New Orleans is known for its eclectic style in just about everything, and area homes are certainly no exception. Whether you’re in the early stages of designing your home or merely redecorating, inserting a little New Orleans flavor into your living space can be a great way to display your appreciation of the unique character of the city. Subtle nods to the region’s history, such as a bit of ironwork, exposed brick or a French antique, are one way to make a statement and, for the more obvious enthusiast, a cache of fleur-de-lis designs or Mardi Gras-themed collections present another. As you plan a new look for your home, consider what you love about New Orleans and what the saying “there’s no place like home” means to you.
Margot Castaing of Maison de Luca Designs (mdlnola.com) is known for her work in redesigning and renovating homes. Castaing revels in taking run-down homes and stripping them to the studs before transforming them into magnificent new homes while maintaining their one-of-a-kind New Orleans architectural details. As well as renovations and new construction, Maison de Luca Designs also offers consulting and interior decorating services.
“My advice to someone remodeling or redecorating their home is to always have your eyes open, no matter where you are. Whether you’re walking the streets of the French Quarter or visiting someone else’s home, always study your surroundings,” Castaing says. “Living in New Orleans, I’m constantly inspired – especially when I’m least expecting it. It pays to step outside of your comfort zone while also honoring your own personal sense of style.”
Castaing’s latest obsession is finding great light fixtures, what she calls “jewelry for a room.” She encourages people to splurge on a showpiece chandelier or eye-catching wall sconces, objects that light up a room with more than, well, light.
Elaine Cullen of The Curtain Exchange (TheCurtainExchange.com) emphasizes the importance of curtains and window treatments in supporting your designs and tying the decorative theme of a room together. The Curtain Exchange is a boutique of designer-quality, ready-to-hang curtains, and they also offer custom curtains and hardware, shades and bedding.
“New Orleans is known for its gracious homes, and curtains are an essential ingredient to a finished room. Nothing accompanies the perfect curtain in New Orleans better than iron hardware, echoing the fine ironwork for which the city is famous,” says Cullen. The Curtain Exchange, located at 3936 Magazine St., also offers seasonal colors and fabrics for those wanting to create an autumn atmosphere. “Right now,” says Cullen, “the store is filled with fabulous silk curtains in wonderful fall shades of gold, russet and bronze perfect for the season.”
Having worked in interior design for 25 years, Kathy Slater of Kathy Slater Interiors & Antiques (KathySlater.com) developed her own way to add New Orleans flavor to a room. Slater saw a need for a good-quality coffee table at a reasonable cost and set out to create a line of such tables inspired by and created in
Slater explains, “My first design, the Audubon table, is a hand-painted iron table with a travertine or marble top. The table is fabricated in New Orleans, the hand-painted finishes are done in New Orleans and the materials for the tops are from local New Orleans vendors.” Slater finishes the Audubon with aged gold or aged silver, adding a rich, textured look to the elegant design.
Her first design then led to more – the Napoleon table, iron with an antiqued mirror top; the Chartres table, which features a curved iron leg with hoof foot; and the Newcomb and St. Charles tables, which are made from hand-painted wood. “The tables are great complements to New Orleans homes and their sleek designs contrast nicely with the rich woods of the beautiful French antiques we also offer.” Slater has new designs in the works and looks forward to displaying them in her showroom at 3954 Magazine St.
For Slater, the signature New Orleans look is a combination of French antiques and local contemporary pieces. She suggests finding local fabrics, antiques and art that you like, and doing so will allow you to stay true to New Orleans while also showing off your personal style.
Stephen Sonnier of Dunn & Sonnier Antiques (DunnandSonnierAntiques.com) couldn’t agree more. Sonnier remarks, “What I’ve always loved about this city in regards to interior design is that people are so diverse – they’ll have a street-artist painting hanging over their museum-quality French antique. Next to that, you’ll find something a local artist made out of junk.” Sonnier appreciates the irreverence and what he calls “the crusty feeling of the old world – decayed but still elegant.” Like Slater, he also encourages people to buy what they like, noting that a piece you enjoy will be a pleasure to fit into a room, regardless of its period or origin.
Dunn & Sonnier Antiques, located at 2138 Magazine St., offers new pieces and accessories as well as one-of-a-kind antiques, and for the fall season they’ve brought in a new shipment of pottery and glasses that work well in tandem with the creative floral designs of Dunn & Sonnier Flowers (DunnandSonnierFlowers.com). Sonnier enjoys adding New Orleans flair to arrangements by including local foliage, magnolias and southern garden favorites. If you plan to host a fall football gathering or winter holiday party, a carefully crafted floral arrangement is sure to add color and charm.
In New Orleans, there’s no question that entertaining comes with the territory. Between Mardi Gras, Saints games, year-round festivals and countless attractions, there’s always a reason for people to get together. Whether you’re entertaining your friends for a casual gathering or hosting visitors for a weekend vacation, your home is bound to be a hub of activity. Another way of adding New Orleans flavor to your home is making it entertainment-ready.
“Our clients around the region love to entertain guests, “says Don Wise of Louisiana Custom Closets (LouisianaCustomClosets.com), “and having your home organized adds to the ease of preparation while also giving the home a serene and stress-free atmosphere.” For over 18 years, Louisiana Custom Closets has tailored closets and pantries, making shelves, hampers and hutches. Wise carefully plans each project alongside the customer, making sure they create the perfect space for the customer’s need.
“Closets should be more than shelves and a rack for clothes, and accessories such as valet rods, belt and tie racks, hook racks and more are a nice touch in completing an organized space,” Wise suggests. With leading technology and software for design, Louisiana Custom Closets is able to provide clients with computer-generated images before custom-building each closet. They also offer free in-home consultations with their experienced design consultants.
According to these various design professionals, showing pride in your home can and should be harmonious with showing pride in your hometown. New Orleans is unlike any place on earth and thrives on its blend of cultures and rich history.
This year, why not add a little flavor of the melting pot into your home? Add a touch of your own personal taste, and the recipe for your home design will be as true to you as your personal recipe for gumbo.