We Louisianians are a patient people. We are aware our neighbors to the North actually get to experience seasonal foliage and fall colors before mid to late November. Fall takes it time getting down to Louisiana, but when it does it stunningly shows its true colors along the bayou in perfect fall form. I’ve yet to find a better way to take it all in than to hit the road with camera in hand, Dave the Builder at the wheel, and the words from the song “Drive South” defining the moment.
Come on baby drive South With the one you love Come on baby drive South
You can be guaranteed if it’s late November the locals are asking, “Are the leaves in color on the bayou Ginkgo?” This famous landmark Ginkgo tree has served as the picture perfect photo backdrop for generations of local residents. This picture does not do justice to just how beautiful these colors along the bayou really are.
Decades old iron bridge railing has aged gracefully through the years. Brick-lined streets, decorative ironwork and historical homes make a drive though the garden district a trip through time.
Further South down the road we go to another small town favorite, Lea’s Lunch Room. Lea’ s is known throughout the United States as the place for pie. It’s a standing game day tradition to stop at Lea’s for one of their famous ham sandwiches and a piece of pie on the way to Tiger Stadium. Recently, Lea’s Lunchroom was listed in the USA TODAY Travel article “10 best: Delicious Pies around the South.” All that driving and photographing works up an appetite, and it is the best excuse I know of to order up a sandwich and a slice of coconut pie with sky high meringue to-go, of course. On the road again…
The Mary McCoy Big House stands steeped in history on the Solomon Northup Trail. The story of Solomon Northup was the subject of the film, 12 Years a Slave. The Bayou Boeuf community and the parishes of Central Louisiana historically factor into the life of Solomon Northup. When I was in college at LSU I used the Mary McCoy Big House as my thirty minutes to home mile marker. Lots of history and beauty associated with this local landmark.
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Like the leaves, the colors of the season are changing from browns and oranges to brighter reds and traditional greens. This much needed road trip was all the detour needed to help me collect my thoughts and take a breather before the next phase begins. December 1st signals the official Christmas season kick off. Here we go!
In the daily meeting with the Places In The Home creative team (me, myself and I), quiet and centered thought brings forth ideas. Sometimes it all runs together, and at other times the ideas and interest flow like the mighty Mississippi River. There’s a world of inspiration out there folks! I love the search, especially when it is right here at home. October is a great month for antiquing, fall road trips and home tours. We took October very serious a few years back and set out on a intrigue packed afternoon and evening fondly referred to as The Myrtles: Inspiration, History and Mystery.
Working for family is a trick and a treat. I set the tone for a blissful and professional working relationship right off the bat, and we’re off and decorating. My brother is once again enlisting my help in redecorating his den and foyer. He didn’t realize he also wants to freshen up his dining room decor until I gently persuaded him to do so.
His circa 1903 home is one of the few Victorian turret architecture examples in the state. Staying true to the period is an absolute must on the exterior for historical purposes however, I am allowed to blur the lines when it comes to the interior. Small changes and edits keep the bottom line affordable and in check with current styles. Changing the neutral color palette is off limits. He loves it, and it flows with the historical aspect of the home.
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New lamps for the sideboard and replacing the dining room chairs ( bad, very bad) is first on the list. He has tried his best to get his hands on the balustrade lamp Dave the Builder made for me. Dear brother, it ain’t happening. That is the reason I sourced lamps in a more sophisticated image of my lamp for his consideration. We will also be paying attention to new curtains or perhaps new trim for the existing ones, a new rug and lowering the artwork and framed photos. I have to consider the twelve foot ceilings, proportion of the space and overall balance when placing artwork.
Placing items and photographing the space for reference reminded me of the details surrounding the silver lazy susan with double turned malachite handles atop the sideboard. St. Francisville, Louisiana is a charming town rich in history and historical sites. My brother is a history buff who really appreciates the architecture of historical homes. He enthusiastically believes no trip to St. Francisville is complete without a tour of The Myrtles Plantation.
The Myrtles Plantation is not without national media attention. Referred to as one of “America’s Most Haunted Homes”, The Myrtles has been the subject of interest, articles and television documentaries from Veranda, Travel and Leisure, The New York Times and The History Channel to the one I most remember, the visit with cameras rolling from Oprah Winfrey. As visitors make their way up the winding driveway to the entrance of the circa 1796 Antebellum mansion, distinctive features such as the brick courtyard, double dormers and the lacy wrought iron wrapped front veranda captures the eye. I could sit on the veranda in the large rocking chairs staring out at the moss draped live oaks and lush grounds for hours. One Saturday afternoon and evening fifteen years ago I did just that.
Dave the Builder, our son and I went to Baton Rouge for a working vacation. My brother suggested we drive over to St. Francisville and New Roads to check out the sites and tour The Myrtles. If we did tour The Myrtles he wanted me to pay close attention to the silver lazy susan in the dining room. We bounced the idea around, decided what the heck, and off down Hwy. 61 we went. Our first order of business when we arrived was to have lunch at The Carriage House Restaurant at The Myrtles Plantation.
Our waitress inquired if this was our first time to The Myrtles. She gave us the poop scoop on the town, the shops, and the Saturday evening Myrtles Mystery Tour. The Mystery Tour is held on Friday and Saturday nights, and is touted as the opportune time for Chloe, the reported ghost known to inhabit the house and grounds of The Myrtles, to make an appearance. Our son was captivated, my curiosity was piqued, and Dave the Builder thought it would be a fun way to spend a Louisiana Saturday night. I made reservations for the three of us for the 7:00 pm tour, and we left the grounds highly anticipating our return.
In part two of Three Part Harmony: Inspiration, History and Mystery I’ll tell the tale of Chloe, recount our ferry trip to New Roads and the infamous peanut lady, antiquing, champagne punch, and the fun and fright of the Mystery Tour.
It is usually the only tangible proof of bygone golden eras ruled by classic styles.
Restoration efforts and day to day upkeep of historic homes can be financially mind boggling. The sheer expense of replicating these styles in today’s market can create financial hurdles difficult to clear. Aging and changing neighborhoods coupled with a natural progression away from this style of living places most of these homes in the private sector on an endangered species list.
The craftsmanship, detail to details, and artisan skills used to envision, shape, form, and build these homes fascinate me. Over the years we have had the opportunity to tour, consult on, and donate antique pieces to several state and privately owned historic homes.
As much as I love antiques I will walk right by a period piece without so much as a glance to get to the heart of the historic matter. Architectural elements grab and hold my attention.
In our city we have a block that is known as Mansion Row. Anchoring the far left corner of the block stands the Thompson-Hargis Mansion. Built in 1907, this Greek Revival home with characteristic Ionic columns,porte-cochère, triangle pediment, and transom entry was once a jewel in the crown of our city history. The exterior and grounds showed the weathered look of sun and time- nothing paint and repair could not fix. The property was structurally sound and the architectural integrity intact.
The furnishings were removed years ago, the windows and doors boarded, and the grand dame beautifully sat idling until this past Sunday evening when she fell victim to a senseless demise.
Neighbors who recall the elegance of what was and admirers of what could have been mourn the total loss of of property, history, and hope.
It is a sad turn of events and an even sadder realization that original, historic, and one of a kind architectural elements were destroyed. Dollars do not factor into the equation, there is no replacement value for the architectural integrity of this 105 year old home. RIP Thompson-Hargis Mansion.
Preserving history and restoring things runs in my family. Dave the Builder and I preserve antique and architectural pieces. My brother purchased, moved, and restored his circa 1903 Victorian home – his second property to restore. I am currently in the process of photographing his home to feature in a future post. Stay tuned.
House Beautiful is hands down one of my favorite shelter magazines. Each month when it hits my mailbox I can’t wait to look through the pages of quality interior design and decor beauty. Undisturbed and attentive, I sit down to the pages of interior design details, articles, furnishings and stunning looks. I am so excited to share with you the May issue of House Beautiful and the outstanding design secrets of Annie Brahler along with images from her Jacksonville, Illinois historical home. As owner of Euro Trash, a full service residential and commercial interior design, styling and import company, antiquities come into play.
The Douglas Brenner feature with photos by Bjorn Wallander, the ideas for decorating with antiques, and informative Q&A with Annie Brahler is my favorite part of the May issue of House Beautiful. It speaks to the antique lover and dealer in me, and shows how well antiques fit into the interiors of not only historical homes, but in today’s homes as well. There are certain days I swoon over fashion, but swooning over homes, architectural features and interior design is an everyday treat.
The May issue of House Beautiful is chockablock full of design secrets. My issue has almost every page bookmarked, highlighted or dog-eared.
Have you ever been moved to an out loud “Oh, my goodness” by a photo of a kitchen? Meet the photo responsible for my OMG heard round the world (okay, around the house). Where do I begin? The vintage demilune topped with marble and modified for backside cabinets as a kitchen island~ brilliant!! Antique accents and accessories adorn this totally white hot kitchen, where elegance and simplicity merge in an absolutely fabulous manner. The bronze chandelier, gold leaf mirror, 18th-century French armchair, 17th- and 18th-century Delft tiles and bluestone columns seize the opportunity to impress. My two favorite accents are the zinc architectural finial in front of the window to the left of the fireplace, and the Louis Vuitton bag on the floor. Pay attention~ Louis Vuitton will be featured in another look. On second thought, why wait?
Behr paint and a Jonathan Adler Union Jack rug are matched to colors of a Vuitton bag in her son’s bedroom. I knew I liked Annie Brahler’s style!
How are you liking this beauty? A vintage armoire customized to fit her shoe need and Belle Epoque pink chandelier do a closet good! Repurposing antique and vintage furniture for practical uses to pair with modern furnishings is smart, green and gives what we all want from unique home decor, the wow factor.
The master bedroom headboard began as a neoclassical daybed and finished as a custom pièce de résistance. I did something similar with a pair of twin English headboards. Dave the Builder hinged them together for a client and voilà, a formal fireplace screen. Seeing an item for what it is, but recognizing it for what it can become, seems to be a justified experiment with affordable antique and vintage furniture, don’t you think? Speaking strictly for myself, stripping, painting, refinishing or totally morphing a piece into something totally different from its original purpose never scares me when we aren’t talking mucho initial investment.
A pair of antique upholstered armchairs, also known as fauteuils, grace the well appointed bookcase in the library. The bookcase is made from a salvaged door surround. Unique furnishings reflect a sense of personal style, personality and creative character.
The blonde antique double door china cabinet and caned dining chairs in the breakfast room are from Holland. I love the juxtaposition of formal dining chairs paired with a rustic or casual farm or harvest table, especially in this breakfast room. I addressed this subject in a previous post here. My advice then is the same now~ never be afraid to blend formal pieces with primitive ones. The contrast surprises, complements, and is easily capable of becoming the focal point of the space.
The feminine quality of a Louis XV-style bed is quite the appropriate accessory in a historical home and a teenager’s bedroom. The French mirror, balloon shade and crystal for days shaded chandelier strike a balance between period pieces and current trends in home decor. A client at the antique shop remodeled her daughter’s bedroom a couple of years ago. As per her request, we found a Victorian round pedestal table painted white at auction and later located five upholstered French dining chairs~ four side chairs and only captains chair. I paired the four side chairs with the table and the look was flawless. Both mother and daughter were thrilled with the set, and as shown in the image above, placed the set in close proximity to the bed.
Modern meets glam meets antiquities. Oh yeah, I like the look! Chocolate walls pop against brilliant white flooring, tiles, the recycled claw- foot tub and sheers. Creative ingenuity is beautifully at work, and it shows in the use of a single gold leaf wall shelf for linen storage.
There are times when it is indeed better to allow an image to speak for itself, and this is one of those times. I enjoyed every word and image of the feature, and have a great appreciation of her design, tastes and excellent selection and use of antiques.
“Overdoing it with one thing is kind of not overdoing it.”
Annie Brahler’s own words and design secret does supreme justice to the entire feature.
images via House Beautiful – photographer: Bjorn Wallendar