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Peaceful Grandeur

Pamela and Cedric Martin at home in the Garden District

New Orleans architect Henry Howard designed the 1859 Garden District mansion of Dr. Pamela and Cedric Martin.

Cheryl Gerber Photos

There is a peaceful understated grandeur to the Garden District home of Dr. Pamela “Pam” and Cedric Martin. The double parlors are wrapped in an envelope of soft, creamy, café au lait beige with heavy silk drapes hanging from simple iron rods, creating a backdrop for fine French antiques covered in silk fabrics. Nothing here is overdone. There are even walls that are left unadorned. It is all an amazing statement of timeless interior design.

The Martins are the fifth owners of the stately mansion built in 1859 that seems to sit quietly behind an iron fence. Even the open grate iron font door is unique. A broad center hall welcomes you with a comfortable salon famille (den) flanking the front of the house across from the double parlors. Here again everything is done in soft, muted colors, with three uncovered windows overlooking the front and side garden. Completing the rooms adjoining the hall is a formal dining room furnished in fine French antiques. Even the beautiful flowers from Avery Florist are restrained.

The renovated kitchen is a modern dream with a chef’s state-of-the-art French Lacanche range and double original fireplaces on the same wall that has a huge window over the sink and plenty of working counter space. An iron island with a marble top serves as a chef’s table with storage space below for the impressive collection of hundreds pieces of china from France. Light floods the space from the wall of windows and glass doors that lead onto the wrap around porch and adjoining patio that overlooks the swimming pool.

To complete the large kitchen is a table and chairs for dining, a hutch and what looks like a secret door to another space under the back stairway to the second floor.

Pam is quick to give credit to Patrick Dunn, owner of Lucullus Culinary Antiques, Art and Objects on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, who has helped with interior design as well as finding the unique antique monogrammed china that graces the center chef’s table in the kitchen. “I credit Patrick for the peaceful, understated design,” she says. “I trust him with everything and he always pleases me.” She tells a story about getting a call from him on one of his trips to France telling her he had found the perfect china for the family, adding he was just warning her, “There are a lot of dishes.”

The Martins’ home is perfect for their family of five, which includes Hope, 28; David, 26; and Ardenne, 24; and Skye, the family’s small rescue dog who enjoys relaxing on the fine, silk-covered, antique sofas, chaise lounges and chairs without fear of being scolded. “We live a very relaxed life,” Pam says. Cedric is the owner of Martin Wine Cellar and Pam is a dermatopathologist at a local private lab and on the staff of Louisiana State University Medical Center’s Dermatology Department.

With such busy careers, it’s definitely generous of them to open their lovely home to groups, such as the Lausset Society of The Historic New Orleans Collection and for a Preservation Resource Center Christmas Home Tour a few years ago. The Martins enjoy their home that may look like the architectural or design pages of a fine magazine anywhere in the world. “To us it is simply our comfortable home,” Pam says.

 

Dr. Pamela “Pam” Martin

 

A simple, French antique table and chairs occupy the rear of the kitchen.

 

A comfortable chaise lounge in the center window of the double parlors is Pam’s favorite spot for reading; the peaceful understated grandeur of the interior design was created by Patrick Dunn, owner of Lucullus Culinary Antiques, Art and Objects, who says every room should have a place to read a book and drink a glass of wine.

 

An antique desk and corner chair are positioned in front of the double front windows that overlook the front porch and garden in the salon famille.

 

The 18th century French table and chairs are illuminated by a French antique chandelier; the pair of French doors flanking the fireplace opens onto the side garden.

 

The rear of the double parlors overlooks the swimming pool and back garden; an antique 19th century French chandelier illuminates the space, while an antique trumeau mirror hangs over the mantle, and three Bergere chairs and a sofa, all covered in silk, complete the seating in the elegant double parlors.

 

The large kitchen opens onto the porch and patio adjoining the swimming pool; the pragmatic space was designed to evoke an old comfortable chef’s kitchen, and the chef’s table between the stove and large farm sink holds the set of monogrammed china Patrick Dunn found in France for the Martins.

 

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