paper for the wall next to the staircase.

The décor of the home mixes the youthful edge of modern designs with vintage finds and inherited pieces. An avocado green chair, a collection of Mardi Gras posters and a jar containing more than a hundred king cake babies are among the sentimental possessions handed down from Keith’s grandparents. There are locally made and thrifted items, and art and artifacts with a Louisiana provenance as well. The common theme is the Frentzes’ strong connection to home, family and sense of place.

“We always add our king cake babies to the jar,” says Nealy of the quirky keepsake that resides in the kitchen. “We continue the tradition.”

Categories: Editor’s Picks, Home Design/Decor