A leisurely drive just off of Metairie Road was all it took for Melanie Bordelon, an antiques dealer, interior decorator and owner of La Jolie Antiques & Interiors, and her husband, Alvin, an attorney, to find their dream home.
Melanie was driving by her future Metairie neighborhood one afternoon when she spotted a home under construction on a corner lot. “I drove by, and I walked through it,” she says. “It was all open, and there were workers in it, and I asked if it was for sale.”
The couple had begun to search for a new home a few months earlier after deciding that their nearly 100-year-old Victorian home on Soniat Street might be too much for them in the future. “We thought over time that the upkeep on it might be quite expensive, so we decided we wanted new construction,” Melanie says. “We wanted something that we didn’t have to think about when we think about retirement.”
Having her antiques store so close to the home was also a factor in making her decision, as was the proximity to all of her clients’ homes, which she is used to visiting and decorating. The couple says they have always loved the “old neighborhood” feel of Metairie.
But it was the open floor plan that really made this house the home the Bordelons were looking for. “I think the most important thing of the house, and it was when I found it, is the floor plan and the flow of the house,” Melanie says. “It works very well for us. It accommodates us. I think that’s why we liked it. The living room, the den, the dining room, the breakfast area all flow nicely together, and we do a lot of family functions here.”
This is particularly important to Melanie and Al’s most important guests, their four children –– each has a son and a daughter from a previous marriage –– and nine grandchildren (and one on the way), who all gather at the home for birthdays and holidays. “We fill up this house when they’re all here,” she says. “We love that part of it.”
The couple also had a quaint, serene pool installed in the backyard for their grandchildren. “The kids love the pool,” Melanie says.
Besides the floor plan, Melanie’s favorite feature of the house has to be its overall style, which was important to her because she makes her living buying and selling French and European antiques. “The house had the style that I was looking for,” she says. “A lot of my furniture lends to that style, so it fit well.”
Following the 18 inches of water that flooded their home during Hurricane Katrina –– just seven moths after they moved in –– the Bordelons packed up and moved upstairs while they underwent renovations. While repairing the damage, Melanie took the opportunity to make a few changes to the home she didn’t get the chance to make previously. “The floors on the bottom [level] were beautiful,” she says.
“They were antique pine, but to give it more of that Old World look, I thought travertine would be better.”
Another feature the couple wanted to change was an office the builder had put in the middle of the house. “I already had living room furniture, so I wanted to definitely use that in this house,” says Melanie. She had the wall in between the den and the living room knocked out to make room for her furniture, fitting her needs a little better.
The living room is now Melanie’s favorite room in the entire house. “It’s definitely a woman’s room,” she says. But her second favorite is the dining room, thanks to an antique dining room table that she and her daughter, Vicki Licciardi, purchased on a buying trip to France. “It fits the room perfectly,” says Melanie.
In fact, the magnitude of the Bordelons’ antiques is astounding when Melanie points them all out. One of the most outstanding pieces, an 18th-century walnut Régence commode that was purchased in Provence, graces the den. Also in the den hangs a gorgeous antique chandelier purchased in Paris. The hall features a Salvador Dali original, a Matisse original and several other pieces of unique art the couple has collected on their travels.
The master bedroom cozily fits with the rest of the home’s European style. The bed was handmade by Ken Udin, who used have a shop on Tchoupitoulas Street. “He made it out of hand-forged fence from France,” Melanie says.
One special touch Melanie wanted to include for her husband when decorating the house was to honor his love of fishing. To do this, she took photos from an old book titled Fish of Louisiana. She framed all of the prints and hung them in the keeping room.
Overall, the Bordelons agree that their home is still all about their family. “I’ve been really blessed with an opportunity to have a beautiful home,” Melanie says. “But what I enjoy most about our home is the opportunity to be able to share it.” Home sweet home, indeed.