How does a house built for a couple become a family-friendly house for a party of five? At one Lake Vista home, a family (who asked not to be named) faced this challenge. Designed by New Orleans architect and artist Errol Barron in 2002, the house already had open rooms and spaces for outdoor living. With a few minor adjustments and help from designer Jill Dupre of Jill Dupre Design, the transition was easy.
The house's unique design lent itself well to a larger family. Originally designed for a piano teacher and her husband, the dwelling included a spacious music room with two grand pianos. Large and private, the music studio was the ideal spot for a master suite. The music room's separate exterior was eliminated. The homeowners reconfigured the breakfast area to accommodate the whole family. Because green space and outdoor living areas are integral to the house, which is built around a courtyard and overlooks a lane that runs through Lake Vista, they also worked with Kim Alvarez of Alvarez + Basik to landscape.
Dupre knew her clients would have to buy furniture, because their new home was larger than the last. With three children, the active family would also require durable pieces that could stand up to wear and tear while being aesthetically pleasing. Dupre's goals were incorporating things the clients already had, making the house comfortable and livable and marrying the interior with the architecture. Dupre layered the interior slowly. Furniture came from Arteriors, Jonathan Adler, Anthropologie and West Elm, among other places. Dupre composed mood boards for all but the kids' rooms and is adding finishing touches.
"We went about it pretty slowly," Dupre says. "Most people can't do everything at once. We started with the living room. They made lists of things that were most important."
Dupre helped select the rug, tables, lighting and accessories. "It was pretty bare," she says. "I helped them think about what they needed."
Dupre uses custom pieces to give her clients' homes individuality. "I made pillows, and that can be less expensive than buying off the rack," she says. She also used modern and vintage pieces to give the interior a contemporary feel. A sculptural modern lamp, a cadre of white vases on the traditional dining table, a pedestal table with a modern-vintage top in the breakfast nook, Dupre's floor pillow designs and a whimsical tree decal bring a fresh viewpoint.
Designer and client worked with a foundation of neutrals not unlike the natural palette in the outdoor areas. Art and accent pieces bring vivid pops of color. Artist Monique Coco McCall's Warhol-esque portraits inspired a turquoise bench paired with a sleek Oly console.
Outside, Alvarez overhauled the landscaping and helped the clients furnish the courtyard and porch.
There have been a few live-and-learn moments. With three active children, the family has been through two reproduction versions of Arne Jacobsens' iconic egg chair. But this is a home where family, friends, comfort and memories are more important than a chair.
"I love coming to this house," Dupre says. "It is open and sunny and welcoming, exactly like this family is. And there is always a yummy smell coming from the kitchen."