European Persona

| May 1, 2010

This sink-in comfortable abode has the air of an English country home

Helen Stroud surveys the warm, green-colored den of her beautiful home, explaining the design concept behind it. English-born friend Sonya Fitzpatrick, the pet psychic, perhaps summed it up best, she says. “She looks in here and says, ‘You’re the only person I know whose home is more English than the English!’” recalls Helen. “I’m taking it as a compliment.”

When Helen and husband, Dan, a cardiovascular surgeon, built this home years ago they went long on space. The 10,000-square-foot house with eight bedrooms and six fireplaces had to accommodate five children and visits from a large extended family. Not to mention the pet-loving Stroud’s menagerie, currently six dogs and two cats.

“I’m the oldest of eight so we have tons of family coming through and I wanted a house big enough to have parties but yet be able to have your own space and get away. So I went to my brother Patrick who I knew could come up with a plan.”

Architect Patrick G. Carmody did indeed come up with a plan, one that combined his sister’s wishes for an English country style home, combined with a bit of homespun Louisiana. “I wanted the look of an English country home combined with the southern feel of a Louisiana house,” explains Shreveport-born Helen. “I wanted it to feel old and I also thought that being in this hot climate, it made sense to have it on an axis so that everything lined up for views and breezes. Everything is symmetrical. So my brother got the idea for it one day and drew it out. I loved it!”

This home truly reflects the personality of its owners—easy, breezy comfortable living with no serious airs of formality.

As owner of Olivine in Rice Village, a shop known for easy-care, casually elegant lines, Helen has perfected the science of sink-in comfort and provincial style. It’s reflected everywhere in this home in a bounty of eclectic, timeworn accessories, simple textures and antiques.

The home’s relaxed environment is present from all angles with French doors giving full visual as well as physical access to the tremendous grounds surrounding the house. “The relationship to the outdoors was especially important to us,” she says. “This house is great for parties because of the flow in and out.”

An expansive foyer in large black and white marble tiles (a definite ode to Europe) contrasted by cheerful yellow walls greets visitors to the home. The eye follows back to the living room where informal slipcovered furniture in white denim mixes with antiques. Indeed, slipcovers are key to this home’s look.

“I love the look, plus it just makes sense for the pets,” says Helen, an avid animal lover who has been known to rescue more than a few. “I don’t want anything formal and I wanted something that you would not feel like killing a dog or child over if it gets ruined. So I love white denim. There has been all sorts of stuff spilled on it; there has been mud on it. But you just put it in the washer and dryer and then pop it back on. You might have paw prints on them one day, but the next they’re squeaky clean.”

A casual elegance dominates this light and bright living room with herringbone patterned wood floor. Slipcovered sofas in white denim from Helen’s shop, Olivine, are functional as well as beautiful. Renae Abbott of Shabby Slips found the antique Spanish Colonial chairs that flank the fireplace.

A casual elegance dominates this light and bright living room with herringbone patterned wood floor. Slipcovered sofas in white denim from Helen’s shop, Olivine, are functional as well as beautiful. Renae Abbott of Shabby Slips found the antique Spanish Colonial chairs that flank the fireplace.

A beautiful French empire buffet from Helen’s grandmother shares space in the living room with a pair of Spanish Colonial chairs found by Renae Abbott of Shabby Slips. The chairs flank a fireplace topped with a mirror that elegantly reflects a pair of high-ceiling chandeliers. At the other end of this space, a Steinway grand piano.

The living room’s wood

The expansive dining room is especially sentimental, adorned in an oversized table, chairs and buffet inherited from Helen’s great-grandmother.

floor is done in a herringbone pattern to bring interest and texture to the space. “Patrick suggested it so the room wouldn’t look like a bowling alley!” Helen says, laughing. “It is a rather long room.”

The expansive dining room is especially sentimental, adorned in an oversized table, chairs and buffet inherited from Helen’s great-grandmother.

The expansive dining room is especially sentimental, adorned in an oversized table, chairs and buffet inherited from Helen’s great-grandmother. Her great-grandmother’s husband founded Bruce’s Foods in 1928. Today the New Iberia based company is one of the largest privately owned food manufacturers in the U.S. “There’s lots of history in here,” says Helen of the room, outfitted in historically inspired blue walls.

The kitchen is undeniably English with a butcher block island and blue and white accents. A charming breakfast room with farmhouse table is swathed in vibrant, airy Les Indiennes curtains from Helen’s shop. A smaller den that mimics this blue and white English sentiment sits to the side of this space, outfitted in a cushy, quilt-covered sofa. Down the hallway exists entry to an above-garage space, replete with three bedrooms and three baths.

On the opposite side of the downstairs is the master suite with sitting area, outfitted in an early Louisiana antique bed that belonged to Helen’s grandmother. Elegant Bella Notte linens grace the bed. “I love them! You just whip them off and wash. So nice to have washable linens.”

Upstairs the home’s symmetrical elements are obvious with two bedrooms on either side of the staircase. One daughter’s room is also home to a trio of birds who have the perfect pampered view of the front yard from their perch in a window-side cage. The room itself is one of dreamy white understated elegance in comfy bedding and timeworn antiques.

“The green room,” the large den so-called for its historical green floor-to-ceiling bookcases and walls, is family central, especially during holidays. A comfortable, velvet slipcovered sofa gives off the English vibe here with a collection of chairs in interesting fabrics flanking the fireplace. All manner of sentimental knick-knacks and pictures inhabit the bookshelves. Family portraits adorn the walls. “I got that sofa from an antique junk store and had it redone,” Helen recalls. “This is my snuggle-up, warm, cozy room. Everyone winds up in here.”

A screened-in porch off of this space provides excellent views of the backyard with pool. “One of Dan’s favorite spots.”

It seems there are lots of favorite spots in this house. “It’s been a great place for family gatherings and we definitely don’t lack for space. But wherever you go, you’re likely to run across a dog or two,” she quips. “I definitely believe that a happy home has animals in it!”


Category: Featured Homes

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