We recently attended the inaugural Southern Style Now Festival in New Orleans, and the absolute highlight was Traditional Home magazine’s showhouse, a Queen Anne Victorian mansion located in the Uptown District on St. Charles Avenue. Aptly described by Curbed New Orleans as a “veritable funhouse for design lovers,” the showhouse is a spectacular homage to the region’s rich and colorful cultural traditions.
More than 25 local and national designers, all originally from the south, were invited to lend their contemporary vision to this uniquely southern-style house, and we were excited to have the opportunity to work with some of them by providing furniture and decor. One of those designers is Jonathan Savage of Nashville, who designed a bedroom in the guest cottage. Below, we talked to him about the project.
Ballard Designs: Tell us about the room you were assigned and how you envisioned a homeowner using this space.
Jonathan Savage: We were given a small space in the guest cottage, and when we design guest cottages there’s always a need for a living space and a bedroom. Lisa Mende did a wonderful job in the living space and I did the bedroom. There was not a lot of square footage in the bedroom, so to make it work was somewhat of a challenge. Every piece had to be important, because we didn’t have any real estate to waste. In general, we wanted the space to be soft and casual with an easy living feel, since it was a guest cottage, and I think we did that.
BD: This project was about reinterpreting traditional southern design through a modern lens. How did you go about that while adding your own unique stamp?
JS: We try to work with our clients to accommodate what they’re looking for. So if a client is in a Southern Colonial home, we’re going to stick with the architecture and let that drive the project. If we’re doing a loft downtown, it’s going to take on a more modern approach. Here, we wanted to create a transitional look. The daybeds with that Suzanne Kasler’s Blanc/Flax Stripe feel traditional, but the layout creates a more modern touch. The Gatsby fabric from Carlton V is a very clean, traditional pattern, but the way we used it made it more contemporary. We accented the room with contemporary art from Kayce Hughes, and I threw in the acrylic bar cart to really accentuate the modern nature of the art. The balance of the traditional pieces with contemporary art landed us in a transitional spot. Overall, the room appealed to so many different people.
BD: How much did the host city influence your design? How did you incorporate the distinct charms of New Orleans?
JS: We did a wrought iron light fixture with a motif that can be found on many railings throughout New Orleans. We made the windows sort of a focal point on the right side wall, and just flanked it with simple drapery, which I think is very New Orleans to be able to flip open a window and get some fresh air.
BD: What are the hallmarks of every southern house that you felt compelled to include?
JS: Southerners are known for their hospitality, and I think if you have a guest room, it’s always nice to have storage for your guests. Those wonderful Wicker Chests not only gives guests a place to put their luggage, but they also offer extra storage inside. We also put a bar cart in there. I think it’s nice to be able to stay in your room and have a drink and relax. Not everyone goes to bed at the same time or wakes up at the same time, especially when you’re partying in New Orleans!
BD: How did Ballard fit into your vision of the space?
JS: What’s so great about Ballard is you’ve got furniture and upholstery in all shapes and sizes, so the wide variety gave us the opportunity to pick and choose how we wanted to use the space. The Corner Daybeds really made the space — as limited as it was — come together. I realized to make the space function, it was going to have to have twin beds, and then I found these and knew they’d be perfect. The bedside table was small scale, too. We had to keep everything small scale, which is what I call human scale, because spaces today are so large and we couldn’t get into that. So Ballard had a great selection of small scale pieces for us.
BD: Was there a particular Ballard item that surprised you in some way or that you fell in love with?
JS: The Wicker Chests were the super stars. They caught the attention of everyone who walked in. Everyone asked where they came from, and when I said Ballard, no one could believe it.
BD: Was there anything you learned with this project as a designer that might influence your next project?
JS: If you’ve got brick, then you can always paint it. Painting the brick walls gave a texture to the space that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten with just a basic painted wall.
Learn more about Savage Interior Design, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. See more spaces from the Traditional Home Southern Style Now Show in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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