With the colors, antiques, and art she loves most, Mia James has planned her family’s Baton Rouge home with one classic Southern quality in mind: quiet strength
When Jeff and Mia James started renovations on their newly purchased home in an older tree-lined neighborhood of Baton Rouge,
the last thing they expected was a call from a neighbor telling them their house was falling down. But that is just what happened.
“It changed everything—budget, design, everything,” Mia says. “I had never built a new house and I was terrified to do it,
but we were so attached to this neighborhood.”
Ten-foot-tall plantation shutters give a historic look to this newly built home.
Mia found style inspiration from a historic home on the Mandeville lakefront and arranged cut pieces of paper to show residential
designer Billie Brian her desired room layout. Once the new West Indies-style home was finished, the decorating was easy—she’d been collecting
her treasured furnishings for decades. Mia has a style that’s more about meaning and tranquility than any period of furniture
or medium of art.
The Jameses’ home has more than 2,000 square feet of outdoor rooms, including an inviting front porch.
Shutters and shutter hardware: custom color by Southern Plantation Shutters; 225/292-2278.
Mia’s been collecting the pieces in her home for almost 25 years, following her simple adage of buying something only if she
is irresistibly drawn to it. “There is nothing in this house that I’m not in love with,” says Mia. She never tries to just
fill a space and resists any urge to rush but waits until something is a perfect fit. Inversely, Mia will buy a wonderful
item even if she’s not sure where it will go. “I say, if your budget will allow and you love it, then you will always find
the right space for it in your house,” she advises.
Custom trumeau mirror: Jon McArthur; 225/288-2105.
Lamps: For a similar look, try the Bruges Table Lamp by Aidan Gray.
Chairs: For a similar look, try the Louis XVI Dining Chair or George III Rattan Chair by Wisteria.
Chandelier: For a similar look, try the Paris Flea Market Crystal Basket Chandelier from Shades of Light.
Mia recommends finding the few colors that speak to your soul and sticking with them. A small landscape painting by her sister-in-law,
Jeanne James, initially inspired her home’s soft palette. Mia loved the natural colors and was often drawn to these same shades
of blue-green. “Aqua, turquoise, sky, and cerulean blues have just always spoken to me,” she says. By primarily using these
colors throughout her rooms, she maintains a sense of uniformity and flow in the home. Mia creates interest with subtle variations
of the blue hues, such as the brighter sea blue on the sunroom ceiling and the grayish sky blue on the living room chairs.
All wall paint (unless otherwise noted): Paradise Beach (911) by Benjamin Moore.
Lamp: Balustrade Lamp by Niermann Weeks.
Another way Mia simplifies each room is by limiting the number and size of dominant pieces of furniture. “When I think about
my house, I realize that there is one very old piece in every room,” says Mia, “and it is usually the largest piece of furniture,
such as the French walnut buffet I use in the foyer.” She says to limit yourself to one or two antiques and make them grand
in scale because if your furniture has to fight for space or attention, it loses much of its impact. The grace in one beautifully
carved antique chest will carry an entire room.
Trumeau mirror: by Pruitt-Littleton.
Easel landscape: Jeanne James; 225/937-9219.
Floor painting: Keith Guy, Inc.; 504/277-4956.
About 17 years ago, Mia was surprised with a bonus check and immediately wrote a wish list of her favorite artists. Then she
started systematically buying pieces from every artist on the list. She made a new purchase each time she saved a little extra
money. “The art I have doesn’t necessarily go or match with my house,” Mia says. “It works because I love it.” She also believes
that framing makes the biggest impact and even a $10 painting can look totally amazing and original with the right frame.
Bird paintings: Woodland Respite I and Woodland Respite II by Jennifer Goldberger through The Garden Gates; 504/833-6699.
Bedding: Pearl Embroidered Duvet Cover and Sham by Pottery Barn.
Headboard: Leonel’s Fine Upholstery and Furniture; 504/469-0889 and James Snowden, Jr., Juniors Furniture Service LLC, Zachary, LA; 225/654-3949.
Headboard fabric: Ozborne Powder Blue by Premier Prints through Forsyth Fabrics.
Everything the Jameses own can work in most any room in their house. “If you look at a piece of furniture and it screams only
living room to you, skip it,” Mia urges. Her own living room is the perfect example. Everything in the space—the sofa, two
club chairs, and two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. Mia re-covered them for their current
location, but her fabric choices allow her to pull them into other rooms if needed. The ability to rotate furnishings is part
of the home’s peaceful, tranquil feeling. “I think continuity is really an essential part of everything I do,” Mia says.
Custom trumeau mirror: Jon McArthur; 225/288-2105.
Armchairs: Hanna chair in Chalk finish with raffia by Oly Studio.
Chandelier: Monique Chandelier by Julie Neill Designs; 504/899-4201.
A pair of French doors in the master bedroom opens into the back garden.
Wall paint: Linen White (912) by Benjamin Moore.
Linens: King French cases in White Dakota with plain edge, no flange, 12-inch Addison Embroidery Monogram in Gerrie Blue thread by Leontine Linens; 504/899-7833.
A Sunbrella-covered sectional and ottoman, plus a nearby dining table that seats eight, make this covered porch ideal for
Steal this Idea: A high coffee table allows a seating area to pinch-hit for dining
Pillows: made with Sunbrella Fabric by DyAnne Cavell and Carol Vorhoff; 225/664-7106.
Candelabra: Doble Paloma Candelabra by Jan Barboglio, available through thepicketfence.com.
Look for antique treasures of your own at one of Texas’s most famous flea markets.
Many of Mia’s most treasured furnishings, such as the antler chandelier in the kitchen and the china cabinet in the dining room, were purchased during shopping trips with her girlfriends to the antiques fairs around Round Top, Texas. Spread out over the course of two weeks, multiple events cover fields and fill barns with booths overflowing with the best antiques and flea market finds. The next fair is scheduled for around September 18 through October 1. For more information visit roundtop.org, roundtoptexasantiques.com, and roundtop-marburger.com.
Steal this Idea: Camouflage a blah kitchen island with a cypress table topped with walnut limestone.