A Touch of Provence in Metairie

Gina and Joseph Piacun’s Metairie home is inspired by southern France.

Architect Dodie Smith, AIA, (C. Spencer Smith AIA, LLC) designed the home to pay homage to the simple farmhouses in Provence, a region of southeastern France; Tommy Gennusa (TAG Homes, Inc.), Gina’s brother, served as the contractor.

Cheryl Gerber Photographs

 “We love the certain elements about our home that make us feel like we are in Europe,” explains Gina Gennusa Piacun, as she relaxes in the large country kitchen of her home in an older section of Metairie. “We have always admired the farmhouses of Provence, a region of southeastern France, and we attempted to achieve the same look in our new home.”

The large house on a corner lot looks like it was transported from the countryside of France. “We have a French front door, and we even modeled the shutters after the style you find in France, with horizontal planks when they are open and vertical planks when closed, even the blue color we painted the shutters is also common in Provence.”

Step inside the vestibule and you will see a niche holding a statue of the Virgin Mother, then glance up the stairway to view a unique alter-like ledge with a life-size statue of St. Pierre and a smaller one of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus, while nearby are three large candles. The pair of 12-foot tall paintings on the stairway wall came from a church in Paris. Why the religious art and statues? “We are a humble couple who feels that faith and family are the most important parts of our lives,” Gina answers. “The sacred art and statues in our home have significant meaning to us.”

The magic of a comfortable European country home continues as you step into the spacious living room. A large limestone-faced fireplace, another often found feature in France, is the focal point of interest. Of special importance to the couple is the pottery that has a special place of honor throughout the home that was done by Gina’s mother, Janace Gennusa, who recently passed away.

Handsome French doors and a wall of windows that open onto an intimate courtyard on one side and a porch overlooking the side garden on the other side flood the dining room with light. “We enjoy dining with the doors open to the courtyard so we can hear the peaceful sound of the fountain,” she says. Eleven-foot high ceilings and reclaimed pine floors further add to the European feeling of the home.

“We like the open floor plan of our home and the various porches and yards” explains Joe, an attorney with Gennusa, Piacun & Ruli, where he formerly worked with Gina, also an attorney, who has taken time off to stay home with their three children: daughter, Parker, 10; and sons Grant, 8, and Palmer, 3.  

The entire back of the house accommodates a kitchen that pays homage to great European country kitchens with Carrera marble countertops, antique reclaimed terracotta tiles from France on the floor, and large reclaimed wood ceiling beams. “My favorite room in the house is our kitchen,” Joe says. “I love to cook and I enjoy being able to cook while our family and friends sit at the island and share what I cook, or just relax and sip wine sitting on the nearby sofa. My family is from Croatia, so I really like the rustic Mediterranean feeling of the kitchen. We purposely designed it to be large to serve as a gathering place.”

The couple gives high marks to their architect, interior designer and contractor, Dodie Smith, AIA (C. Spencer Smith, AIA, LLC). Smith explains, “Gina and Joe began the design process by showing me a book they loved. It wasn’t a book of gorgeous home pictures, but a book about the value of a simple way of life. Their home was further influenced by the importance of their close family ties.”

Regina Lynch (Ecru Antiques and Interiors on Magazine Street) served as the interior designer and helped the couple translate their wishes for a Provence farmhouse. “Regina was instrumental in helping me achieve the look that I wanted,” Gina says, “and she always kept in mind that we are a family with three young children.”

Tommy Gennusa (TAG Homes, Inc.), Gina’s brother, was the contractor for the project. “He is a fantastic builder and we were extremely pleased with the careful attention he paid to every detail,” Joe says without hesitation. “Working with my brother gave us the assurance that he would always be doing the right thing,” Gina adds. “He is a terrific home builder.”
“We are humbly grateful for our comfortable home that is kid friendly and ideal for sharing with our family and friends,” Gina says and Joe agrees and adds, “The house fulfills our every need, and it’s a pleasure to have such a nice kitchen.”

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