Text: Courtney duQuesnay
Photos: Jeff Herr

Tucked away in the Bocage neighborhood of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one young family’s little slice of paradise. With three children and two dogs, the hometown couple knew they were outgrowing their former place.

And when it came time to make plans for a new build, the desire for a truly bespoke sanctuary away from the rigors of work and school inspired them to contact Montgomery, Alabama, architect David Baker of Tippett Sease Baker Architecture, whose work they’d admired in the homes of friends. “After taking a good look at the property and discussing the clients’ desire for respite, we carved out this idea of an inner courtyard,” says Baker.

Ashley Gilbreath and David Baker Design Family Focused Home in Baton Rouge

Ashley Gilbreath and David Baker Design Family Focused Home in Baton Rouge

Ashley Gilbreath and David Baker Design Family Focused Home in Baton Rouge

Ashley Gilbreath and David Baker Design Family Focused Home in Baton Rouge

Ashley Gilbreath and David Baker Design Family Focused Home in Baton Rouge

And from there, the design of the home, centered around togetherness, began to take shape. To help meet the family’s need for a personalized design that would stand the test of time, Baker turned to colleague Ashley Gilbreath, a Montgomery-based interior designer his firm had partnered with on several occasions before. Hailing from Baton Rouge, Gilbreath was familiar with local tastes and lifestyles and a perfect fit for the project. “With any new project, the goal is really to get to know the clients and make sure you understand their needs and vision for the space,” says Gilbreath. “They’re an outdoorsy family but still young and chic. They didn’t want their parents’ house; they wanted their own house. They didn’t want something overly traditional, and it had to be able to grow with them.”

The relaxed and welcoming vibe is felt immediately upon stepping through the front door of the home, where guests are greeted by a tranquil covered courtyard overlooking a sparkling pool. To the right, a cabana with a fireplace and outdoor kitchen creates a cozy gathering spot, perfect for entertaining all ages. To the left, a Dutch door provides a formal entry to the house, where the kitchen, dining, and living areas are blended to maximize family time.

Defining the individual spaces within an open concept area allows an interior designer’s skills to truly shine. Gilbreath explains, “The impactful elements became much more about texture and tone, rather than color and pattern. We did lots of neutrals, lots of whites and grays, tone on tone, and a little bit of black. And small, very intentional punches of color.”

Using rugs, seating, and sculptural elements, Gilbreath successfully carved the large area into distinct spaces, each with their own individual purpose. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in an abundance of cheerful light, while regionally reclaimed wooden beams add character to the 11-foot ceilings. Gilbreath’s team chose pretty but hardworking fabrics for the living areas to stand up to the use of the family’s three children and two dogs. “They love to do movie nights,” Gilbreath says. “So the living room is very cozy and centered around being able to hang out together around the fireplace or the TV.”

Form and function marry in the nearby kitchen, where a gently curving range hood separates the guest-facing island from the working kitchen. Fluted paneling cleverly disguises pantries and refrigerators for an overall seamless look. “My favorite things about the house are spaces, like the working kitchen, that really allow a family to function well,” says Baker. “Part of the success of this house is there’s a lot of volume with the 11-foot ceilings, but there are apologetic spaces that help to transition from one room to the next. The entire house is set up with windows, views, and axes that pull you from one space to the next.”

The working pantry allows for out-of-sight prep and cleanup when entertaining guests. On-trend fluted cabinetry beautifully disguises the refrigerator and pantry, while durable Peacock Pavers provide an excellent flooring option for a busy family.

With each room touching or witnessing the interior courtyard, the “heart of the home,” that is, the restful atmosphere the creative team aimed to achieve is apparent from every corner. “The idea is to be the hands, the steward, and the protector of our clients. Applying what’s appropriate for each property and each client,” says Baker. “And I think we achieved that here.”

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