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Five couples share their unique approaches to home entertaining


  • Photo by Greg Miles

Liz & Austin Kent | Carrollton area dining room

For Liz and Austin Kent, owners of the Mellow Mushroom on Oak Street, good design, good food and good company often merge in the dining room of their Uptown home. Whether hosting an impromptu late-night get-together featuring pizza from their restaurant, grilling for friends or throwing a theme party, the couple says the space is made for entertaining. Designed by Penny Francis of Eclectic Home, it includes several modern consoles, a bar cart and a contemporary dining table flexible enough to be dressed for a sit-down dinner or piled high with party gifts. The conversation piece is a set of six dining chairs. Custom ordered with chalkboards on the back, they make a creative alternative to place cards when marked with guests' names — or special occasion titles like Birthday Girl and Bride-To-Be.

  • Photo by Greg Miles

Eric & Jennifer Rigby | Uptown living room

Jennifer and Eric Rigby's 19th-century Uptown cottage was renovated by a previous owner in 2000. But it wasn't until decorator Donna Maselli helped sync the interior design with the Rigbys' lifestyle that they really used it to entertain. Eric, a CPA and financial planner, lists intimate dinners for close friends, wine parties and book club gatherings among the casual affairs the couple holds at home. They especially enjoy the living room. Maselli lightened the room, which was a drab brown, and selected new furnishings. She also convinced the Rigbys to place a television above the mantel, an amenity they use regularly for watching movies and football. "Donna was so insightful to take a room that was extremely formal and make it a very livable space," Eric says. Maselli also chose art that resonates with the couple. The painting above the grand piano depicts a fisherman casting a net in Mobile Bay — an ode to the years when Eric used to visit Mobile, Alabama, where Jennifer attended college.

  • Photo by Greg Miles

Jon Kemp & John Reed

French Quarter courtyard

Photo by greg miles

When writer Jon Kemp and her husband, criminal defense attorney John Reed, purchased their 200-year-old French Quarter home at public auction, it was a derelict crack house. Today, the property is a shining example of Spanish Colonial architecture and has been honored by the Vieux Carre Commission. The site of the first integrated school in New Orleans after the Civil War and later a doll museum, La Rionda-Correjolles House is a lovely, patinated residence with two courtyards, which are popular venues for dinners, weddings, nonprofit fundraisers and more. The front courtyard contains a parterre and fountain. A covered pathway connects it to the larger rear courtyard, which features a Luxembourg Gardens-inspired lap pool. When entertaining, Kemp employs a mismatched assortment of tables, white tablecloths and silver candelabra for a casually elegant style that is particularly enchanting at night and "essential to the way we entertain," she says.

  • Photo by Greg Miles

Billy & Denisa Means | New Orleans Saints kitchen

Instead of going for the gold when designing the kitchen of their second home, Billy and Denisa Means went for the black and gold. Avid New Orleans Saints fans, they wanted the kitchen to celebrate the colors and symbols associated with their beloved home team. In 2012, interior designer Jennifer Kelly of Design Lab (who worked with the couple to gut and renovate the entire four-story 1835 Creole townhouse) helped them bring the vision to life. Black-and-gold design elements include a marble tile floor with a laser-cut fleur-de-lis, the chandelier and medallion from which it hangs, brick backsplash (from Stafford Tile), black galaxy granite with gold flecks, brass plumbing fixtures and an iron fleur-de-lis crest above the stove. Old doors purchased from The Bank Architectural Antiques were reworked as pantry doors with fleurs-de-lis sandblasted into the antique glass. French doors open to the courtyard, and a 13-foot-long island with six barstools provides plenty of room for serving and seating.

  • Photo by Theresa Cassagne

Penny & Quentin Dastugue | Covington great room

"If we're sitting on our porch having a glass of wine, someone always drops by," Penny Dastugue says of the Covington cottage she and husband Quentin Dastugue built recently. "First they come to the porch, then they frequently come into the living area." The living area, like the rest of the newly built house, is designed to fit in with the ambience of an old town while offering an open floor plan and modern comforts and conveniences. The couple worked with designers Cindy St. Romain and Anne Hammett of St. Romain Interiors to make the room cozy yet accommodating. (The couple recently hosted a fundraiser for 125 people.) Matching sofas flank the space, while smaller seating areas provide additional conversation spots. Two separate doors lead to the house's wraparound porches so traffic flows smoothly. The living room also is open to the kitchen, where guests gravitate during events like football parties. A masonry, A. Hays Town–inspired fireplace made of the same old brick used on the home's exterior and featuring a stepped-out mantel provides a homey focal point.

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