A Reflection of our Character

Kerri McCaffety
A palette of soft greens|!!| blues and whites lends an ethereal calm to Tanga Winstead’s dining room. The chandelier is made of iridescent abalone shells. The table|!!| from Villa Vici on Magazine Street|!!| was made in France using antique pine. The 18th-century Gustavian sideboard came from Ma Puce Antiques. An 1803 map of the colony from the Historic New Orleans Collection hangs above it.

The Uptown home of designer Tanga Winstead is the epitome of eclectic the way eclectic is done in New Orleans. The bargeboard cottage shows classic turn-of-the-century features and maps out its own history from a double to a corner sweet shop to a single. Inside this interesting old shell, each piece of furniture and art tells a story about its owner and about the city.

I asked Winstead why New Orleans interiors are unlike those of any other city in the world.

TW: Here more than anywhere else, houses reflect the personalities of the people who live in them. Our houses, like our people, are characters. We feel a need to express individuality.

New Orleans style is inviting like its people. It represents a mélange of color, texture, local art, music and decorative objects unique to the area. Here, people have collections; from the Bohemian approach to the well-decorated interior, you see family pieces, found objects and mementos. We mix old and new. We are not afraid to combine priceless antiques with inexpensive objects. We make art out of Mardi Gras ball invitations and parts of costumes. We have a love of sentimental items, but we use them instead of putting them on a shelf to collect dust or only bringing them out for that rare special occasion.

KM: Interior design in New Orleans seems to be influenced by the mixing of extremes around us — Greek Revival mansions shoulder to shoulder with ramshackle cottages. Our lives and our neighborhoods have less formal zoning than other places. I also see in many homes, like yours, a lot of contemporary art by local artists.

TW: New Orleans style takes the best of history and mixes it with modern touches like a pure white palette with unexpected bursts of color.

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