Stepping into this Uptown Riverbend abode, one instantly feels it could have been inhabited by Rudyard Kipling himself. With the help of interior decorator Priscilla Jordan, this bachelor pad has the air of the well-traveled man, full of eclectic objects from far-flung adventures, family sepia portraits and an immense historical book collection. There is a local influence as well, with many James Audubon prints decorating the pale walls. The flat, says Jordan, is nothing if not a great example of creative use of space. Despite its size of approximately 300 square feet, built-in partitions in varying heights divide what would otherwise be an open studio floor plan into separate rooms, each with their own distinct personality.
“The changing partition heights add depth,” says Jordan, “and they also create voice barriers for when he entertains.” Jordan says the homeowner regularly has about six people over for dinner, and although the immense round table is just feet from the living room couch, nothing about this space is cramped. Indeed, sitting on one of the six antique American dining chairs is an entirely separate experience than sitting on the chocolate brown sofa across the room.
Thanks to many windows and a ceiling sky opening, the home is bright and filled with natural light, so instead of overhead lights that could use up a lot of space, the homeowner decided to use small table lamps and wall sconces. A pair of 18th century Medusa-head armed sconces, which flank the sofa and have their original crystals, bathe the room in soft light and reflect beautifully from the antique over mantle mirror above the dining room table.
“This space is a space where people enjoy being, without feeling like it’s too small,” says Jordan.
Tucked behind a white closet door in the living room is further evidence of the homeowner’s entertaining proclivities. The doors swing open to reveal an ultra-modern bar of black leather with suede shelves, topped by whimsical white candelabras from a journey to New York. Champagne and wine bottles abound, while soft lighting peeks from below the bar, highlighting a large maritime painting above it.
When asked how long it took to completely decorate the home, Jordan laughs. “It turned out to be magic,” she says. “He already owned all of the furniture, but it came from a much larger home. We just started pulling things out of storage; it wasn’t really planned. But everything just fit. I mean, how does that happen?”
The furniture was originally in the homeowner’s expansive home further Uptown, but was put into storage before an extensive trip abroad. Upon returning to New Orleans, he decided to move into this smaller space, but still wanted this home to have a similar cozy feel as his previous one. Jordan thought a similar color palette throughout the home would work best, and also would utilize the furniture already available. Some final touches were needed, however, to make the space truly finished.
“The house wasn’t complete until we brought in the rugs,” laughs Jordan.
The rugs she refers to are the antique Oriental and Persian pieces in varying shapes, sizes and color. Scattered throughout the living and dining areas, they create a very cohesive space. Their bright cayenne colors make a bold statement against the somewhat neutral walls and furniture, and are an interesting texture and pattern combination with the velvet zebra-print fabric found on the ottoman and pillows. The hints at the animal kingdom can also be found on a chair in the dining room, situated against the wall next to an English walnut tall case clock.
This juxtaposition of traditional pieces with more modern fabrics and silhouettes is what makes the home work, and prevents it from feeling overly done or preconceived. The combination of colors, furniture, textiles and even art make it feel almost accidental, and in a way it is, says Jordan. A French daybed finds its home under a German painting of an icy mountain; Italian chairs mingle with an American sofa; the kitchen is divided from the rest of the room by built-in bookshelves that house volumes of political biographies, classical music jewel cases and a early edition of Winston Churchill’s World Crisis series.
The many books, from fictional to art history to historical, found throughout the home make it apparent a bibliophile resides here, and an antique bookcase with glassed-in shelves leads from the living room into the bedroom. Replete with items from previous travels, a hat rack along one wall tells its own story of the owner. A polo helmet, a fishing cap and a few safari hats hung casually add warth to the bedroom, as do the black and white family photographs from long-ago eras that adorn the walls.
Another interesting touch is the actual framing of all the family portraits. “They are surrounded by a subtly striped matte of pale blue,” explains Jordan. “It helps the pictures look a bit more up-to-date and not so stark.”
According to Jordan, the uniformity of color throughout the home is what makes it seem larger. “It’s all about balance,” she says. “To keep from conflicting the rooms, we used the scale of the furniture creatively, and the chocolate brown upholstery is warm and inviting. The square footage is almost irrelevant, because it’s such an inspired space.”
Even walking into the home one feels instantly relaxed, party due to the somewhat tropical feel of the front yard, but also because of the open quality of flat. It exudes a vibe of a bygone time, when afternoons were spent lounging with friends and loved ones, sharing stories of travels and adventures over a good cocktail of glass of wine, listening to the river flow in the distance. Kipling himself certainly would have made an appearance.