“This is a new construction with a very old soul,” says Debi Fremin as she reflects on Richard and Stephanie Huye’s lavishly appointed new home. A decorator with Echelon Interiors in Baton Rouge, which is owned by June Jackson and Stacey Davis, Fremin worked diligently to facilitate the vision of the homeowners.
“Stephanie loves New Orleans and its old architecture. We talked for weeks looking at pictures and getting our thoughts together. She had this vision of old New Orleans, so we agreed to bring in really decadent fabrics to complement the rustic architecture. Stephanie has been collecting old tiles, old light fixtures, and old architectural pieces that have gone over windows and in the construction of the kitchen cabinets, which have been made to look like old pieces of furniture,” she points out.
“The house is a journey through time and texture; it is a mix of the rustic and the decadent. Our team at Echelon Interiors had such a wonderful journey in accomplishing Stephanie’s dream.”
With a combined expertise that includes providing custom window treatments, custom bedding, furniture, rugs, art, and accessories, Echelon Interiors has been providing quality interior design services in the Baton Rouge area for more than 20 years. “The client had a vision of rustic architecture with lavish appointments in mind when she chose Echelon Interiors to furnish her home,” Davis points out. Jackson rejoins, “It is obvious when you see the attention to detail in this home that it has taken over two years to evolve from concept to completion.
Debi Fremin enjoyed assisting the clients with each and every feature of the home,” she concludes. “Her attention to detail makes her a great asset to the Echelon Interiors team. She likes to bond and connect with each of her clients. The close relationship is important to Debi, and that allows her to make selections based on a real understanding of the client.”
The lead decorator on the project, Fremin notes, “My job was to keep the construction of the home in focus and getting it to stay in that direction. This required respecting the client’s vision, while holding back in some instances.”
Jackson and Davis each have specialized areas of expertise that they bring to the table. Jackson creates custom window treatments and is known for her unique designs. Davis is dedicated to offering unique, interesting, and original pieces to clients, and she often suggests the exceptional items which make a room astonishing. The synergistic relationship between the two owners makes for seamless interior transformations. “No matter what your design challenges are, we are equipped to handle them,” Jackson states.
“The window treatment that June designed in the living room is phenomenal,” asserts Fremin. The indulgent and enduring living room design is enhanced with the exquisite multilayered window treatment that Jackson created. “It consists of rich fabrics and passementerie,” she states. “The drapery fabric is a carved bronze velvet with a gold metallic field, and it was imported from Italy.” In contrast to the rustic feel of the antique pine beams and brick arches in the living room are lavish furnishings, providing a feast for the eyes.
The carved stone fireplace mantel is supported by matching Antique Goddess corbels which were found by Fremin. “They had been salvaged from a pub in Brussels,” Jackson says. “Stephanie likes things with a history,” Fremin explains.
A cocktail table with an antiqued mirrored top on the carved base sits on an exquisite rug of scrolling vines and sprawling branches that swirl among the intricate blooms and buds. “Meticulously knotted by hand in wool and silk, the rich and deep ivories, crimsons, blacks, and vibrant golds shine like sunbeams,” Jackson reveals. “It is a truly indulgent room with such an enduring quality that will take your breath away.”
Inspired by the fabled architecture and history of New Orleans, the homeowners’ vision was to integrate the city’s time-honored beauty in the construction and interior design of the new residence. “I wanted a combination of old and very beautiful and elaborate things,” says Stephanie. “I collected newel posts for my stairs. I took the feet off of a clawfoot tub and used them for the kitchen cabinets. I have been collecting old cabinet doorknobs and very old doors. I wanted it to look like an older house and I wanted the furnishings and the draperies to be more elaborate and fine,” she points out.
Teamed up with architect Tommie Cockfield and builder Jacob Fakouri, Echelon Interiors worked with the clients to create a residence that seduces the eye at every turn. A walk through the Huye home renders the feeling of traveling through the ages. “It is an experience, a journey through history and culture,” reflects Fremin. Specialty finishes on walls and cabinets were done by Daina Tate.
“In the dining room, my original thought was to do plates behind the buffet. Instead, I remembered something that Stephanie had collected that she had shown me, an old recovered shelf. We put plates on it,” Fremin recalls. “Stephanie bought and collected things without any idea of where they were going, and it all worked out so well.”
“The rug in the dining room was hand-crafted out of premium virgin wool in deep, rich tones which capture a truly distinctive, sophisticated look, and it coordinates effortlessly with the window treatment,” says Jackson. The oversized custom designed and hand-painted cornice crowns the window treatment, which consists of chenille tapestry panels in rich, multicolored hues.
“The harmony of rustic architecture embellished with a fine rug, furnishings, and window treatments create the comfortable ambience desired by the clients in the living room,” Davis notes. “We chose a rug which consists of an old world pattern of hand-knotted vegetable-dyed wool, which easily suits the character of the home.”
Echelon commissioned a painting for the handsome smoking room. Done by a local artist, it depicts the clients and their friends as well as the Echelon Interiors designers at a party, and they are dressed in period attire. “The smoking room would please even the most serious cigar aficionado,” Jackson remarks. “The bar is phenomenal. It was inspired by an old bar in New Orleans,” Fremin states. The enticing atmosphere of this masculine room invites guests to get comfortable in the leather and hide chairs, which are arranged around a leather cocktail table with an embossed copper top.
An element of romance is found in the master bedroom suite. “The enchanting master bedroom was designed in keeping with the vision of the homeowner, who wanted rustic architecture embellished with fine furnishings, bedding, and window treatments,” Davis reveals. The opulent rouche top velvet draperies frame the bank of windows. “Inspired by the furnishings found in the estates of Monet, the spectacular canopy bed is graced with custom bedding,” she adds. “The hand carved mantel lends an elegant feel to the room.” The fine handmade wool rug is highlighted with delicate accents of genuine silk and features intricate detail.
“My favorite part of the house is my make-up area,” reveals Stephanie. “It’s like going into a fairy tale. There are drapes as you enter, a little chair with a bow on the back, wallpaper with flowers, and a little chaise lounge to take a nap on. When I want to get away from everything, with no TV and no phone, this is a beautiful little quiet space. My closet has mirrored doors that are very decorative, and it’s like a little dressing room,” she reflects.
New Orleans has captured the imagination of writers, artists, designers, and aesthetes for generations, and it has, once again, served to inspire the design of an intriguing home in Baton Rouge. Due to the combined efforts of the Echelon Interiors team and the homeowners, the opulent interior of the Huye residence aptly venerates the city’s rich cultural legacy. Fremin concludes, “Like the city that they love, Stephanie and Richard’s home is a true melting pot of time, places, and cultures—an old soul dressed up with the most lavish of fineries.”