Photography by Tria Giovan
When Houstonian Michael Whalen bought a storied house in the French Quarter, he asked Houston designer Katie Scott to manage the renovation and decoration. Being a New Orleans native, Scott leapt at the opportunity to refresh the historic interiors and create a modern, luxurious Big Easy retreat. She was not familiar with the Lalaurie House, so she looked for more information at a local bookstore, where she was directed to the section on haunted houses. “I wondered what I had gotten myself into,” she recalls. But the lavish mansion proved too alluring to pass up.
Built in the early 1800s, the Lalaurie House had survived scandal, neglect, and hauntings before actor Nicholas Cage bought it in 2007. When Scott set about giving the house a fresh new look, she took inspiration from the fun-loving yet grandly historic neighborhood. “We wanted to create a sexy, burlesque, French Quarter feel—rich in color with modern flourishes,” she says. New plaster, lacquered walls, and restored crown moldings contribute to a jazzy, upbeat scheme.