Reminiscent of Tuscan villas and California palazzos, businessman Kent Byron’s Lafayette home has matured beautifully since it was built 10 years ago. Architect Ricky Albert, interior designer Mari McCarron, and builder Bob Romero collaborated with the owner to create the beginnings of a sprawling home in the Village of River Ranch.
Byron’s residence was one of the first elaborate homes to be built in this highly popular traditional neighborhood development created by “smart growth” architect Steve Oubre, a frontrunner of the New Urbanism movement who was a protégé of internationally acclaimed architect Andres Duany, creator of Seaside, Florida.
In the 10 years since Byron’s home was constructed, the landscaping has flourished; stucco, stone, and copper have aged to a rich patina, and a new decade has begun with the interiors re-imagined, refreshed, and redesigned by Jeffery McCullough, a Lafayette, Atlanta, and New York-based designer and art consultant. McCullough completed the project in January.
The courtyard remains neutral and natural with slight pops of color that serve as a prelude for the vibrant new surprises and treasures that are found within. There are intriguing nooks and architectural flourishes around every corner. It is a showplace, with a nod to tradition yet firmly rooted in the present. While the first floor has retained a rather traditional ambience, the second floor has been transformed into a contemporary, sleek space under McCullough’s direction.
“There is nothing like it in Lafayette,” says McCullough, who spent a year updating the home. “This house has been a labor of love for the owner. It has been a dream project. The owner encouraged me to shop for art and furnishings in galleries all over the world for the past year to create his sanctuary. He is a very busy man and he truly loves his home.”
With multiple dining, sitting, relaxing, and reading areas throughout the property, one is transported to the kind of deluxe resorts usually found in exotic locations rather than in south Louisiana. It is an unusual, and rather special house for River Ranch.
“My client decided to expand his property and purchased the next door lot. He landscaped it and built a park. He has a very extensive outdoor living area,” McCullough points out. The home includes an outdoor kitchen, pool, and a separate outdoor living area complete with a stone fireplace adorned with contemporary art.
Ted Viator’s original landscaping plan for the home has been developing over the years as areas have been added and modified. Blake Gilmore of the Cutting Edge recently oversaw the design and implementation of an entire “park” area based on trips to New York’s Central Park, a favorite of the homeowner. Thanks to Gilmore, Byron can now relish moments in his very own private park featuring cherry laurel, Arizona cedar, and cypress trees, just to name a few of the many specimens found on the rather expansive property in River Ranch.
The deep loggia running along the back of the living and dining rooms extends the entertaining area and provides a second living room with comfortable wood and iron outdoor furniture. Plush custom pillows designed by McCullough and fabricated by Pauline Hayden feature Holly Hunt and Rose Tarlow fabrics that McCullough discovered during a spring trip to Miami. Although the architecture is Tuscan, an abstract oyster painting over the rustic outdoor fireplace reminds visitors they are still in Louisiana and near the Gulf of Mexico. The artist, Mallory Page Chastant (a Lafayette native who is based in New Orleans), is a favorite of McCullough and the homeowner.
In the foyer, the parabolic ceiling, painted by artist Lauren Daspit, makes a grand statement upon entering the home filled with fine antiques, fresh modern pieces, and an impressive international art collection. Shapely antique urns from Au Vieux Paris Antiques in Breaux Bridge, filled with hydrangea creations by Margaret Sonnier, soften the foyer’s architecture.
In sharp contrast to the ornate sideboard, sconces, and antique mirror in the entry, abstract art and mid-century modern furniture draw guests into the living room, the primary entertaining area of the spacious home.
The adjacent study was transformed into a new room when the iron and bronze Stillpoint hanging sculpture by Virginia Woods was installed (the stunning piece designed with interlocking circles was commissioned by McCullough). Woods’ intriguing sculpture serves as a necessary organic focal point in a room distinguished by rather masculine flourishes.
Pairs of benches and club chairs keep the study balanced and provide comfortable and adequate conversation and reading spots that are illuminated by Jonathan Adler adjustable floor lamps. Whimsical touches come in the form of a bronze ostrich sculpture by Colombian artist Nano Lopez of Naples, Florida; and a musically inspired, painted screen (purchased at Lafayette’s annual Big Easel Art Festival) by artist Brooke Wilke.
Working with existing pieces selected by Mari McCarron, Jeffery McCullough lightened the tone of the once dark master bedroom simply by choosing to pull the lighter colors of the Persian rug (from Cyrus Rugs) and the Pino Awakening and Second Thoughts paintings. The Shawn Dulaney abstract painting over the bed was found at Sears-Peyton Gallery in New York’s Chelsea arts district. New York potter Christopher Spitzmiller’s gourd bedside table lamps were custom colored to complement the custom curtains by Pauline Hayden.
Inspired by the distressed wood of the ceiling and design and color of the custom stencil by Lauren Daspit, McCullough selected French antiques (a mirror, a marble console, and brass candlesticks) from dealer Robert Smith of Au Vieux Paris Antiques to create the perfect entry to the large master suite. Adding color, texture, and organic shapes, the 20th-century ceramics were selected from Leo Design in New York’s West Village.
Upon entering the den on the second floor, one is transported to another world—a fresh, modern, and comfortable world envisioned by McCullough for the homeowner, who desired a retreat similar to those seen in his travels to New York and Europe. By keeping all furnishings primarily neutral, an ever-growing art collection takes center stage.
In the upstairs den, Caroline Chunn McCarthy’s large oil on canvas abstract over the custom Saladino sofa introduces the colors that flow throughout the second floor. A commissioned diptych by Hope Hebert anchors one end of the den, serving as the perfect backdrop for a Barcelona-style leather chair.
Smaller pieces of art by Candace Greer (including a tabletop square oyster painting), McCarthy, and Provincetown artists Mark Palmer and Laurence Young (represented in Louisiana by Rue du Pont Galerie in Breaux Bridge), round out the warm-toned, primarily abstract pieces to be found in both guestrooms adjacent to the den. A shag rug from Cyrus Rugs in Lafayette grounds this inviting and warm space that is perfect for hanging out and providing the homeowner a sanctuary after a busy day. “He enjoys relaxing in the upstairs den,” McCullough comments.
An all-neutral guest bedroom is given a shot in the arm with brilliantly colored abstract paintings by a trio of Lafayette natives: Erin Chance Fenstermaker (over the bed), Mallory Page Chastant (on a side wall), and Kathy Dumesnil (above the bedside table). A butterfly pillow from Lamp Designs adds an electrifying finishing touch to an otherwise understated room.
The upholstered guestroom bed is surrounded by modern, graphic pieces of furniture, art, and fabrics. Mid-century modern Hollywood glamour comes in the form of Thomas O’Brien-designed bedside tables from Albarado’s. Kathryn Crosby’s abstract painting anchors the bed wall, while a pair of organic, nature-inspired pieces by Rue du Pont Galerie artist Joy Gardner is at a bedside eye-level.
Mallory Page Chastant created the abstract shams on the bed. Rounding out the geometric and neutral theme are custom curtains by Pauline Hayden made from Hinson and Company’s “Circles” fabric trimmed in chocolate faux suede tape from M and J Trims, a New York City garment district staple. The Trina Turk lumbar pillow on the bed and quilted throw on the back of the reading chair were found at Provincetown’s Yates-Kennedy.
“For the upstairs den and guest bedrooms, I was asked to create the feeling of a New York-style, contemporary apartment,” says McCullough. “Both bedrooms have French doors that open onto the balcony upstairs, which provides a beautiful view.”