See This New Orleans Ranch's Classic Country Makeover
New Orleans designer Shaun Smith gives a 1950s ranch a farmhouse persona with a few key updates.
"I have wanted a house outside town for years," explains New Orleans designer Shaun Smith. "Then this home came on the market. It's tucked away on a really great street, and it almost feels like you're in the country, which I know sounds crazy in New Orleans."
This 1950s ranch-style home struck most prospective buyers as a tear-down, but Smith gave the 1,900-square-foot property some TLC instead. "If a house has charm, I like to honor what was originally thought out for it," he says. "I set a mental goal to make as few structural changes as possible."
For Smith, that TLC materialized in the form of creative paint jobs, choice light fixtures, and a menagerie of antiques and prints designed to play off each other as opposites. His aesthetic mixes modern and classic pieces. "I pride myself on bringing together all periods and styles in a space," he says. With this being a country house, though, he leaned more traditional, which also provided a chance to revisit his roots.
The house is dotted with heirloom furniture passed down from his grandmother and with patterns his mother used in his childhood home in Madison, Mississippi. "A lot of nostalgia comes along with being Southern and receiving things that are passed down," Smith says. "Previously, I had kept meaningful pieces in storage, but I got to use all of them in this house."
First and foremost, he approached each room with an eye toward its function. "I prefer traditional spaces: a real dining room, the TV room separate from the formal living room," he says. "That type of layout is better for entertaining." The result is a home that's simultaneously warm and bold, that's inviting to Smith's guests and inspiring to everyone who steps inside.
"Some people think you can't paint sliding glass doors, but you can," Smith says. Rather than tearing out the old, rusty doors, he painted the frames—as well as the French doors—the same color as the room (Chappell Green 83; designerpaintstore.com), which created coziness through continuity. He then added the molding detail above the glass and installed a seagrass carpet. "The sunroom is everyone's favorite area, and the updates were inexpensive to do," he adds.
The Dining Room
Smith loves the formality of a beautiful dining room—and he is adamant about using it. "I pull out all of the good china and glassware," he says. The only wall he moved in the house was in the dining room. He opened the space by 2 feet (into what was a laundry room), which allowed for more symmetry between the table and the French doors. It also gave him enough space to add a chair and a love seat, creating an additional area for friends to sit and drink wine. A lacquer paint on the 9-foot ceiling reflects more light, making the room feel taller.
The Living Room Before
The Living Room After
Smith lightened the room with three simple techniques. Using the same paint color and finish (White Dove OC-17; benjaminmoore.com) for the walls, ceiling, and shelving made the built-ins disappear and helped the room as a whole look bigger. He whitewashed the floors with a combination of bleach and satin-finish stain. "A satin finish prevents shine, making the floors feel more original," Smith explains. Finally, he filled the room with library lights. "I love their warm glow reflecting off the room's lacquered walls at night," he says.
The Kitchen Before
The Kitchen After
Smith had his cabinetmaker build a Monogram Integrated Glass-Door Refrigerator by GE (monogram.com) into the framework. "It completely disappears, and people are always shocked when I open it," he says. He kept the cabinetry minimal, banking it all below the countertops and filling the blank wall with graphic tile running up to the ceiling. He then hung an antique copper lantern as an extra accent.
Smith's favorite part of the kitchen is the pantry. He ditched the door, wallpapered the back (Dublin in Terracotta, twigswallpaperandfabric.com), and turned it into a dish pantry. “Every night, I have a light on in there, and look at the beautiful things my mom has given me and that I have collected on trips.”
The Boy's Guest Bedroom
"I had almost every Ralph Lauren equestrian thing possible growing up. This room is my tribute to that," he says. The wallpaper (Gallop Club; twigswallpaperandfabric.com) makes the horse connection. And those sconces? They're by Ralph Lauren (Anette Swing Arm Sconce in Natural Brass; circalighting.com). "So I did get him in there," Smith adds with a laugh.
The Girl's Guest Bedroom
“I have always loved that wallpaper,” Smith says (Pyne Hollyhock, fschumacher.com). “My mom had pillows in it growing up.” Smith kept the pattern uniform by repeating it in the draperies. “If you’re doing really graphic wallpaper in a smaller space, not breaking that line makes it feel a little larger.”
The Guest Bath Before
The Guest Bath After
What aspect of the renovation was Smith most proud of? "Keeping the original tile in the baths," he says. "Everyone thought I would have to gut them." Instead, he was able to freshen them up with a contrasting black paint (Black 0029; finepaintsofeurope.com), which added a touch of masculinity.
The Master Bedroom
A Bunny Williams' Bamboo Bed ground this bedroom. Symmetrical design gives this bedroom a masculine feel without being overwhelming. A pair of blue ikat armchairs and navy-accented linens in the bedroom picks up the hints of navy in the bold, red roman shades.
The Master Bath
Determined to keep the original blue tile in the master bath, Smith updated it with two rolls of Raphaël wallpaper (sandbergwallpaper.com). "It added a lot to the space without much expense. I often tell people to look for discounted rolls of wallpaper on eBay," he says.
For added character, Smith swapped out a traditional garage door for carriage doors that "look like barn doors," he says. Then he turned the space into his office.
The Side Yard
"You've got to have a white picket fence around a country house," Smith says, although he jokes he added it mostly so his Cavalier King Charles spaniels could "talk" to people who are passing by.