We recently attended the inaugural Southern Style Now Festival in New Orleans, and the absolute highlight was Traditional Home magazine’s showhouse, a Queen Anne Victorian mansion located in the Uptown District on St. Charles Avenue. Aptly described by Curbed New Orleans as a “veritable funhouse for design lovers,” the showhouse is a spectacular homage to the region’s rich and colorful cultural traditions.
More than 25 local and national designers, all originally from the south, were invited to lend their contemporary vision to this uniquely southern-style house, and we were excited to have the opportunity to work with some of them by providing furniture and decor. One of those designers is Brian Patrick Flynn of Atlanta, who designed a grand bedroom suite. Below, we talked to him about the project.
Ballard Designs: Tell us about the room you were assigned and how you envisioned a homeowner using this space.
Brian Patrick Flynn: I was assigned bedroom number two, but due to the size and proportions of the space, I saw it more useable as a second floor lounge to kick back and read or enjoy company privately upstairs away from the common areas. It has two super tall windows and gets amazing natural light, plus it has a fireplace, so I wanted it to be more of a hangout.
BD: This project was about reinterpreting traditional southern design through a modern lens. How did you go about that while adding your own unique stamp?
BPF: Overall, I tend to use a lot of color and modern lines in my work, but a lot of New Orleans homes are draped in French traditional lines and use lots of soft neutral tones mixed with furnishings that are often feminine in style. I stuck with neutrals for the most part, using a greige grasscloth on the walls, brown leather on the sofa, white accents and lots of navy blue upholstery. To add a quirkiness and tons of Southern flair, I commissioned Louisiana-centric art from artist Celery Jones and created a gallery wall with subjects ranging from pralines and music legends to fried chicken pop art and photography of bayou alligators.
BD: How much did the host city influence your design? How did you incorporate the distinct charms of New Orleans?
BPF: The host city largely influenced the design, especially with all of its European character. I used a lot of European lines including the antique white chairs with the blue and white striped upholstery, the Spanish-inspired carved wooden tables, dainty burlap covered end table and then added a masculine touch with navy and dark brown accents. The distinct charm of New Orleans can be seen in the space plan. I laid the room out for long hours of conversation and cocktails, complete with four separate occasional tables for guest to gather their drinks on or simply use for impromptu late night guests.
BD: What are the hallmarks of every southern house that you felt compelled to include?
BPF: I feel like every southern house has heirlooms handed down from family members. So to highlight all of the European inspired pieces from Ballard, I brought in some local antiques from sources in the Bywater neighborhood and also had some unique art made, which looks like mom and dad portraits, but instead of people, they’re of crawfish. Wow, that sounds really weird!
BD: How did Ballard fit into your vision for your space?
BPF: Ballard was my first choice because of its European flair with traditional spins. There’s a massive French influence in New Orleans, and I stuck with French lines (also some English lines) on my seating and then also chose some of Bunny Williams for Ballard to accessorize it all with classic edge.
BD: Was there a particular Ballard item that surprised you in some way or that you fell in love with?
BPF: The Spencer Leather Sofa is definitely my new favorite item from Ballard. It’s so classic and also generously proportioned without taking over a space or valuable square footage. And even though it comes in leather, it would also look great in a wide variety of solids and prints.
BD: Was there anything you learned with this project as a designer that might influence your next project?
BPF: I learned to like using neutrals a bit more. If you have a strong accent color that’s still in the neutral family — navy blue in this case — and stay away from creams that have yellow undertones, the overall look can still be considered somewhat colorful but in a less-is-more, never-gets-old manner.
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