Back at the Ranch
Christina Graci Javanmardi uses timeless design to update a 1955 Baton Rouge ranch home for a growing family
Above The Heromans knocked out a wall between what is now the family room and living room and raised the ceiling. Rustic beams and heart pine floors (made with wood from an Amish barn in Wisconsin) add a sense of age. Traditional furnishings and a neutral palette accented with shades of celadon and pink connect the house to the past and present. Top Right Antique arm chairs flank the fireplace now topped with a simple wooden mantle that mimics the overhead beams. Built-in book shelves were added during the remodel. Bottom Right Javanmardi chose a pair of painted metal lamps to bring in color and echo the sepia tones of the framed architectural drawings grouped above the sofa.
When built in 1955, the Baton Rouge house that Sarah and Robert Heroman now own was a classic ranch with a single story, low ceilings and a brick surround fireplace. Fifty-five years later, its large lot and prime location next to the Baton Rouge Country Club remained appealing, but its architecture was dated. The Heromans (Robert is a third generation owner of his family’s well-known Baton Rouge horticulture business) purchased the house in 2010 with the intention of renovating it for their growing family and turned to designer Christina Graci Javanmardi of Graci Interiors for help with the transformation.
“She knew who to call,” says Javanmardi, who is one of Sarah’s closest friends. “There wasn’t any question.”
In addition to being simpatico friends, Sarah and Javanmardi were on the same page design-wise. Sarah wanted what Javanmardi describes as “Southern, traditional, casual,”
while Javanmardi and her brother Chad Graci are known for what Javanmardi calls “traditional with a fresh take.” In 2014, Traditional Home magazine named the partners “New Traditional Designers to Watch.”
“Nothing is overly done, everything is based off of classical design,” says Javanmardi.
The Heromans and Javanmardi agreed on a plan for gutting the house and imbuing it with a more timeless feel. That meant knocking out walls, carving out higher ceilings where possible, adding traditional elements such as beams, pine floors, moldings and built-in bookshelves, and updating the interior finishes and furniture with touches of contemporary design and references to the house’s Louisiana setting. Antiques, painted pieces and rustic woods impart a European patina and a sense of age. Homeowners and designer also agreed on a foundation of neutrals with a quiet palette of pinks, celadons and pale blues woven in through the art, drapery, pillows, lamps and other accessories.
“We were conscientious about where we put the color and how bold it was,” says Javanmardi.
Opening the house for a more spacious flow was key to the success of the remodel. In the living area, the ceilings were raised the maximum amount. In other areas, such as the dining room and master bedroom where the original roofline is lower, tray ceilings were created for extra height. The kitchen retained its minimal galley-style footprint, but Javanmardi’s clever use of a window seat paired with a small table enabled the owners to check off an important item on their family-friendly wish list — an eat-in kitchen.
Javanmardi also focused on family needs when decorating the nursery for the couple’s daughter, Claire. She chose gender-neutral colors and prints so that few changes would be required for a boy. When the couples’ second child, John Robert, came along, only two adjustments were made. A bell-jar lantern now occupies the spot where Claire’s floral tole fixture hung and the liner in a basket was changed.
“Sarah grew up in a very traditional house and wanted a younger, fresher, lighter take,” says Javanmardi. “But when you do a major renovation, you want things to age well. This house will carry them for a long time.”