After designer Melinda McSpadden posted photos of an historic kitchen and powder room makeover on social media, local homeowners Andrea and Lena Rubin decided she was the perfect person to decorate their home. “Andrea and Lena gave me free reign with this design project by saying, ‘Just make it look like a place where you would live,’ and I was able to create the space from scratch,” McSpadden says.
Andrea, who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, moved to New Orleans in 1999 and now considers the city home. Meanwhile, Lena is from Houston but grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The two young professionals have a toddler, three dogs and a cat. “Creating spaces for each of our needs was key,” Andrea says. “I like to host guests but don’t necessarily want everyone in our personal space. I’ve known Melinda for years, and I love her aesthetic.”
As owner of McSpadden Interiors, the designer approaches each project by first considering her clients’ needs, their personalities and lifestyle, and how they wish to use their space. “In this case, these two extraordinary mothers both work full time, and they somehow manage to raise a precocious four year old and four pets,” McSpadden says. “As a couple, Lena and Andrea are very playful and full of exuberance, so I wanted to create a space that reflected these attributes. I looked to create a joyful, functional home that didn’t take itself too seriously.”
For this nearly 2,300-square-foot 1940s Arts and Crafts double shotgun, the homeowners wanted to use the front room as a true living room — all while delineating the adult and toddler spaces. While Andrea and Lena agreed that they wanted a cozy home, Lena wanted the living room to make a statement. Meanwhile, Andrea wanted a quiet sanctuary in which to retreat after a long day. The homeowners also looked to McSpadden to help clarify their vision by coalescing individual elements in their home.
In order to accomplish these goals, McSpadden chose to incorporate key pieces throughout the individual spaces. “We distilled everything down to a few favorite pieces of furniture and artwork that had sentimental value,” McSpadden says. “One of the items of furniture was a beautiful antique nut-and-bolt cabinet that Andrea’s parents purchased from a hardware store in Tupelo, Mississippi. It has all of these wonderful little drawers with brass handles and stenciled numbers. I used that piece as the inspiration for the living room and built around it, adding a midcentury modern leather sofa, a brass pendant light fixture and a bright geometric Turkish kilim.”
McSpadden also created a whimsical open space in the study, a room that functions as an office and also as a meditation and exercise room. Meanwhile, the master bedroom serves as a velvety rich retreat for Andrea. “Hands down, my favorite room is the bedroom,” Andrea says. “It’s a cozy cocoon.”
The home already had good bones thanks to gorgeous original pine flooring, wood ceiling beams, built-in shelving that divides the living and dining rooms, and exposed brick fireplaces. McSpadden chose to accentuate the ceiling beams, the hardwood floors and the exposed brick by introducing complementary textures and colors like leather, natural wood, grasscloth and woven fabrics.
For example, McSpadden highlighted the exposed brick and beautiful hand-carved mantle in the dining room with two panels of grasscloth wallpaper that tie together the brick and wood in an elegant manner. She also kept the window treatments light and airy by using bamboo Roman shades and raw cotton panels, both of which work with the rustic features of the room.
McSpadden also enlisted the help of Victor Ramos, owner of VR Home Improvements, for some minor renovations. They replaced two false windows in the master bath with new drywall and updated mirrors. They also replaced a non-functional closet in the study with modular shelving. “I also wanted to create a soft wall in the bedroom to separate the large walk-in closet from the bedroom, so we installed floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains along the dividing brick wall,” McSpadden says.
While the hardwood floors were in excellent condition, McSpadden needed a budget-friendly solution for the travertine tiles in the hallway between the kitchen and the study. “Rather than removing the flooring, we hand-painted the tiles in a checkerboard design with epoxy paint,” she says. “It not only saved the homeowners money, but it looks great and adds a bit of glamour and pizzazz.”
McSpadden also painted every room and installed new light fixtures throughout the entire house. “The overall style leans toward a playful bohemian bungalow with lots of natural light and brights pops of color throughout,” she says.
While the overall color scheme for the home is neutral, McSpadden wanted there to be a transition from light to dark from one room to the next. “When I gave the homeowners a choice between a light olive green, a warm stone gray or the dramatic dark peacock blue for the hallway, they emphatically requested the blue,” she says. “It’s dramatic and unexpected, and it sets the tone for the back portion of the house.”
“I’m more of a logical, practical mind, whereas Lena likes the dramatic,” Andrea says. “The color scheme is a perfect mix of both of us.”
In the kitchen, McSpadden updated the light fixtures and replaced the existing heavy wood island with a more elegant French marble-top island. “We also fabricated muntins for the window in the kitchen to create the illusion of individual window panes,” she says. “We installed the bubblegum pink pendant and matching cabinet interiors to add a bit of sass.”
Overall, with the help of McSpadden and Ramos, the homeowners now have a safe haven where they can unwind after a hectic day. However, this bright and happy home also serves as a refined space where they can entertain friends.
“As a shotgun, it can be hard to delineate spaces,” Andrea says. “But the design has allowed us to enjoy the grownup side without sacrificing having a family with Legos and dogs and cats. It’s a multi-use house to be sure.”