This Baton Rouge Home Has a Grand History and a Classic Holiday Style
Harmonious updates preserve the soul of this A. Hays Town-designed home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
One of the Greats
"This house speaks for itself" says Joyce Eidson when asked about the Louisiana Colonial-style home that she and Woodus Humphrey have owned since 2015. It was designed by Louisiana architect A. Hays Town, whose signature style provides the house with its distinct voice. The home incorporates key architectural elements and has many unmistakable features that can be found in hundreds of Town's designs across the region—such as traditionally exterior components that were used indoors; salvaged, locally sourced materials; and interior woods that were hand chosen by the architect himself. Several of these homes have been featured on our very own pages over the years.
This house has a grand history, and it can be daunting to imagine making changes to such a storied structure. So Eidson enlisted the help of Colleen Waguespack, a Baton Rouge designer who knows how to preserve the character of a house while adding touches of contemporary charm to enliven the rooms. During the understated redesign, Waguespack and Eidson were careful to not only respect the architecture of the home but also celebrate the features that make it a classic.
They found that making a few subtle updates—such as incorporating well-chosen coats of paint, stains, and simple fabric selections—added a modern balance while also amplifying the handsome elements that are Town's design signatures. These included a wash for the cypress cabinets in the kitchen, a rich gray coat of paint for the walls of the cozy study, and inspired reupholstery for Eidson's existing pieces of furniture. The thoughtfully considered changes, when paired with a cohesive use of curated furnishings, create a space that's all at once light, bright, comfortable, and livable.
When the holidays arrive, a home like this one requests timeless infusions of joy. With that in mind, Waguespack sourced local cypress garlands and wreaths and then mixed them with elegant pieces from her decor-and-accessories line, Fig & Dove, to complement the space and decorate for Christmas. This Baton Rouge home has a long history that will continue to unfold, holiday after holiday and season after season, thanks to these modifications that preserve its soul and enhance its distinct voice.
"Using paint in a thoughtful way allows the architecture and materials—especially the wood—to pop," interior designer Colleen Waguespack says. Homeowner Joyce Eidson adds, "The goal was to brighten things up, but we were careful not to change too much, since this is an A. Hays Town home."
Consider Small Changes
"We painted in layers," says Waguespack. "Once we did one wall, we assessed it and decided whether to do more." This safeguards against making quick changes that could permanently alter the fabric of the design. "Sometimes, a slight update can soften a space," she says.
Woodsy elements, such as the locally sourced cypress garlands hanging from the banister, serve as subtle and elegant decorations for the holidays. An understated garland like this one is easy to re-create with what's on hand in your backyard or available at the local garden center.
Let There Be Warmth
Fashion Unexpected Vignettes
Folk artist Bill Hemmerling created the eye-catching portrait of American photographer Fonville Winans that hangs in the window of the study. It was painted on a screen and then framed. Winans was well known for his captivating scenes of southern Louisiana.
Work Wonders with a Wash
Waguespack got a faux-finisher to lighten the kitchen cabinets. "We included some open shelving and added a myriad of washes of soft color to neutralize the orange hues of the existing cypress finish," she says.
Make a Statement with Neutrals
Waguespack incorporated furniture that Eidson and Humphrey had amassed over several decades. "I took the pieces that would work and reupholstered them in textural neutrals to make what the couple already owned work together in a collected yet unified way," says Waguespack. Town himself carved the mantel pictured above on-site.
Instead of placing one large Christmas tree in the living room, Waguespack gathered a trio of smaller ones and accented them with flocks of white dove ornaments from her decor line, Fig & Dove.
"The courtyard's circular brickwork and curved archways are two of my favorite things about this home," says Eidson. "Town's own son actually built this house." The St. Francis of Assisi statue in the wall niche was a gift from Town to the original owners.