Time and Again
Thedining room and living room have a seamless blend of style. The diningtable is custom finished by Heidi Friedler Interiors and the chairs arefrom Villa Vici. The curtains—plain silk taffeta in the dining room,striped silk taffeta in the living room—were made by Pratt Inc. JohnChrestia and Blayne Laborde of Chrestia Staub Pierce helped Susan andLenny Wormser choose new furnishings and accessories.
The oldest house on Newcomb Boulevard, built around 1918, has only had three owners and has stood the test of time beautifully. The current inhabitants, the Wormser family, have a lively household, especially now after doing extensive work on the building. Today, looking at the warm, inviting façade out front, no one could even imagine the history of this area.
Before there were houses, children and aged trees lining the boulevard, there was Leland University in this spot, one of the earliest institutions to provide a college education for African Americans. Founded in 1871 by the American Baptist Missionary Society, Leland existed when the city was still segregated, but its faculty and student body were integrated.
The master bedroom was completely renovated and has a new look: Hinson “Bahama” fabric is used for the headboard, as well as for the curtains made by Renee LeJeune, who also made the blue linen bedskirt. The pillow shams are by Leontine Linens. Arteriors “Taylor” lamps in pearl opalescent glass with brown silk shades are placed on “Belladonna” mirrored chests by Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams—all are from Villa Vici. The Bohemian glass chandelier is from UDwell.
That rich history and all the many families that have lived on this stretch since then have contributed to the current family culture that permeates the block.
“This is a real neighborhood,” says Susan Wormser. “We have parties all together, and our neighborhood association meets twice a year. We feel really good here.”
The study/office is used by the whole Wormser family. The lime green ultra suede couch and ottoman are from Pottery Barn Teen. The tailored Roman shade in Osborne & Little fabric was made by Renee LeJeune.
The Wormsers bought their house 10 years ago, when the structure was sound, but almost everything else had to be upgraded, including electrical, plumbing and air conditioning. “My husband felt the piece of property was so valuable, and the size of the lot—75-feet-by-125-feet backing right up to Audubon Place—just made it even more desirable for us. We also like being steps away from Audubon Park, and a lot of
our family lives close by.”
Today the bright, airy first floor includes a large dining room, kitchen and living room and a sitting area near a charming stairway that leads to the upstairs bedrooms. Silk taffeta draperies, solid in the dining area and striped in the living room serve as the perfect backdrop for a handsome mix of contemporary and antique furnishings. It all fits neatly into the Wormsers’ design sensibilities, which Susan describes as “uncluttered, clean rich fabrics and clean lines.”
In Grayson Wormser’s room, dark colors give it a masculine feel and work well with his sports memorabilia. Brown and green fabric was sewn together to make a striped headboard. The pillow shams are from Leontine Linens.
The Wormsers added tall, decorative French doors on the front of the house, and removed the terra cotta steps in favor of flagstone. Architect John Chrestia, of Chrestia Staub Pierce Interiors & Architecture, who once describe Southern style as “gracious and eclectic with a strong architectural basis,” lived up to his own words in refashioning the Wormser home. Chrestia and his associate, Blayne Laborde, assisted Susan and Lenny Wormser in selecting artwork and furnishings. The results include a stunning Ida Kohlmeyer painting in the foyer acquired locally from Arthur Roger Gallery, as well as furnishings from Interior Designs II. A comfortable conversation area was created by the foyer fireplace with two “Palladio” chairs covered in Travers fabric.
Bright, fun hues were used in Mollie Wormser’s room. The white patent leather headboard gives it a classic but edgy style. The bright green curtains, turquoise double gourd lamps and a pillow made in David Hicks by Lee Jofa fabric add color and pattern. The painting is by Gretchen Howard.
Upstairs are four bedrooms, one used as a combination study/office. Ten-year-old Grayson’s bedroom is all-boy, styled in a sports motif. Nine-year-old Mollie’s room is feminine and colorful—both rooms were conceived by designer Heidi Friedler. The roomy master suite features handsome monogrammed linens from Leontine Linens and a custom Hinson “Bahama” cloth-covered headboard. The same fabric is used for the curtains.
To some people, the 3,200-square-foot house might seem “done.” But not to the Wormsers. “We still plan to renovate the kitchen and add another 10 to 15 feet, with a family room and a terrace,” says Susan. “The master bedroom will look over the terrace, and we want to add a pool.”
Inthe foyer are two “Palladio” chairs covered in a Travers fabric. TheAugousti parchment ring stool is from Interior Designs II.
The Wormsers have no plans to vacate their comfortable home. “We’re not leaving here,” Susan says. “We’re just going to use our space to make the house even more than it is now.” That commitment is even stronger since Katrina, when the Wormser house endured flooding in the basement and roof damage. Water behind the walls was a cause of concern, and resulted in the pulling out of all the old plaster. It seemed like a huge undertaking when they saw the house in October, just weeks after the storm, but John Chrestia with Anderson Construction as the contractors, got to work, and by April the family was back home.
The Wormsers: Mollie, Grayson, Susan and Lenny.
Still, to the crowd that gathered for dinner at the Wormser home this past New Year’s Eve, the house probably seemed spacious and complete. “We opened these French doors on the front, and our guests were able to wander out on to the porch and back inside the living and dining areas. It was wonderful.”
The oldest house on Newcomb Boulevard apparently has a lot of life left in it, and a few surprises to come.
The living room’s new furnishings give it an updated look. The blue couch from Interior Designs II is topped by pillows made in Donghia fabric. The cocktail table
was custom made. On top of the table is a glass piece by Gene Koss from Arthur Roger Gallery. The fluted amber lamp by C. Damien Fox is from Interior Designs II.