When a local married couple, who previously lived in the Marigny, found a home more spacious home in a quiet Lakeshore neighborhood, they decided to make a move. The homeowners (he is a physician who also plays bass in a local rock trio, and she is a writer and research producer who works from home) found Lakeshore’s park-like design to be a big draw, as well as the location of the home along the levee. 

“We loved our home in Marigny, which we renovated when the kids were small,” the wife says. “I [need] a quiet space to work, so sharing an office with a bass player worked out exactly as well as you’d imagine. And the kids kept growing. We needed more space, and, with Franklin Avenue and St. Claude Avenue becoming the new Frenchmen, we wanted a bit more quiet. I’ve always loved the Lakeshore neighborhood with all the midcentury architecture.”

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While the Lakeshore home had great bones, a gorgeous backyard and enough space to alleviate the crowding the homeowners felt before, it needed serious updates. The homeowners, who had been customers at Eclectic Home for many years, enlisted the help of the company’s principal designer and owner, Penny D. Francis (who also did the interior design at their home in the Marigny). 

“I was surprised to receive a call that they had decided to leave their beautiful and beloved home in the Marigny by moving to a completely different home and lifestyle in Lakeview,” Francis says. “My role was twofold: to help develop a plan to renovate the home to make it function for their family and to manage the process. The home was dated, and some areas were functionally obsolete. Once we had a plan and project scope, I recommended Entablature [for the renovations].”  

In addition to representing the clients, and managing the design and execution of the plans, Francis acted as the main point of contact to ensure the integrity of the design. Francis and her team also provided the necessary paint, finish, lighting and plumbing schedules, plus detailed elevation drawings for the bathrooms and the inclusion of a gas fireplace in the family room. 

“I’ve known Penny and her team for years, and I trust her explicitly,” the wife says. “I had Penny take a look [at the home] so she could start designing before we even closed. I knew Penny would come up with a plan that would be beautiful, interesting and functional for us. Also, I know she and her team are crackerjacks and would take care of everything, so I didn’t have to stress over the details. When we met to go over her design plans, I loved it immediately. I knew from that moment the home would be perfect for us.”

Francis first focused her efforts on planning functional spaces that would work best for the family. For example, the primary bedroom had a shared bathroom for guests. Francis took space from an adjacent bedroom to increase the bathroom space, and to add his and her closets, all while leaving ample space for necessary furnishings in both bedrooms. The second order of business was to determine what existing furnishings to keep in the new home and how to incorporate them into the new design. 

“We started with inventory of the must-keep furnishings and art, and then we incorporated and used that as a reference,” Francis says. “The home is truly eclectic, with a multitude of periods and styles highlighted by color and pattern in the materials selected. Family heirlooms [are now] paired with vintage and modern pieces that reflect the clients and who they are. Unafraid to push the color envelope, as in the dining room, we selected a beautiful teal wallpaper by Schumacher and proceeded to upholster the chairs in two velvets: one solid and one with a tone-on-tone pattern. For added drama and contrast, we introduced a white gesso chandelier. The cabinet is antique with handed-down family treasures, while the opposite side of the room has an églomisé server with gold accents in a modern chevron motif.”  

Other space planning included designated spaces for the husband (a music room) and the wife (an office and library). “I have a dedicated office [and] library that I love,” the wife says. “I can look out the windows onto the pool. I can also watch hummingbirds in the jasmine from my desk. I also really love the aubergine color Penny chose. It makes me feel calm even when work is hectic. [My husband] has a dedicated music room on the other side of the house, thank goodness.” 

The couple also wanted a gas fireplace added to the 1960s brick two-story home. “It was kismet that the desired location in the family room was near the gas [line], and that the room was long enough to have the cast-stone surround and not reduce the space needed for seating and gathering,” Francis says. “Large format porcelain tiles wrap the fireplace façade, while the limestone surround provides a beautiful contrast.”

Yet another challenge was redesigning the master bathroom to have a combined wet space of his and her showers, plus a claw-foot tub in a frameless glass enclosure. “To include all three must-haves took some creative design work,” Francis says. “Seeing double, we played off that premise and doubled up long subway wall tile in contrasting colors that divide the space.”

The kitchen, which previously had ivory cabinets and a forest-green range, needed some grounding and updating. To do so, Francis incorporated a tile splash mosaic and brass pot filler. She also added statement lighting and replaced the hardware for a consistent look.

The central living room, which originally was long and rectangular, has now been divided into two functional spaces: one for watching TV, and another for entertaining and conversation. Inspired by a colorful painting in the living room, Francis paired two large tangerine wing chairs with a blue velvet Chesterfield sofa. Heart of pine floors were also added throughout most of the home, adding depth and warmth.

In fact, Francis found inspiration not only in the homeowners’ art, but also in their furniture and love of color. As a result, the curated and evolved spaces are now a true reflection of the residents. “The library is a great example of utilizing vintage pieces and antiques for a different purpose,” Francis says. “The family antique dining table is now a work desk in the library [and] office. An antique glass-front cabinet and custom wall-to-wall book cases house her vast collection of books. The room looks timeless, and the bold use of dark cranberry on the walls, ceiling and trim makes the room feel grander.”  

Overall, it was the backyard that initially sold the homeowners on this particular home. “We’re so happy we renovated and enlisted Penny’s help because now we love the inside of the house as much as we loved the backyard and pool initially,” the wife says. “The whole house really reflects our personalities and is great for entertaining. It’s a happy house.”