Family ChicOutside the tucked-away Garden District New Orleans home the air is crisp, almost biting, but inside there is nothing but warmth. Anyone who has ever wondered how to combine comfortable family living with stylized design and quality aesthetics need look no further than the 2,800-square-foot domain of Jennifer and John Rareshide. On this chilly evening, the Rareshides’ two daughters, Caroline, 4 1/2, and Christine, 2 1/2, are comfortably ensconced in their powder blue child-size easy chairs, in front of the flat-screen TV, mesmerized by Dorothy and company in “The Wizard of Oz.” The parents, after a hard week’s work, are enjoying their first glass of pinot noir from John’s respectable, well-studied wine collection, housed in temperature-controlled cabinets.
Family ChicVisitors enter the property through the manicured, generously sized front courtyard. The glassed-in dining room faces it—once a front porch, the home’s previous owner, local architect John Chrestia, exercised his well-known eye for elegance by enclosing it.

“This is such a great room for us,” Jennifer says.
“Guests on one side of the table can overlook the entire courtyard, while those with their backs to the courtyard still see it through the mirror on the opposite wall.” The oversized antique mirror frame was painted by local artist Jennifer Uddo. Originally black, Uddo silver-leafed the entire frame and went over it with an amber glaze. The Swedish Gustavian dining table, circa 1850, came from  Ann Koerner Antiques. The chairs, in the same style, have Rogers and Goffigan silk and velvet backs, with velvet seats from the same designer. Discreetly placed in the corner of the room is a piece of Dale Chihuly glass art, acquired locally through Arthur Roger Gallery.

Family ChicThe Rareshides’ love of fine art and eclecticism is evident throughout with pieces by George Dunbar, Ida Kohlmeyer, John Alexander, Pierre Marie Brisson, and Sabine Di Grazia exquisitely placed and hung by John Pecorino, the man who has organized and hung art in so many local homes. “Donna Rosen, who used to own Galerie Simonne Stern on Julia Street, really introduced us to the art world in New Orleans,” says Jennifer.

“When I moved here, I really fell in love with the art scene.”

The expansive great room features a soft gray washed wooden floor and geometrically-inspired high ceilings. Two stylized white upholstered chairs share space with two Mitchell Gold sofas from Villa Vici, and one from John’s grandmother. The latter was recently recovered with the assistance of Sally Newhart, a Massachusetts resident who moved here after the storm to help gut houses, and like so many others, decided to stay. “Ann Koerner introduced us, and she came over and helped us select fabrics. Sally does beautiful custom slipcovers.”

Family ChicA standout piece in the great room is a round Italian-made table from Ann Koerner, along with stylized, sculptured lamps by New Orleans native Elaine Gleason. Gleason’s work also shows up in an artistic light fixture in the first-floor powder room, along with a David Borgerding iron vanity and a stunning Murano mirror. Borgerding’s work is also seen in the railing that leads to the second floor, where the imaginatively-conceived children’s bedrooms share space with a guest room and Jennifer’s home office. John’s home office is downstairs adjacent to the master bedroom that features a headboard covered with blue fabric (John’s favorite color) from Plush Home in Houston. The curtains and cornice resulted from a collaboration with Kelly Porter at Probst Decorating on Magazine Street.

Family Chic“This was a small house that we turned into a camelback,” says John. “We were limited by the property line, so we couldn’t have a large master bedroom. That’s why we settled on so many cabinets and built-ins, trying the make the most of the space. My brother-in-law, Jim MacPhaille, helped us maximize the space.”

To Jennifer, the master bath was a priority. “I wanted a spa bathtub with Koehler waterfall faucets that I had seen in a Gwyneth Paltrow movie,” she says. The couple settled on travertine tile with inlaid Lyric glass tiles. “I wanted the bathroom to have a feeling of total relaxation, like a Mediterranean beach,” Jennifer says.

Family ChicAttention to detail is evident in every room of this house. While the girls may be too young to notice, Jennifer and John chose fine English-made Colefax and Fowler fabrics for their rooms. “I love to go find beautiful fabrics, trims and ribbons, and then decide what we can do with them later,” Jennifer says. I walk into the girls’ rooms and they are truly wonderlands to me. It’s my Cinderella space.” An upstairs bedroom is also the site of another Murano mirror.

Like so many other New Orleans families, the back story is sometimes as compelling as the present. Jennifer was a Texas girl, who studied at the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre schools before spending several years dancing professionally with the Joffrey Ballet in New York. John was a New Orleans boy who grew up on Napoleon Avenue and attended Jesuit High School. Today, Jennifer is in pharmaceutical sales, and John is in real estate. But their true passion is just inside the front door of the comfortable, well-appointed Garden District house they have called home for eight years.