Today’s Tasteful Take on a Historic House

Historical renovation is something I am passionate about because of my love for the architectural features. In my “About Me” section. I referenced almost buying a beautiful, historic house named Elway Hall, but it was just too far away from my office and I would have spent a minimum of 3 hours in the car a day. Two interior designers ended up buying the house that I had to begrudgingly pass on; it seems that interior designers frequently take the challenge of older homes head on without thinking twice.

House Beautiful profiled one such designer…

Take for example, Interior designer Ty Larkins, who grew up in New Orleans where he attained his love for old houses, classic and elegant architecture and antiques. In a recent interview, he spoke of how his style has changed through the years from antiques only to what he called ” young, fresh” or “hip-traditional and the renovation and interior design of his historic Baton Rouge house. I really relate to that.

(As I’ve aged, my taste has evolved from very traditional – with just a love for antiques – to a longing for cleaner, more modern lines to intermingle with my current furnishings. Years ago, I wouldn’t have paid much attention to a modern aesthetic because I thought it emitted a certain coldness. I just hadn’t seen it often nor done well.)

He also offered great advice: if doing a color, do it in a room that is not a primary room that you are in often. This is why the one room in his house that he opted for color is his dining room. He said of the dining room, “When I first did it, it was all classic antiques. But after a while, I thought: This is boring. It sort of had this Granny’s-house air about it. We’re a young family. Why not do something that represents the people who live here? So I put toile slipcovers on modern chairs and paired them with a French country dining table. The chandelier is new, although you can’t tell by looking at it that it’s not some crusty old French chandelier.”

His living room, swathed in neutrals, houses his favorite object: a 17th-century Italian chandelier. “It’s probably the only piece I wouldn’t part with because it’s so rare, and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

He prefers a neutral palette. He explained that it allows you to change the look of a room, to inject a little bit of fashion — new throw pillows, a funky lamp — without blowing the budget. “It gives you a timeless foundation. No, I hate to use the word ‘timeless.’ I don’t know if there is such a thing. Let’s just say it has longevity.”

He even kept it neutral outside which looks very elegant.

Fig ivy accentuates the courtyard’s garden walls.

Which room gets the most traffic? The kitchen. It’s family central, where everything happens. The marble island’s got pen marks, but it’s nothing that a little stone cleaner can’t handle. Getting back to the theme of separate rooms — I like a kitchen to be private and intimate. You lose that when it opens onto other spaces.

Where have you splurged? There are probably more splurges here than stingies. The dining room chandelier was certainly a splurge. I’m not rich, by any stretch of the imagination. I buy slowly, a piece at a time, but I buy the best I can afford. One of my favorite quotes is from Miles Redd: ‘Buy the best and you only cry once.’ There’s another one I like: ‘Quality is long remembered after price has been forgotten.’ That’s one to live by.

But the really important thing that I tell people is to buy what you like, first of all. You’ll find when you buy what you like, there’s a consistency. Those things will usually just go together, seamlessly.

You’re a former lawyer with a sexy, non-lawyer kind of library. Libraries are cozy rooms that people don’t do anymore. They do home offices now, which are very utilitarian. But the whole notion of a room with built-in bookshelves and deep, rich color…I wish it would come back.

Where have you spent moderately? One of my favorite things is a Parsons desk from West Elm because it’s so honest about what it is. That’s when inexpensive pieces work best — when they’re not pretending to be something else.

Ty’s master bedroom
Thomas O’Brien towels from Target (which I have a few myself and they are very, very soft!) adorn his travertine bathroom.
The outside of this neoclassical town house looks deceptively pedestrian on the outside.
The portico with drapes and shades of white and cream. I just ADORE whites/creams used outside; they are so versatile because you can dress them up or down and morph into any feel!
Just a thought, but the painter’s canvas drop cloths that are sold at home improvement stores could easily be converted into outdoor drapes for a song!
Here’s what you need:
  • Tension rods
  • Grommets ($3-4 for a pack of 12)
  • Grommet tool ($7 or better if you look around)
  • Canvas (5’x9′ for $11)

Then hem them to desired length by sewing or fusing with fusing tape. If you like, you could also paint, stamp or adorn them as you like 🙂

I hope you enjoyed looking at what Ty Larkins did with his home and found his advice useful 🙂 Have a great day!!

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