The first things you notice about this Old Metairie house are its soft elegance and meticulous attention to detail. Home to interior designer Patricia Brinson and her husband Vernon, it is perfectly appointed and layered. From its manicured lawn and drive to its verdant patio and pool, nothing is amiss. But this is also a house where beauty and comfort go hand in hand, where family and friends are entertained regularly and where settling down and sinking in are warmly encouraged. “The house has a formality, but it’s also very casual,” says Patricia. “It has an easy flow that works really well for us. We entertain a lot—inside and outside. We’re drawn to the garden and the view.”
In part, the house’s livability was born of the fact that when the Brinsons purchased it a decade ago, they had two teenagers living at home. “A single man was living here before so we had to modify it to make it more of a family house,” says Patricia, noting that closets were added, laundry facilities were moved, and bookshelves were added throughout. Working with renovation expert Michael Carbine, the owners simultaneously gave the 1930s two-story cottage a more classical feel by adding architectural features such as moldings and pilasters.
Style & SymmetryA 30-year veteran of the residential decorating business (she and business partner Alix Rico started their firm, Design Source, 24 years ago) and long a proponent of equally timeless furnishings, Patricia then worked her particular brand of magic—marrying backdrop and décor with seamless finesse. “My style has remained the same over the years,” says Patricia. “There are some things that just work in every room. I love beautiful curtains, pretty chandeliers and light-colored, upholstered pieces with silk pillows.” French antiques, which Rico imports, a mix of antique and contemporary artworks, and an obvious appreciation for landscaped views factor prominently into her polished look as well. The pool and patio, landscaped by local expert René Fransen and later given some finishing touches by Michael McClung of Four Seasons Landscape, are visible from nearly every room in the house, as is a sweeping panorama of the Metairie Country Club golf course, which abuts the property. The result? Empty nest homeowners with a seldom empty house. The couple frequently gives parties for family and friends, plays host to two of their grandchildren, ages 12 and 9, and has made the house available for fund-raisers and tours.
Though formal, the living and dining rooms, which are centrally located and passed through countless times a day, have an ease that belies their elegance. An antique Oushak and roomy upholstered pieces, some slipcovered for a relaxed effect, anchor the living room, which is painted a pale cream. Old and new—a metal and wood chandelier and a fauteuil from antiques dealer Tara Shaw, a large nude by artist George Dunbar, a triptych of abstract canvases by Adele Sypestyn, a gold leaf occasional table by the late Christopher Maier, pairs of antique sconces from Italy and France, a chest-top vignette of silver collectibles, and family photographs—brush elbows, producing an acquired-over-time look, the kind that’s handed down through generations of genteel living.
Style & SymmetryThe dining room, located next to the living room, is perhaps the most traditional of all the rooms, outfitted entirely with fine antiques purchased locally. Like the family room and master bedroom, it overlooks the garden via a large mullioned window and opens onto a raised wooden deck that leads down to the flagstone patio surrounding the pool. Local artist Gretchen Howard painted the cove ceiling using a silver-leaf base topped with a gold wash. From its center, hangs an Italian crystal chandelier from Carbine’s Magazine Street antiques business, Mac Maison. Below it, Patricia paired an antique French table with six Italian painted chairs upholstered with French ticking. On one end of the room, an antique painted chest topped with a trumeau serves as a buffet; on the other, a buffet a deux corps provides storage.
Next door, in the family room and adjacent kitchen, the sand-colored mixture of cement and limestone used for both the kitchen counters and the mantle provided inspiration for the warm, neutral palette used for the walls and curtains. Because the family spends most of its together in the family room, Patricia outfitted the room with plenty of seating, combining a beige cotton-velvet sofa with a chair and ottoman covered in a striped floral linen by Colefax & Fowler, and a painted Regency chair. Touches of animal print, silk pillows found at Mrs. Howard, a fashionable home furnishings store in Jacksonville, Fla., and shapely lamps with distressed gold finishes add chic accents to the more traditional notes of the room.
The master bedroom—like the family room and indeed much of the house—yields a soothing outdoor view. But its serenity also is due to its floor-to-ceiling color scheme of downy creams and whites. Patricia used Benjamin Moore color 956 on the walls, a Wilton carpet on the floor and a tiny, silk-taffeta check for the curtains. The focal point of the furnishings is a king size, Italianate, four-post bed, which Patricia had custom-made and painted. Opposite the bed are built-in bookshelves, a pair of club chairs upholstered in an off-white chenille and a tufted, animal print ottoman. The antique French desk was acquired through Rico, while the chandelier and the toile-covered bergere are paired with the desk that belonged to Patricia’s mother. “We keep the curtains open always,” says Patricia, who, like her husband, relishes the tranquil vista. “The view takes you away from the fact that you’re only eight minutes from the city.” •