Neoclassical Nuance

Greek Revival grandeur and modern-day style happily mix in this new Louisiana home.

Text and styling: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photography: Sara Essex Bradley

It has all of the modern luxuries of new construction, but this home was designed with good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality in mind,” interior designer Connie Seitz says of her clients’ 12,000-square-foot home in Mandeville, Louisiana.

“Despite its size, it’s very warm and welcoming—just like the owners. Here, you’re never just a guest—you’re family.”

Set on 3½ acres, the Greek Revival–style manse bears a striking resemblance to its architectural ancestors along Louisiana’s historic River Road, also known as Plantation Row. To build on this lineage, architect George Hopkins, Jr., borrowed Neoclassical elements from those centuries-old structures and incorporated them into the new design. Outside, the home’s hipped roof, arched dormers, and two-story Ionic columns convey authenticity, along with sweeping double porches accessible from the French doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, a grand curved staircase, antique heart pine flooring, coffered ceilings, and cypress-paneled walls offer further proof that history repeats itself.

Massive columns, broad porches, symmetrical side wings, and floor-to-ceiling windows add to the estate’s grandeur.

“It was important to us that the interior architecture and décor remain true to the home’s deep Southern roots,” says Seitz, who worked nearly five years on the project with design associate Christine Diggs. “This was especially true with the floorplan. Today’s trend in homebuilding leans toward open-concept design, but we opted for a more traditional floorplan instead to keep spaces defined for casual or formal living and entertaining. In a house this large, it makes the rooms feel cozier and more intimate.”

To create cohesion, the generously proportioned rooms are unified by creamy white walls and splashes of soft greens, grays, and blues pulled in from the exquisite views of the pool terrace and gardens. According to the designers, the ethereal palette connects the spaces while also lightening the load of the richly stained floors and offering a crisp backdrop for the homeowners’ thoughtfully curated collections of antique and contemporary art and furnishings.

“We worked to create a seamless flow between the interior and exterior by drawing the eye through the rooms and out to the pool and lush landscape beyond,” designer Connie Seitz says of the great room. To do this, she enlisted whisper-soft hues of blue, green, and ivory to echo Mother Nature’s palette. She then layered natural materials like walnut, wool, linen, and raw silk for textural appeal.

Throughout the house, Louis XV and Louis XVI case goods and chairs purchased locally and abroad honor South Louisiana’s Creole culture. These pieces, with their substantial size and eye-catching, intricately carved details, anchor the rooms. Their patina is tempered by shiny mirrored tables and sleek acrylic benches, just as ladylike sofas slipcovered in linen make a pleasing contrast to the more masculine leather upholstery. On the walls, early Amsterdam and Havell Edition Audubon prints nod to Louisiana’s rich art history, while contemporary abstracts and landscapes by local artists (including Seitz’s husband and the homeowners’ daughter) wink to its bright future. Even the final layers of decorative details are paired in a yin and yang fashion. Chipped giltwood fragments and plush Fortuny pillows mingle among chic crystal obelisks and graphic modern rugs for a look that is elegant, eclectic, and evolved over time.

“Furnishing and decorating the home was a careful balancing act,” says Seitz. “For every antique, there is something modern; for every nubby, crusty texture, there is something silky and smooth; and for every masculine element, there is something flirty and feminine. Juxtapositions in provenance, period, texture, and taste are what make this home unique and very personal.”

In the entry, the weight of a heavily carved and gilded mirror from France is balanced by the patina of the antique Louis XVI painted chairs and chest.

 

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