Classically Elegant New Orleans Home
Decorator Brannan Geary lightens the town's signature formal style in favor of a more livable elegance.
"I'm a traditionalist, an old soul, and a chintz fanatic who was heavily influenced by my grandmother, but I'm also not into fuss," says Brannan Geary. Given her appreciation for classic style, it's no surprise that she and her husband, Scott, live in a Mediterranean Revival home built by Scott's great-grandfather in 1926. Luckily for Brannan and Scott, their house survived almost 90 years of hurricanes and regrettable design fads with both its structural and architectural integrity intact.
The Dining Room
Located right off the foyer, the dining room was deliberately designed to be a lively greeting for guests—the walls in particular. "Who doesn't want to eat surrounded by palm trees?" Brannan says. The mural painted on all four walls has subdued green and brown tones that keep it from hijacking the rest of the room's decor. The bronze curtains that ground the walls and the floor-to-ceiling French doors start with neat pleats at the top and lightly pouf out at the bottom.
The Dining Room
She limited the room to only two dark wood antiques: a set of graceful yet sturdy French dining chairs and a classic sideboard.
In the study, the calamine-colored walls (Farrow & Ball's Smoked Trout) take the stuffiness out of the walnut chest.
The Living Room
The largest space in the home demanded grand-scale decorating, which Brannan executed in down-to-earth colors and textures. Gracious curtains in a warm rust color and an 8- by 11-foot trompe l'oeil screen make the necessary formal, old-world references. She also banished all old-house drabness with proper lighting. "In the past, people seemed to oppose overhead lighting, but I've got to be able to see! My electricians installed totally indiscreet ceiling lights."
The Living Room
A selection of cozy upholstered pieces in a range of greens, golds, and oranges compose one simple and open seating arrangement, radiating out from the sleek acrylic coffee table. Abstract art by New Orleanian Amanda Talley and a gallery white fireplace add contemporary accents.
Despite the popularity of today's open way of living, Brannan rallies against it, saying, "I like a kitchen to be separate from the entertaining areas. Who wants to look at the prep work or the dirty dishes?" Brannan did temper the room's coolness with limestone countertops, warm beige walls and ceiling (Benjamin Moore's Tapestry Beige), and traditional French bistro-style barstools.
"Children (and parents) deserve rooms that will grow along with them," says Brannan, who used the classic Colefax and Fowler fabric Bowood to create a youthful and ladylike imprint in her daughter's otherwise neutral room. Learning to live with antiques comes with the territory of being a child in New Orleans. So Brannan wisely incorporated an older cabinet (with a gray wash) as a bedside table and outfitted it with a pair of fragile but not priceless porcelain lamps.