Serenity meets festivity in this spacious Uptown home
The relaxed elegance created by designer Rodney Villarreal flows from the dining room to the living room, a continuation of color and style to create one cohesive whole. The draperies he calls “soft buttery yellow” and light blue leather on the Louis XV style chairs are Villarreal’s way of bringing colors of nature, sun and sky, into the design. The traditional Turkish oushak rugs are from NOLA rugs.
Rodney Villarreal designed this 1861 home among sprawling live oaks in Uptown as an oasis in the lives of its busy homeowners. Always on the run between Houston and New Orleans, the couple wanted a space that would make them say “ahhh” when they walked in the door, a place to relax the soul and mind and a home base for the family.
The cool gray walls invite you in from the heat. Buttery yellow draperies and soft accents of blue and green echo the hues of nature. To tune in to his clients’ tastes, Villarreal asks questions that help build his pallet. “Are you an indoor or outdoor person? Do you prefer sunny or rainy days?” He also peeks inside their closets for color choices.
“Whatever colors a woman looks gorgeous in should be the colors surrounding her in her home,” says Villarreal.
Classical Revival elements and grand-scale spaces surrounded by lush gardens exemplify Uptown architecture of the city’s Antebellum Golden Age. Fourteen-foot ceilings, Baroque archways, and ornate medallions make a gracious setting for Villarreal’s décor magic. By painstakingly discovering the homeowners’ personalities, tastes and ideas over two years, he created an atmosphere of comfortable elegance so beautiful that the homeowner says, “I feel like pinching myself because I can barely believe it’s really ours and how lucky we are to get to appreciate it every day.” Villarreal “realized a dream I didn’t even know I had. He taught me to express a vision I could not even see,” she says.
The couple asked for a soothing, comfortable space where you want to take your shoes off and relax, just be, or stay at a dinner party for four hours. Villarreal accomplished this with a tasteful blend of old and new furnishings combined with art ranging from Louisiana landscapes to abstracts. But the serene also needed to contain an element of the festive. In the living room, Villarreal created intimate seating areas that easily transform into larger areas for entertaining. Glass and metal accents glimmer among the soft textures for a little sparkle, like the occasional, colorful pop of contemporary art.
When Villarreal reupholstered family pieces, he and the homeowners looked at dozens of fabrics before choosing. Villarreal says he insisted on using only fabrics that look beautiful and feel soft against your skin.
“The blue leather chairs are creamy like butter,” says the homeowner. “They are my favorite.”
A bright kitchen, a masculine, book-lined study, a master suite fit for a grand Parisian hotel, and a sexy little bar round out the main floor. The couple loves the intimate solarium off the living room for morning coffee and cocktails in the bar in the evening. They admit that Villarreal sometimes had to convince them of a design idea, like the copper-colored Murano chandelier in the master bedroom, but now the couple wouldn’t change a thing.
During the holidays, children and grandchildren fill the delightful second-floor bedrooms. “You should see the fun when we put up the 14-foot Christmas tree!” says the homeowner. “The house makes us really happy.”