Inside a New Orleans Designer’s Colorful Home – Garden & Gun


Original built-in bookcases in the boudoir.

In her Uptown boutique, Eclectic Home, New Orleans designer Penny Francis has built a wonderland for decorators, where shoppers can stroll between ivory bouclé swivel chairs, pink tempered glass side tables poppy and Moorish thrones chairs from Syria. The showroom reflects his design philosophy: a riot of color moderated by a restraining ribbon that renders harmony rather than chaos; a nearly impossible-to-reproduce stew of styles that sparks conversation and has been attracting the city’s bold tastemakers for twenty-two years. “Of course, everyone loves a big, heavy European antique, but I also wanted mid-century modern art deco coffee tables and sconces,” she says. Above the boutique, Francis’ firm guides clients through projects ranging from French Quarter residences to brand new Four Seasons residences.

The shop also serves as a laboratory for her own ever-evolving home, where you’re likely to find her moving a sofa as well as throwing a party. “New Orleans has been my home since I was eight,” Francis says as she sits in her kitchen on a high-backed dove-gray velvet chair. Neighboring patio doors let in the afternoon light, which streams through a wide porch and an electric blue pool beyond.


From left to right: the entrance filled with artwork by Penny Francis; antique silver and brass tea canisters.

“My husband is an avid hunter and gardener. He wanted a garden and a garage,” she says. “I laughed. There are no garages in Uptown, but he bet me a thousand dollars he could find one. In 2012, Francis lost that bet when they ran into double five thousand square feet of 101 years one block from Audubon Park. Inside, however, awaited a challenge worthy of a designer: an interior stalled in the eighties, burdened by lowered ceilings and wing walls in the kitchen.

“So many pieces were cut off from others and made you backtrack,” she says. “That first look, I thought, which project.” A year of renovations has resulted in a three-bedroom, five-bathroom home with a pleasant flow and luxury additions such as a gym and small home theater.


From left to right: the front door; Francis and his dog Cody on the back porch.

However, there were a few historic touches that touched Francis’ heart, including the towering floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room, which she kept and countered with a moment of mid-century romance: a lavender Italian velvet sofa. She repeated this color in Gustavian-style chairs adorned with Kravet velvet in the dining room and grasscloth wallpapers by Phillip Jeffries and Schumacher throughout the house. Her living room, anchored by a 1930s-inspired Arteriors chandelier, oozes contradiction. “I think there’s really fun in intentionally mixing materials,” she says, smiling at a 1970s coffee table with Lucite legs. Six-foot Italian lamps with chrome bases and towering shades flank a stunning black lacquered glass console with silver hardware.

A lesser talent might opt ​​for bold art Where bold furniture, but Francis knows no fear. “This one is special,” she says of Mississippi artist Kennith Humphrey. The first date, an abstract nude she’s had for decades, now hanging on her living room wall. It juxtaposes Francis’ favorite lilac hue with intense bands of red and black. “During Katrina the water came in just below the frame, but we were able to repair the damage.”


From left to right: the living room; a guest bedroom upstairs; an abstract portrait by local painter Gavin Jones.

Every room in the house has meaning for Francis, whether it’s the Depression-era decanters he inherited from his grandfather in the dining room or photographer Clifton Henri’s image of a young boy standing on bicycle tire in powder closet. A painting by Frederick Brown in the style of Jackson Pollock dominates his cozy lair, the family’s favorite haunt, where dark blue walls and quirky built-in bookshelves evoke an admiral’s cabin on a ship. The ceiling catches the eye with another grasscloth paper, this one imitating denim.


From left to right: the main bathroom; a peek into the den.

The decoration upstairs is even more personal. Francis and her husband have remodeled the landing into an office space, removed a bedroom to create a dreamy spa-style bathroom and walk-in closet, and adorned the walls with artwork by their daughters, both Savannah College of Art graduates. and Design. .

On the way down, Francis stops on the stairs and points to a sepia-toned photograph of a low-rise building. “I’ve been a fan of New Orleans photographer Lee Crum for a long time,” she says. “I found this picture of an old juke joint called Little Rumboogie. My dad used to to like go.” Francis bought it as a Father’s Day present, but her father died before she could give it to him.

“He loved telling stories about those old bars in New Orleans back then. It’s a tribute now,” she said. “Although it’s almost difficult to have it hung here, I think art and design should do it. It should make you feel something so deeply.


From left to right: the breakfast nook; Francis’ rear pool, flanked by planters.

Luz W. German