Melanie and Mickey Loomis turned to designer Shaun Smith for their chateau-inspired house.
Melanie and Mickey Loomis had just completed a full renovation and redecoration of their Old Metairie home when another house – this one an elegant, chateau-inspired structure four blocks away – captured their attention. Mickey, executive vice president and general manager of the New Orleans Saints, had long admired the French architecture, meticulous craftsmanship and manicured grounds of the second house.
“When the house came on the market unexpectedly, curiosity took over, but then we realized it was even a better fit for the family because it provided the opportunity to have a large yard for the children, as well as a home office for Mickey, and a very spacious guesthouse for out-of-town family and friends who frequently visit,” says Melanie. The Loomises purchased the house and embarked upon their second design project in two years.
Homeowner Melanie Loomis and designer Shaun Smith in the Loomises’ family room.
The goal for the new house was two-fold. First, the Loomises wanted the house to be family-friendly. The couple has 5-year-old twins and often entertains guests, especially during football season. “Ninety percent of the time, we’re entertaining 5-year-olds,” says Melanie. “They play soccer and football in the main hall, and the dining room is part of the scooter route.” The Loomises also wanted to utilize as many of the furnishings purchased for their first renovation as possible. Melanie worried that the new house would require larger pieces to stand up to its grand proportions, but she didn’t want to start from scratch. To that end, she called in designer Shaun Smith, one of House Beautiful’s 2015 Next Wave Designers. In Smith, she found a designer who listened to the family’s needs and adeptly worked with their existing furnishings and art. “Shaun brought together the perfect mix; he combined our love of traditional furnishings with New Orleans-style, masculine things for my husband and kid-friendly things for a family with children,” says Melanie. “I also like that the houses he’s done are different. He doesn’t do the exact same thing in every house.”
This time around, the Loomises were not undertaking a structural renovation. They liked the footprint of the house and its spacious outdoor areas. Inside, the house includes formal living and dining rooms, a family room, kitchen, powder room, four bedrooms, four baths, a playroom and bath for children, and a poker room with its own access. Outside areas include lawn space, a pool, wide stretches of a porch framed by classical colonnades and a pavilion. Most of the intended changes were merely cosmetic. Respecting the home’s architectural integrity, while making it suitable for family life would take some finessing, however. A decade and a half ago, the previous owners (both are avowed Francophiles) spent two years building the house. Using pictures from their annual trips to France, they paid close attention to every detail and had many of the home’s architectural elements, including roof, awnings, ironwork, doors, windows, columns and cabinetry copied by local artisans. Several parts of the house were inspired by iconic French landmarks: the colonnade at the rear of the home by Les Invalides and the pavilion by the pavilion in the Marie Antoinette Estate in Versailles. The Loomises did not want to detract from the timeless quality of the home’s thoughtful design. Because the house is 2,000 square feet larger than the family’s last home, furnishing the additional space also was a necessity.
The family room’s palette of blue and gold is accented with notes of red and orange. Weighty furnishings, indoor/outdoor grade fabrics and break-proof items such as the bowl on the table make the room kid friendly. Large charcoal portraits of the Loomises’ children, Lucy and Sam, by Lafayette Artist Clay Judice are paired with contemporary white chests and reproduction chairs on either side of the casement opening to the family room.
In a nod to the Saints, Shaun Smith papered Mickey’s poker room with black grass cloth by Scalamandré and chose a Tom Filicia for Kravet diamond patterned fabric shot with gold for the drapery. The fixture above the table is black and brass.
The main entertaining area in the guesthouse is home to Mickey’s collection of sports memorabilia.
An oak tree photograph by photographer Michael Smith was part of the impetus for the living room’s gray walls. Smith chose the lantern fixture as a fresh take on a traditional French fixture.
One of Smith’s first projects was to create a playroom on the third floor, which doubles as a children’s guest room. He used an orange zebra wallpaper to give the room a sense of youthful energy and fun that will grow with the kids, chose twin beds that function as both sofa seating and sleep areas, and accented the space with splashes of aqua.
Other projects during the five-month process included turning a home-gym into a poker room for Mickey and reworking the guesthouse (complete with kitchen, bedroom, bath, sauna, and work area) to include both an office for Mickey and a place for his collection of sports memorabilia. In a nod to the Saints, Smith papered the poker room with a black grass cloth and used black diamond-patterned drapery. At the same time, he modified the palette that Melanie initially settled on, coaxing her gently into accepting richer shades with high gloss finishes for the more formal areas (a taupe-gray for the living room and a blue-gray for the dining room) and making sure that connected rooms “live together well.”
“I felt like when I saw the previous home, the neutral colors did not match the person that Melanie is,” says Smith. “It needed some color. The biggest thing was to amp it up.”
The reverse was done in the French Country style kitchen, which was made lighter. Dark, French Country cabinets with chicken wire fronts and toile fabric were replaced with new cabinets and a new backsplash. Because the family spends most of their time in the kitchen, Smith chose durable surfaces and enlarged the island. As in most of the house, he brought in on-trend pieces, such as Lucite counter stools, as a means of punctuating the traditional underpinnings of the house with a contemporary edge. The designer, who is known for fashioning polished interiors comprised of multiple layers, also added sumptuous drapery and new lighting throughout the home. “Shaun’s young and he knows what’s cool and fresh and new,” says Melanie. “He brought in just enough of what’s current.”
The family room was furnished with weighty furnishings, indoor/outdoor grade fabrics and break-proof materials chosen to resist the wear and tear of active kids. Upstairs, on the second floor, Smith worked with the same goals of incorporating the Loomises’ belongings and adding to them where necessary – for instance, the new master suite, unlike the Loomises’ last master bedroom, includes a sitting area. Where furnishings did not translate, Smith shifted them in unexpected ways. The family room’s former coffee table now resides in the guesthouse; while a pair of Moroccan tables taken from the master bath are used to flank the sofa in the formal sitting room downstairs. He also added to the couple’s art collection by sourcing new works from local artists and revived pieces they already owned by reframing them. “Almost everything in this house was sourced locally,” he notes.
A painting by Jamie Meeks hangs over a 19th-century French chest from Shaun Smith Home in the dining room.
An abstract painting by Austin James, a work by Jamie Meeks (from Bremermann Designs) and a bench from Jade compose a vignette in the family room.
A colonnade off the family room leads to Mickey’s poker room, which previously housed a home-gym. Lanterns by Bevolo.
The dining room walls are colored robin’s egg blue with a high-gloss finish. Shaun chose the custom console and acrylic lamps as a contemporary contrast for the antique chandelier. The drapery is trimmed with fabric by local artist Becky Vizard.
The end result is an interior that’s been modernized and made comfortable for today’s lifestyle without diminishing the historic character and French provenance of the house itself. According to Melanie, a recent group of weekend guests underscored the comfort factor at the Loomis home by nicknaming it Hotel Loomis. “At the end of the day, we are so happy that the house has become our home with the help of Shaun Smith,” says Melanie. “It now has our stamp, reflects our personalities and lifestyle and has provided the perfect setting for us to do what we enjoy best: spend time with friends and family.”