Many of us will be “nesting” rather than traveling this holiday season, and that means a greater focus on getting our homes ready for holiday entertaining. Decorating a home for Christmas is a treasured tradition we look forward to all year. Some decorators go for bold colors, while others prefer minimalism.
In Mandeville, down a quiet street in the Pintail Trace neighborhood, stands a grand European-style home that anyone would enjoy decorating for the holiday season. Like a blank canvas, the neutral color palette is inviting for those who enjoy fashioning seasonal décor.
The sprawling residence is owned by contractor Brett Davis and his wife, Paula, a distinguished artist. Brett, Paula, and their children formerly resided in a smaller home located in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. They decided to move to the Northshore a few years ago to build their larger, new dream house: a center two-story residence with a one-story wing, five bedrooms, five baths, a pool and a patio complete with a dining area and a small cabana.
Paula contacted Beth Assaf, owner of Rug Chic Home Décor in Mandeville, to help her decorate their home for Christmas this year. “We were trying to create a simple, elegant style with decorations that would reflect the style of their house,” Assaf says. “Most importantly, we did not want it to be overdone.” Assaf’s minimalist approach to decorating the house resulted in a tastefully elegant holiday setting. For sparkle, she embellished the rooms with splashes of silver to complement the serene color theme, which consists of various shades of white in the communal living areas.
“For the Davis residence, we used crystal, clear glass, mercury glass, and a little platinum,” Assaf notes. “Since there is a lot of warmth in the home, we also added warm colors like silvery blue and greenish gold. Most of the ornaments we used on the Christmas tree and throughout the house are from France. It was a beautiful home to decorate. We are a home furnishing store, and we work with a lot of interior designers. As long as we have enough notice, we can decorate homes for the season.”
Matthew Voelkel (M.Arch, Tulane University) was instrumental in the original design of the Davis home. He is the owner and principal designer of Studio MV, which specializes in residential design, while offering complete services, from the initial concept to the final finishes, colors, and furnishings. Voelkel brought on his associate, interior designer Holly Biggs, to assist with the project.
“Matt’s design concept was to use classic scale, proportion, and rhythm,” states Biggs. “We used shades of white and neutrals for the interior. The whole living space is wide open, so the neutrals flow from space to space. The concept was to make the walls neutral, while letting the art and furniture serve as the accent.”
The exterior of the home is grand in scale, and is enhanced by white stone with a smooth finish created with a limestone and stucco blend. The arched cedar French doors at the front entrance make an elegant statement upon arrival. Although the exterior is classic in design, the interior is streamlined and largely contemporary.
The inviting foyer is embellished with beautiful trumeau mirrors and oversized iron sconces. “The foyer is a classic center hall with flanking mirrors and benches, designed to create a reflective, minimalist approach,” Biggs says. At the end of the foyer is a stairwell styled with sculptural iron railing and an iron chandelier designed by Paula. The stairwell is festooned with festive Christmas garlands for the holidays.
A breakfast nook near the stairs is distinguished by a round lacquered table and several chairs in various styles, lending a casual touch. Near the floor-to-ceiling windows is a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with oversized silver and white bulbs and sprays of glittering decorative branches that protrude gracefully from the towering tree.
Since most of the walls in the Davis residence have a neutral, subdued color palette, the overall sleek design concept facilitates an open, graceful flow from the great room to the dining room and breakfast area. The walls throughout the home are embellished with a diverse collection of art, including Paula’s works as well as paintings by notable local artists.
Symmetry brings order to an array of treasures in the living area of the great room. A roaring fire and structural antique wooden beams create an inviting, relaxed setting that is softened by iron and glass lanterns dangling from the ceiling. A sleek, two-tiered antiqued mirrored table, natural linen sofas complemented by natural linen draperies, a pair of faux bois demilunes on each side of the fireplace, and a custom Oushak rug add elegance to the room.
The adjoining open, airy kitchen is centered by a large white marble island with a dark walnut cabinet that provides ample storage. “The surround cabinets are a custom color and glaze, and the kitchen hood is stucco and plaster with an antique wood beam,” Biggs points out. “The beams in the living room and kitchen are antique beams that Paula searched for,” she adds.
The dining room is appointed with a handsome, reclaimed wood and iron chandelier, and a large contemporary painting that adds bold colors to the otherwise neutral white color scheme. “The arched doors and opening create a loggia concept,” Biggs observes. The dining room is flanked by a terrace that leads outside to the pool. One is able to view the pool area from almost every room in the spacious residence.
The understated master bedroom provides a serene retreat for the owners. A silver starburst mirror and a crystal chandelier complement the hammered silver finish of an iron four-poster bed. The spacious master bath has all the creature comforts of a luxury spa, including a large, rectangular whirlpool tub that is adjoined to a walk-through shower backed by a wall made of glass mosaic tiles in shades of brown. “The horizontal stripe creates the accent wall,” notes Biggs. A large flat-screen television positioned above a stainless steel fireplace, and a deluxe coffee bar add to the relaxed setting.
From the spacious, open living areas to the sleek contemporary furnishings and tasteful Christmas décor, the Davis home is an utterly inviting, artful dwelling that beckons merriment for the holidays.