House of Hues
Palette pleasing in the Lower Garden District
Lyn and Harry Anderson have lived in multiple houses over the years. “Every time we needed to paint, we moved,” says Lyn, who inherited a penchant for moving and decorating from her late mother, and makes the claim only slightly in jest. The impetus for the latest move was a bit different. At the suggestion of their daughter, Elizabeth Rousell, the Andersons moved into a large double Victorian in the Lower Garden District – with Elizabeth, her husband John and their two children on the other side. The color palette was a departure as well. While the Andersons’ previous homes were restrained in their use of color, usually against a neutral backdrop, this one takes color and pattern to another level. “We put color everywhere,” says Lyn. “Throughout the whole room.”
For help decorating the house, Lyn called her friend of 50 years, decorator Mary Ferry Bigelow, who also worked on the Andersons’ last house. The two share a love of color and are both in creative businesses. Bigelow has been in the design business for four decades and makes elegant paper white arrangements for sale during the holidays. Anderson, whose creative path included her own catering business, now owns Pop Up Party Town Tents, which rents imaginative themed play tents for childrens’ parties.
Because the house had been renovated seven years earlier, the framework was in place. Original architectural elements, including a carved wooden staircase, exterior gingerbread, floor to ceiling windows, wooden floors and fireplaces provide a warm, historic backdrop. Even the pale neutral color of the walls was a keeper. Since the house was a downsize for the couple who collected antiques and art over the years, and inherited others from Lyn’s parents, furnishing it was a no-brainer. That left room for decorator and client to play with color and motif. “I told Mary, ‘we’re going to do the whole place — this is our last stop,’” says Lyn, who relishes living next door to her grandchildren.
|Lyn and Harry Anderson with their dogs, Jack (l) and Taco||The antique console and mirror in the foyer have travelled with the Andersons from home to home over the years; the chandelier was in the home when they purchased it.|
|Built in the 1880s, the large Victorian double is believed to have been built by a father for several generations of his family.||The Andersons refer to the canopy above the bed as “the float” because it reminds them of a Mardi Gras float; pink/green print fabric for bedspread and curtains by Duralee; green/white lattice linen on dust ruffle and shams, green/white dot on bench and fuzzy dot on chair, by Kravet; plaid for table skirt by Lilly Pulitzer for Lee Jofa.|
|In keeping with the rest of the house, the exterior is punched with color; zigzag patterned rug, from Lowe’s; fabric for cushions, pillows and curtains from Ballard Designs.||The Andersons eat at the kitchen counter or at a small dining table for two tucked away near the stairs.|
|Striped wallpaper by Osborne & Little was the starting point for the powder room; Bigelow suggested the circus tent ceiling design, the river rock surface on the vanity, and metallic vanity skirt; chandelier from New Orleans Auction, mirror from Crescent City Auction; the antique prints on the wall were a gift from Bigelow.||Turquoise and greens were the colors of choice for the living room; the settee in the foreground is covered with a turquoise chenille by Manuel Canovas; the curtains are a leaf pattern fabric by Kravet; giraffe print on chair and ottoman by Calvin Fabrics. Pillows on settee covered with fabrics by Manuel Canovas and Romo; all trims by Samuel & Sons; an abstract by Allison Stewart hangs above an antique chest handed down from Lyn’s parents.|
Fabrics and wallpaper from Manuel Canovas, Kravet, Osborne & Little, Duralee, Harlequin and other well-known names became the springboards for most of the color selections inside. The exception is the upstairs sitting room (purple with a pale green ceiling), which was inspired by a room decorated by Billy Baldwin, Lyn’s favorite interior designer. In the Andersons’ version of the space, Bigelow used a Manuel Canovas fabric for the curtains and a pair of Billy Baldwin slipper chairs and created an entertainment center with IKEA components painted the same purple as the walls.
Other ideas evolved spontaneously during the collaboration. When the friends chose a striped wallpaper for the powder room, Bigelow designed the ceiling to look like a whimsical circus tent and found an unusual metal chandelier at New Orleans Auction. Neither was fond of the rustic vanity that already existed in the room, so Bigelow suggested resurfacing it with river rocks, adding a glossy polyurethane finish and dressing it with a metallic skirt.
The comfortable sitting room was done with Harry in mind. His ham radio occupies a corner near the windows and the piano he plays daily is on the landing just outside the room. The master bedroom and adjoining bath are a more feminine retreat with traditional antiques and shades of pink and green.
Works, by a variety of artists, including Alison Stewart, Stephanie Schoen, Lyn’s sister-in-law Gretchen Howard, her late uncles Wing Howard and Frank Howard, Jimmy Block and Luis Colmenares add a final layer of color and form. “Using a person’s art and objets is what makes a house a home and gives it character,” says Bigelow. “It reflects the way a person thinks and feels and lives.”
The fact that the house has returned to the multifamily use for which it was originally built in the late 19th century makes it a happy haven for the Andersons as well.
“We believe that this house and several others nearby were built by a father for several generations of his family,” says Lyn. “And now we are using it in the same way again.”