A Glamorous Lifestyle Downsized

| June 1, 2017

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The Move From Louisiana’s Bayou Desiard To Texas Marks Life Change

Text by Cheryl Alexander | Photography by Casey Dunn | Construction by Steve Hood, Steve Hood Company | Interiors by Mil Bodron, Bodron + Fruit, Floral design by Todd Events

Typically, life’s most significant events are marked by significant changes. In the case of this homeowner, the death of her husband and adjusting to life as a widow in her 80s meant making a big move — not only to a new city, but also into a place considerably smaller than her former home — she downsized from 9,000 square feet to 3,500. And though the move was notable, some important details made things a bit more comfortable and allowed this transition to be easier than one might expect.

First, the homeowner moved to Houston, a city where one of her daughters has made a home and has a family. Houston is also home to dear, lifelong friends with whom the widow and her late husband made many fond memories and enjoyed numerous good times, from simple social occasions to exotic vacations. Having family and friends nearby makes even the most difficult shifts bearable.

Next, the homeowner was able to maintain a familiar setting. She and her husband, a businessman and architect, built a home and raised a family on winding, cypress-lined Bayou DeSiard, home to the social elite of that Southern town in Monroe, Louisiana. The country-club set raised their families there. Children jumped off the backyard docks into the cool, clear water, and boats carried those who weren’t on the golf course up and down the bayou to wave at friends lounging on their waterfront patios. Life was good.

The couple enjoyed a glamorous life in a home they designed, built and furnished to suit their tastes and lifestyle. A basement game room, a sophisticated garden, a large kitchen and outdoor space made this home unique and ahead of its time. The furniture, too, was contemporary and modern, when according to the homeowner, “Everybody else we knew was into Colonial and antiques. As well, my mother was always into contemporary design and furniture, and my husband was a student of Bauhaus, so modern furniture was what we preferred, even though our friends thought we were kind of crazy.”

Another element that made the transition easier was that the homeowner worked with people she trusted. Steve Hood, owner and contractor at Steve Hood Company, is a 35-year veteran of the construction trade and an expert in renovation projects.

“Designer Mil Bodron brought such a deft professional hand to the project,” said Hood. “Executing the project and bringing Bodron’s design to life required a team of skilled craftsmen and subcontractors that I could completely rely on — extraordinary lighting design by Byrdwaters Design, Wood-Mode kitchen by Nicki Kana with Cabinet Innovations, wood floors by Schenk and Company, stone and tile fabrication by Olympus Marble and Granite, Sub Zero appliance, and plumbing fixtures and supplies by Marilyn Hermance of Westheimer Plumbing.”

Hood additionally enjoyed working with a family that has a tradition steeped in architecture and fine furnishings and being a part of the homeowner’s transition from Louisiana.

Bodron has enjoyed a relationship with the homeowner established in Monroe. He, too, grew up in Monroe, and she has known him since he was a child. He remembers spending Friday nights after football games in their basement gameroom at parties with her kids.

He also recalls the stylish furniture with which the home was filled — Paul McCobb, Edwarde Wormley, Billy Baldwin, Philip and Kelvin Laverne, Harvey Probbler and Paul Evans. The cultured Louisiana home likely ignited Bodron’s passion for interior design.

When the homeowner hired Bodron to remake her new home, her primary request was to use as many of her original furnishings as possible in her new space. “I have no need to buy new furniture. Plus, my furniture is classic, original, timeless.”

The designer made another visit to the home on Bayou DeSiard to measure all the furniture and assess the art, and he determined that much of her vintage furnishings would work very well and basically only needed refinishing and new upholstery. A few of the classic pieces include a massive Philip and Kelvin LaVerne cocktail table, a nine-foot custom Widdicom sofa, a matching pair of McCobb lounge chairs, two pair of Billy Baldwin slipper chairs, and a dining table attributed to Gio Ponti and Bertha Shaefer. Once everything was said and done, the homeowner had to acquire only a very few items for her new home. “I know it’s my old furniture, but it feels so new and fresh!” she said.

She also made it clear that a monochromatic palette featuring her signature gray/taupe was to be the backdrop for the entire project and that he should use textures and pops of color to make things interesting.

For the renovation, subtle changes were made to the 15-year-old abode. In fact, the floor plan is exactly the same as it was. They simply shifted or moved doorways, added or removed alcoves, and Byrdwaters Design installed all new lighting. “I didn’t want any chandeliers,” explained the homeowner, “due to the ceiling height and because I wanted the focus to remain on the art and furnishings. We even recessed the track lighting, and I love the effect.” In the dining room, she opted to keep two towering palm tree floor lamps left by the previous owners because of the architectural interest they add to the room. “It was a really lucky find,” explained the homeowner, “because Mil found out that the lamps are actually really rare pieces from the French furniture maker Maison Janson.”

Because the homeowner wanted the option to enclose the dining room from the living area, four textured sliding glass doors were installed, while the original classical pilasters that ordered the space were retained. The aforementioned dining table, like most of the furniture, is remarkable and has a story to tell. It belonged to the homeowner’s mother and was bought in 1958. When her mom passed in 1989, a nephew inherited the set and the matching credenza. After a few moves, one of the homeowner’s daughters got it, used it for a few years and eventually replaced it.

When the homeowner began considering furniture for her new place, size became an issue and finding something just right seemed impossible until one day when she was discussing the problem with her daughter.

“My daughter said, ‘Mom, what about Grandmother’s dining set? It’s in my attic!’ Turns out, it fit perfectly, so with some refinishing and reupholstering, I am dining at my parents’ table once again.” The matching Paul McCobb credenza sits magnificently in the foyer across from three wall panels from a house in Kent, circa 1730.

The kitchen table, too, is vintage. It was the dining set in the homeowner’s first home with her husband in 1956. As for the kitchen makeover, it was a complete tear-out. Doors were moved to create better storage solutions and a contemporary hood was installed above the range, along with brand new new, sleek, modern cabinetry from Wood-Mode. Everything is behind a door or a screen. All the appliances are garaged and even the microwave disappears into a drawer. In the all-white space, the art pops with bright color and pizzazz.

The master bathroom was renovated to accommodate the homeowner’s style and preferences. Storage cabinets were added under the sinks, the vanity was moved and decorative mirror tiles were replaced with more functional space. Clean lines and lack of clutter define the retreat.

All of the rooms in the apartment were purposely finished and furnished to scale. No one piece of architecture, lighting, art or furniture dominates another. The space exudes a chic, contemporary vibe, and the homeowner is ecstatic with the result of the makeover. “I frequently entertain groups of friends and family for cocktails or intimate dinners,” she explained. “Everyone who enters my home immediately remarks on the comfort and warmth they feel.”

Best of all, she said, is that it is so familiar. “Even though I’m on a different bayou in a different state, I’m still surrounded by my colors, my art, my furniture… I’m at home.”

TOP IMAGE CAPTION:  In the reception area, Harvey Probber game chairs from Assemblage, Chicago. Vintage Paul Evans coffee table. Rug from Creative Flooring Resources. Sculpture is Bertil Vallien’s Watcher VIII, 2002. Silver-leaf paper light fixture by Ingo Maurer, from Scott + Cooner.

In the foyer, antique Persian kilim rug from Abrash Decorative Rug Gallery. Vintage Paul McCobb credenza. Wall panels from a house in Kent, circa 1730

In the foyer, antique Persian kilim rug from Abrash Decorative Rug Gallery. Vintage Paul McCobb credenza. Wall panels from a house in Kent, circa 1730

 

In the living room, Edward Wormley love set. Antique French fauteuil with Rosemary Hallgarten fabric from David Sutherland. Vintage Ward Bennett coffee table. Painting by Louisiana artist Sam Weiner, 1975. Vintage Billy Baldwin slipper chairs with J. Robert Scott fabric from Allan Knight. Vintage Billy Baldwin étagère, from the Billy Baldwin Studio, New Jersey. Paul McCobb lounge chair in foreground. Philip and Kelvin LaVerne coffee table. Custom Scott Group rug.

In the living room, Edward Wormley love set. Antique French fauteuil with Rosemary Hallgarten fabric from David Sutherland. Vintage Ward Bennett coffee table. Painting by Louisiana artist Sam Weiner, 1975. Vintage Billy Baldwin slipper chairs with J. Robert Scott fabric from Allan Knight. Vintage Billy Baldwin étagère, from the Billy Baldwin Studio, New Jersey. Paul McCobb lounge chair in foreground. Philip and Kelvin LaVerne coffee table. Custom Scott Group rug.

 

In the study, vintage Paul McCobb sofa with Zimmer + Rohde fabric from George Cameron Nash. Vintage Pace Collection Lucite-and-suede lounge chairs. Vintage T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings triangle table. 1950’s brass lamp. Conrad window coverings from The Shade Shop.

In the study, vintage Paul McCobb sofa with Zimmer + Rohde fabric from George Cameron Nash. Vintage Pace Collection Lucite-and-suede lounge chairs. Vintage T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings triangle table. 1950’s brass lamp. Conrad window coverings from The Shade Shop.

 

In the dining room, Singer & Sons table and chairs, attributed to Gio Ponti and Bertha Schaefer. Lindsey Adelman Studio light fixture. Artwork by Marilyn Baum. Vintage palm tree floor lamps by Maison Jansen.

In the dining room, Singer & Sons table and chairs, attributed to Gio Ponti and Bertha Schaefer. Lindsey Adelman Studio light fixture. Artwork by Marilyn Baum. Vintage palm tree floor lamps by Maison Jansen.

 

In the master bedroom, vintage Paul McCobb headboard and bedside tables. Hinson reading lamps from Donghia. Hugh Newell Jacobsen bench. Minotti chair and ottoman from Smink. Wall hanging by Terence La Noue, 1993.

In the master bedroom, vintage Paul McCobb headboard and bedside tables. Hinson reading lamps from Donghia. Hugh Newell Jacobsen bench. Minotti chair and ottoman from Smink. Wall hanging by Terence La Noue, 1993.

 

In the master bedroom sitting area, vintage Paul McCobb table and chaise in Romo fabric from Culp Associates. Artwork over chaise by Losi Cinello, circa 1970.

In the master bedroom sitting area, vintage Paul McCobb table and chaise in Romo fabric from Culp Associates. Artwork over chaise by Losi Cinello, circa 1970.

 

In the all-white kitchen by Wood-Mode, the Paul McCobb dining set is the original table and chairs from the homeowner’s first home, refinished and reupholstered. Art purchased at Art Basel Miami.

In the all-white kitchen by Wood-Mode, the Paul McCobb dining set is the original table and chairs from the homeowner’s first home, refinished and reupholstered. Art purchased at Art Basel Miami.

 

Dazzling wall paper and a marble countertop/backsplash add texture, luxury and interest to the powder room. The floating vanity keeps the vibe contemporary, spacious and clean.

Dazzling wall paper and a marble countertop/backsplash add texture, luxury and interest to the powder room. The floating vanity keeps the vibe contemporary, spacious and clean.


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