Text and Styling: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photography: Sara Essex Bradley
Design inspiration can be discovered in a plethora of places. Sometimes it comes from the timelessness and familiarity of a storied historic home, while other times it is derived from the essence of an exotic destination. But architectural designer Matthew Voelkel did not have to travel back in time or to a far-flung locale to source inspiration for his clients’ new home in Old Mandeville. He found it, quite literally, in their own backyard.
“The property is located directly across from Lake Pontchartrain and is anchored by three massive 250-year-old live oaks,” says Voelkel, founder and principal of StudioMV. “The setting naturally called for a style that is quintessentially Southern, so the driving force behind the design became the site plan.”
Bound by wide, deep porches across the front and back, the center hall structure speaks in Louisiana’s distinct architectural vernacular while casement windows and French doors with graceful brow arches whisper a subtle French accent. Inside, Voelkel commissioned custom-milled moldings, baseboards, and raised paneling to instantly age the interiors. He sourced “real deal” elements, including antique pine beams, cypress doors, and European white oak flooring, for patina and authenticity as well as to connect the formal and informal living areas.
“We have the best of both worlds,” says homeowner Jennifer Boudreaux. “We have the old-fashioned charm and character of a historic house, plus the modern appointments and conveniences that our active family needs. I love the traditional separate spaces and the anticipation that builds as you move between the formal rooms in the front of the house and the informal rooms in the back. The flow keeps you guessing what is next to come! At the same time, I love the contemporary open-concept kitchen and great room and the relaxed atmosphere it creates for everyday events and casual entertaining.”
It is not only the continuous use of materials that fosters cohesion throughout the main living areas but also the repetitious use of color. Shades of green run the gamut from leaf to moss as they play off the views of the canopy formed by the towering oak and magnolia trees. Hints of yellow, pink, and burnt orange are also threaded through the design to mimic the sunsets. Even the textures nod to Mother Nature. Design associate Ellie Voelkel selected high-gloss paints for paneled walls, polished stone for countertops, and a host of acrylic, lacquered, and metallic accents for their reflective qualities and the way they mirror the lake’s placid waters. Nubby grasscloth wallcoverings and Belgian linen drapes layered with rich wool rugs and cotton-velvet upholstery temper the sleek surfaces and radiate warmth throughout spacious rooms with soaring 12-foot ceilings.
“Balance is everything,” Voelkel says. “The architectural and decorative elements are properly proportioned—nothing is too big or small, too heavy or light, too maximal or minimal. The home’s versatility makes it inviting and welcoming for everyone on every occasion—whether simply relaxing on rocking chairs overlooking the water or hosting an elegant dinner party.”