When newlyweds CeCe and Trevor Colhoun decided to put down roots in CeCe's native New Orleans, finding a suitable house seemed like a challenge. Having grown up in a grand turn-of-the-century home near Audubon Park, CeCe knew the constant demands of maintaining an old house and was adamant about buying a new one — a rarity in Uptown.
Amazingly, CeCe's mother, Mimi Bowen, stumbled upon a brand-new house less than three weeks into the search. Constructed by developer Jim McPhaille, the house was located on a leafy street by Audubon Park. With three floors, more than 6,000 square feet of living space, a double garage, outdoor porches, a roomy yard and a panoramic rear view of the park, it was 85 percent complete.
The couple was living in Dallas at the time, but they rushed to see the house, quickly put in an offer, and once they purchased the property, were as surefooted about choosing a designer as they'd been about the house itself. CeCe called in her childhood friend Tommy Clements, a designer with his mother's firm, Kathleen Clements Design in Los Angeles.
"When I was a kid, they lived in a jewel box of a house," CeCe recalls of the Clements family. "I'd never seen anything like it. I was used to lots of French antiques and one-note decorating, but Kathleen always liked to mix things up. She knew how to strike the perfect balance of old and new, beautiful antiques with simple, clean-lined modern pieces and statement art. I used to ask her if she would decorate my house one day."
Both CeCe, owner of CeCe Shoe, and Trevor, managing partner of Walnut Financial Services, wanted a relaxing, family-friendly house. With two dogs and children on the horizon (their sons Trevor Jr., TJ, and Blaise are now 2 1/2 years and 6 months old), comfort, durability and approachability were essential. "We didn't want people to feel like they couldn't sit down somewhere," CeCe says.
The house's setting was central to the design scheme. French doors and porches overlook the park, so CeCe and Clements made the most of the views by choosing calming hues and simple, washable fabrics.
"We wanted to evoke a sense of peace and allow the setting to have synergy with the indoors," she says.
The palette of soothing neutrals also worked as the perfect foil for the couples' art collection. "Trevor came to the family with an impressive art collection that is mainly large, colorful, contemporary pieces, so the large wall space appealed to us," CeCe says. "His art gives the indoors life and color and makes the setting playful and vibrant."
During the holidays, CeCe takes a similar decorating approach, using neutral colors and natural materials as an unobtrusive backdrop for fresh, fragrant greenery. Burlap adorns the Christmas stockings and tree skirt while raffia and kitchen twine wrap gifts and garlands. She foregoes the formality of fine china in favor of simple Arte Italica pottery combined with the polish of silver and crystal.
Matters of style are second nature to CeCe, who was raised around fashion. Her mother, Mimi Bowen, owns the woman's clothing boutique Mimi, and a year ago, CeCe opened her own shoe boutique inside her mother's store.
"I grew up in that shop," CeCe says. "I went through all the incarnations of the different locations. And by the time I was 13, I went on my first buying trip to New York."
The Colhouns will spend their first Christmas at home this year, unwrapping presents by the tree, which CeCe placed next to the French doors facing the park. The gifts offered by the home itself are something the family will enjoy even when the holidays end.
"The light of the park is amazing down here," CeCe says. "The history of this magnificent park, coupled with its beauty, gives us peace and pleasure every day."