SAVE THE FOOTPRINT
The owners of this home near City Park show a respect for its past
Sara Landrieu and her daughter Jennifer pose in front of one of Sara’s paintings over the fireplace in the dining room.
CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPHS
Sara and Mark Landrieu’s unique home sits just a few steps away from City Park. Built in 1907, the 9,000-square-foot house occupies three floors with a broad veranda across the front and side. The main living area is on the second level of the architectural gem located on a tree-lined street of large homes.
A palette of bold colors adorn the art-filled walls. “I love the sense of color,” explains Sara, an interior designer. “I instinctively never shy away from using color, so when you walk into a room you can let your eyes travel from color to color, texture to texture, which lends itself to the feeling that each room has a vast expanse. Thus, even the smallest of places seem quite large and very inviting.
“Every room in our house tells a different story,” Sara continues. “Here I feel a responsibility to General Wolfley and his wife, who were the longest owners of the house, to maintain the areas in it as if they were still residents. It is the same and yet it’s different since it definitely has a contemporary feeling. In other words, while most people would have ripped out walls and changed the footprint of the house, I have left the floor plan intact. The kitchen, butler’s waiting area, butler’s pantry and even the back porch, where Mrs. Wolfley loved to have lunch, remain exactly where they’ve always been.”
Sara’s unique design approach is evident in the dining room where she used the same striped fabric for the drapes to create a valence that totally surrounds the room, just above the pocket-door frame that leads to the living room and under the picture molding in the rest of the space. “I wanted the dining room to lose its formal appearance because there’s only a pair of French doors to allow light into the room. The room appeared dark to me, so I decided to make the whole room the window by draping the corners and then running a valance around the picture molding.”
Other features of the house include the built-in beds she designed for the bedroom of her daughters when they were younger. “I helped do the construction, along with my father,” she says. “It saved a great deal of space and I have designed about eight other bedrooms with similar built-ins for cousins and friends.” Once again color definitely rules. “There are 14 colors used in the room. It’s a great example of layering colors.”
Her favorite room is the den with its federal blue walls and ceiling. It was once the stein room for General Wolfley. In fact, for his 100th birthday in the house, his family painted the room federal blue as a tribute to him. “When I purchased the house it was the only room with color on the walls (The rest of the house was white.) I left the blue intact and added the yellow with a light cream-colored striped below the chair rail. I still feel the blue is a sacred color in our house.”
The house is a maze of interesting rooms, all with bright colors on the walls and furnished in an eclectic manner. The May 2009 issue of New Orleans Magazine featured the Landrieus’ weekend home, located just a few blocks away on Bayou St. John. It too offered decorative eye candy. It is interesting to see how Sara Landrieu decorated their main home with many rooms, in juxtaposition to the small single shotgun on Moss Street. She didn’t disappoint. “Every room in both places tells a different story. I think of each one as a happy place washed in bold colors and laden with treasures I’ve enjoyed collecting over a lifetime.”