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Garden Vieux

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Home
Jan 26th, 2014

BayouHome jan14

Garden Vieux
The Home of Susan and Brian Crawford
article by Maré Brennan | photography by Joli Livaudais

From behind a stucco and brick capped wall and through a wrought iron gate with a distinctly New Orleans feel, a fountain gurgles and beckons visitors to slip into the French Quarter-inspired courtyard gardens that envelope the home of Susan and Brian Crawford, tucked on a quiet cul de sac in North Monroe.

Designed as a double gallery house, like those made famous in James Michalopolous’ paintings of New Orleans Garden District beauties, the Crawford’s home is a variation of the American townhouse that was popular in the Crescent City between 1820 and 1850.  Master builder Joe Holyfield was enlisted by the original owners, Terri Kay and Dave Luffey, for construction of their home, which was one of the first within Point Place subdivision. Around ten year ago, the Luffeys once again called on Holyfield to add a sunroom onto the back of the home which improved the home’s flow.

In the summer of 2012, the Crawfords made the house their place to nest while in Monroe. As most homeowners know, there is nothing like having a party in order to get your house in top shape. After moving into the home in July and a month away spent at their North Carolina home, the homeowners kicked it in to high gear to get ready for a party to celebrate a friend’s wedding. Crawford’s upholsterer was making frequent trips, dropping off a newly upholstered sofa one week and valances the next. All the while, Susan worked with her good friend and designer Gregory Hudgins to determine the optimum furniture placement. In the spring of 2013, the Crawford’s home was featured on the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum’s Home and Garden Tour.

As the home is set slightly back from the street, a brick walkway in a basket weave pattern leads to the lower gallery and the front door, which is illuminated by a large gas lantern. Creating a graceful transition from the street to the home, manicured yaupon hollies and colorful perennials fill articulated beds. An intricate wrought iron railing, crafted by Kelly Ironworks after examples found in New Orleans, embellishes the second story gallery.

Combining old and new, high and low is a recurring theme at the Crawfords’ home due to Susan’s eclectic and resourceful nature. In the foyer, Susan has placed a dainty French chair reupholstered in a beautiful soft green silk with a modern metallic pattern at the foot of the staircase leading to the second floor. Opening into the foyer is the dramatic dining room. Oak hardwood flooring is covered by a room sized Persian rug in bold hues of red and navy. Distressed French sconces, found at Scott Antique Market in Atlanta, add light to either side of a custom designed Trumeau mirror above an antiqued console. When faced with finding a Trumeau mirror, Susan recalls exorbitant price tags, so she and designer Richard Carroll came up with a solution – they would just make one! Susan found a lovely French scene painting and Richard put the mirror together, complete with gilded accents. Susan mixes new linen covered chairs from Restoration Hardware with the antique table from Natchez which had been her husband’s law office conference table. The buffet and window treatments with deep swags and fringe were original to the home.

The living room is painted a light grey with green undertones, adding light to this interior room. A focal feature is a baby grand player piano, which Susan employs for music throughout the year. “My grandson loves it when he comes to visit,” she explains.  A tall grandfather clock, a gift from her husband Brian, stands watch beside the fireplace mantle. A comfortable seating group with a federal style sofa covered in a creamy silk is artfully arranged. Sconces flank a neoclassical gilt mirror which hangs above a demilune console.

The sunroom lives up to its billing with bright cheery walls lit naturally from the extra large windows that look out onto the back gardens. A contemporary stained glass window by Baton Rouge artist Charles Devillier, originally commissioned by the couple for their home on Jasmine, has made several moves and now resides in a perfect spot to send beams of color across the room’s hardwood floors. An Oriental screen the Crawfords found on a trip to New York City finds its place above a toile covered banquette. A trio of nesting tables beside the sofa are family heirlooms from Susan’s mother. A pair of French bergere chairs got a total makeover by Richard Carroll who painted and distressed the once-dark wood and are now covered in a light toile. A built-in entertainment center maintains order for electronics. A spiral staircase leads to the upstairs office loft space, which also doubles as an extra sleeping quarters when family comes to town.

The thoughtfully planned out kitchen makes great use of space with ample countertops of black granite and plentiful storage throughout. Glass pendant lighting hangs above the sink and gas range for task illumination. Leather covered counter stools fit neatly under the peninsula island. A leaded and stained glass window made by Liz Ormes found a new home above the double sink. Says Susan, “Liz made this window when I was president of the [Monroe Junior] League, and she was the president-elect.”

Just past the kitchen is a cozy keeping room with several unique pieces of furniture. An antique oak phone booth is definitely a conversation starter, says Susan. “It was in the Federal Building on Breard where Brian had an office. When he moved to a new office, it went with him. Now our grandkids like to play in it,” she laughs. Just to the right of the phone booth is one of Susan’s masterful paintings of her dogs, a Westie and Toto, her Norwich Terrier. Susan’s painting of her daughter’s King Charles Cavalier Spaniel lies just around the corner in a half bath. Explains Susan, “I paint while at our home in Cashiers, [North Carolina], usually with a good friend and neighbor who has a room below her house where we’ll have art classes and paint.” A leather sofa and upholstered club chair create an intimate seating arrangement in front of a cool, collapsible coffee table on wheels that was another find from Scott Antique fleamarket in Atlanta. Susan shows her creativity in finding serious uses for unique objects. Case in point: When Susan discovered a unique, antique bobbin advertisement, it became a statement-making lamp.

Just beyond is the breakfast room where a Welsh dresser, an Antique Alley find from Hilda Nancy Perkins’ store, is filled with majolica. Antlers and Staffordshire plates create a lovely vignette above the dresser. The “cute and feminine” French ladderback chairs are a favorite of the homeowner and were purchased from Ramona Caldwell after one of her trips to Europe.

In the master bedroom a Federal style four-poster bed commands attention beneath a series of botanical prints. A Bayonne caned settee is placed at the foot of the bed, which is accented a green mattelase coverlet with botanical-inspired fabric-covered pillows and a tailored dust ruffle with a green vine embroidered hem. The botanical-inspired toile which unifies the room is also employed on a pair of wingback chairs, as well as the cushion for the settee and the room’s drapery.

The guest bedrooms are a treat and retreat for the Crawford’s friends and family. A comfortable tufted ottoman and a crib make travel easy on those with little ones. While a second bedroom features a linen upholstered headboard with nailhead trim and a floral print mattelase coverlet. Swing arm sconces provide task lighting for bedtime stories with grandchildren.

Outside, the gardens are lush and filled with fragrant herbs, exquisite topiaried forms, clipped boxwoods and sculptural elements, including statuary and fountains. An outdoor fireplace provides a gathering spot for cool nights. Brick pathways wind their way to secluded seating areas. Initial planning for the gardens was done by Ron Brubaker for Terri Kay Luffey.

Although the Blue Ridge Mountains may have a special allure the Crawfords, there is nothing quite like their piece of Louisiana, right here at home.