A Inspired Blend

Old World, vintage and modern influences shine in a French Quarter townhouse.
Photographed by Sara Essex Bradley
Custom Art Deco dining table by Century; vintage dining chairs upholstered in Beacon Hill Silk velvet in Topaz; antique sideboard.

Decorating in the French style brings to mind an image of elegance, romance and beauty. As in France, houses in the New Orleans have high ceilings with great architectural details. Balconies with a wrought-iron railings overlook quaint streets. Windows are tall. Pedestrians bustle by on the streets outside.

Typically, New Orleanians love to furnish their homes using French antiques from the 18th or 19th centuries, or reproductions from the 20th and 21st century. This Parisian style ranges through many decorating periods, including Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical. Contemporary Parisian interior design incorporates Art Deco and Mediterranean, combining Old World, vintage and modern influences.

Vintage 1920s print; vintage French Deco black lacquer dining chairs with new upholstery; antique sideboard with a collection of vintage cut crystal and decanters.


The French Art Deco look incorporates rich jewel-tone colors: amber, topaz, citrine, amethyst and smoky quartz are accented with black, white and gold. Burnished gilt touches accent architectural details. Furniture and accessories have timeworn elegance and a vintage look.
Chairs, tables and armoires painted in black or cream bear golden accents that are used to blend beautifully. Rich, shimmering silks and luxurious brocades and velvets complete this upscale look. Accessories include vintage French posters. Black is the accent color as well as a unifying element. Bringing black in without making things look dark is accomplished by using painted and wood furniture, gilt and black picture frames, wallpapers, fabrics, lamps and accessories.

When Adrienne Colella and Angelo DeNisi, clients of interior designer Penny Francis called her telling her that they were moving from their larger Uptown home to a townhouse in the French Quarter, she had a challenging task at hand. Francis says, “The couple had a great deal of vintage Art Deco and Mid-Century furnishings. We reupholstered many of the pieces. The color palette was inspired by their love of a Cole and Son large-scale floral paper. The tones in the flowers, including the amber, were paired beautifully with the Art Deco dining chairs we had previously covered in topaz silk velvet. There were collection Asian artifacts, Asian prints and 1920s art. The challenge was to use what we could and not have competing elements. The goal was to have a cohesive design, so that the pieces could be appreciated now that they were being shown in a smaller more intimate environment.” The idea of mixing in elements of French Art Deco and Paris apartment style instantly came to Francis’ mind.

Vintage French farm table is paired with a gilt Bergere chair covered in Schumacher Fabric.

In the breakfast room a vintage farm table; Italian modern acrylic and chrome bistro chairs; vintage Camille Bouchet 1920 Poster; Bevelo Iron chandelier.

 In the kitchen, vintage Chambers Stove and Hood; Cabinets were repainted and a backsplash of beveled Carrera marble subway tile was installed.

She did a gentle and deft renovation, updating and redoing a master bathroom; repainting kitchen cabinets and adding a new tile backsplash; relocating built-ins; refinishing floors, and adding fresh wall color and wallpapers. The townhouse had good bones that had been previously renovated. Francis saw no reason to do a gut job. In fact, the downstairs bathroom has Art Deco style fixtures and tile from the 1940s that remain, updated by the use of witty black-and-white wallpaper.

The entry hall sets the tone for the entire home with Cole and Son wallpaper and a carved Asian console table paired with an antique Eglomise Mirror.

Custom brass and Carrera marble oval cocktail table.

Cole and Son Fornasetti Malachite wallpaper compliments the original vintage fixtures and vintage glazed ceramic wall tiles.

In the living room a pair of Jean Michel Frank sofas reupholstered in Clarke and Clarke striped velvet; rug by Calvin Klein; custom Dorothy Draper cabinets by Kindel; contemporary brass teardrop lamps mix perfectly with vintage marble sculpture on pedestal; antique Asian prints and an Art Deco painting by August Garufi over black marble fireplace.

The den features a black suede sectional sofa with a vintage Noguchi coffee table and an antique crystal chandelier.

The master bedroom has a seating area using the couple’s Mid-Century Modern furnishings, including a vintage Eames lounge chair; Francis paired a Mid-Century vintage sofa with a custom glass cocktail table to complete the look.

The same approach was used in regards to the couple’s furniture. A pair of sofas was recovered in rich striped velvet. The entry hall features dramatic black and metallic wallpaper. New lamps and lighting fixtures that resemble Art Deco design were liberally used throughout the space, along with antique crystal chandeliers. The spectacular dining room table from the former home was moved to the French Quarter, and the coordinating chairs refreshed and reupholstered with luxe silk velvet fabric.

The breakfast room features a large vintage French poster along with a farmhouse-style table, juxtaposed with modern acrylic and chrome chairs. Black built-in cabinetry custom installed in the den adds glamour, while the couple’s art collection was lovingly curated with an expert eye. Windows have rich flowing drapery, and there is an elegant and exuberant mix of old and new: traditional design offset by Art Deco and modern elements that are tres chic.




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