My Friend Liz is a New Orleans Cover Girl!

Liz Bordes in her beautiful home, which she and her husband, Lance completely renovated and decorated themselves, on the cover of New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles Magazine

In the very surreal days of the city's repopulating following the evacuation after Hurricane Katrina, a truly amazing couple found their way into my shop. That couple was Lance and Liz Bordes. I was struck immediately by their hopeful outlook, by their high level of energy, by their outgoing, story telling, laughter loving, friendship forming ways. These two people were very obviously in love with each other and with life. They were a dose of delight during a very tenuous time.
They came into my shop looking for a special chandelier for the entrance in the house they were renovating. It was not a typical high ceilinged uptown house, in fact the ceilings were pretty low, and Lance and Liz were looking for something to be custom made that would be fabulous and welcoming and would set the tone for the house, but it had to be pretty short to accomodate the low ceiling in that space. I agreed to do some sketches for them and call them in a few days.
Well, the very next day, they came back in to see me. They said that although they had already purchased a chandelier for their dining room, that they wanted one of my pieces and had decided to use the other one somewhere else in the house.
After looking at some of the samples that were in the shop at the time, and considering their options for having another custom piece made, Lance pointed to a chandelier that we had just hung up after completing it as a custom piece for another client. "Baby," he said to Liz, "this one's speaking to me."
"Then, Baby, that's the one we'll get."
From then on, Lance and Liz have been one of my favorite couples to work with.

Here's what I came up with for the Entry Not too tall but still fabulous, and of course, it's named Elizabeth

Elizabeth Close up This is the "Hello Moment" Lance and Liz were looking for.

The talented couple in their sitting room with their beloved cat, Baby Oatmeal. The painting is by Aaron Collier from Cole Pratt Gallery.

A corner of the Entry with the inevitable french chair adds a welcoming presence to this inviting space

Baby, this Dining Room speaks to me. The fabulous chandelier was chosen by Liz and Lance to light up their hip, casual entertaining style. The crowns at the top and bottom of the fixture remind guests that they're being entertained royally by the king and queen of style and decor.

The Master Bedroom is a study in cool, sophisticated glamour. Crisp whites combined with robin's egg blue and chocolate brown provide a an atmosphere of calm. Jonathan Adler headboard and benches are from Hazelnut and the bed linens are from my friend, Jane Scott Hodges' Leontine Linens. The graphic brown and blue rug by Angela Adams gives the room its edge.

Lance designed and built the Hollywood vanity as a surprise for Liz.

Liz and Lance Bordes are truly a special couple. An excerpt from the article:
A tour through the Bordes' home reveals that this dream house is as much about their life together as it is about the perfect interplay of its carefully considered parts. Displayed thoughout the house are various items, including an antique radio and pieces of Fiestaware, found in the houses that the couple has renovated. There are also family items like the Japanese goddess handed down from an aunt, mementos like the plate invitation from the couples' 2004 wedding, and an antique Navajo prayer pot used during the ceremony.
The Bordes home is beautiful because it reflects the couple who designed it and reside in it. Congratulations, Lance and Liz!

Karyl Pierce Paxton's New Orleans Style

The January issue of House Beautiful has a very nice feature on the home of Karyl Pierce Paxton. Paxton is a nationally-acclaimed designer of home products that are licensed and sold worldwide. Her home, an 1890's Queen Anne side hall cottage has many features which embody what I think of as "New Orleans Style." As I've stated before, New Orleans is a tropical, antique city of contrasts and paradoxes and this is part of what is embodied in our decorating style. It is a style which has what I like to call "dramatic tension." Karyl's front parlor shows dramatic tension to great effect. New Orleanians love and respect their old homes, especially their "parlors" because this allows them to retain the formal quality these houses were built with. And yet, within that formality we like a sense of relaxed elegance, and very often some element of fun. Almost every fabulous New Orleans home contains at least one french chair because this is an understated way to set a formal tone, and as you can see here, Karyl has many more than one. Placing them on seagrass rugs (another decorating element which New Orleanians seem to be very fond of) lends the note that the elegant atmosphere is also one of relaxation. We like our rooms to be decorative and beautiful but we want to live in them and feel comfortable in them. This is probably why New Orleans decorating usually includes pieces which show the history of the elegant wear and tear of a life well lived. All good New Orleans rooms contain pieces which both show and celebrate their age. Notice the floor lamp by the window. It was created by the talented local lighting designer, Paul Gruer, who also happens to be a friend of Karyl's. This piece is the definitive element of fun for this room. It is described by interviewer Mimi Read as looking "like a tree too drunk to stand." In fact, it's a sinuous, gracefully curved lamp which sprouts hand sculpted clay leaves which seem to wave and flutter around. It is a brilliant balance to the overall formality of the other furnishings. Since New Orleans is a city of artists and artisans, it is pretty likely that you will have at least one beautiful piece which has been created by an artistic friend, and this room is no exception. The contemporary sculpture behind the french settee by Craig Henry further reinforces the push and pull of the old against the new, the classical against the contemporary, the french gracefulness of the sofa against the monumentality of scale of the handcrafted contemporary piece. In the adjoining parlor,notice the ivory and gilt french tabernacle and the carved wooden cherubs. Religious artifacts reflect our love for and fascination with our european forbears and with pieces of a spiritual nature. It is the dramatic combination of the spiritual and the earthy that we are so in tune with. This photo is an example to the New Orlenian love for handpainted furniture. This is an Italian piece, but in this town, there are so very many talented painters and finishers that handpainted pieces are not hard to come by. Notice the "tablescape" on top of the desk. A scuplture of the Virgin Mary happily shares space with a primitive African sculpture, a fairy doll, an architectural fragment and another Paul Gruer lamp. The next three photos show another very important aspect of New Orleans Style, that of living spaces that celebrate the interaction of the indoors with the lush tropical outdoors. The double french doors in the master bath open to the courtyard. The palm plant reinforces the tropical feel. How wonderful to soak in the antique tub and experience the warm summer breezes coming from the courtyard, and feel the cool marble underfoot. The sink base is an eighteenth century buffet fitted with a marble top and a new sink. In the kitchen, and thoroughout the house, the beautiful drapes, made of silk or linen add another layer of easy elegance. New Orleanians are very enamored of beautifully made draperies which clothe our windows and decorate our rooms while softening the intensity of the tropical climate outdoors. These drapes are dressy and add a sense of "fanciness" but they are easy going and not overdone. New Orleanians love "outdoor rooms" which are an extension of the indoors, and they love to dress and decorate these spaces. On the porch outside the master bath, Karyl has hung canvas curtains and set a table with coffee and pastries, because in New Orleans, the favored place to drink coffee is out on the porch. This picture of the front of Karyl Paxton's house brings us to the final element of New Orleans style which will conclude this post. And that is the love of and exaltation of handcrafted architectural details. Built in the 1890's this home possesses many of these treasures. Notice the fishscale shingles in the pediment above the porch and on the second floor, the turned columns and the decorative horizontal balustrade. These are all characteristic of the sometimes quirky architectural combinations of the Queen Anne style. It is the historic and decorative details that delight so many of us and motivate us to lovingly preserve the many architectural treasures this city still possesses.
"A house that looks dusted with gold has all the elements that make New Orleans style so poetic: French formality, fearless drama, and the ethereal beauty of faded elegance."
For most New Orlenians, our unique homes, decorated to please us and to entertain our friends are our greatest treasures.

I am the owner of Julie Neill Designs in New Orleans where we create beautiful custom lighting. This blog is my love letter to the unique people, places and happenings which make New Orleans the amazing place it is.

Please visit my website to learn more about my lighting and our fabulous shop on Magazine Street.

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