New Orleans has its own design style that’s distinct both from its southern surroundings and from what you’ll find in any other American city. With its unique fusion of Caribbean, Spanish, English, African, and French cultures, New Orleans style draws from influences that give it a strong sense of place. Like jazz and Louisiana cooking, the prevailing design aesthetic is vivid, relying on clever improvisation to give timeless classics new life. Forget about sedate neutrals and static symmetry; a New Orleans penthouse needs some life to it.
Take a walk down any French Quarter street or go for a drive in the Garden District, and you’ll notice something about the homes there. Locals have had an irrepressible love of color ever since the city’s earliest days, and you’ll see some surprising combinations that can inspire your penthouse design plans. Pastels tend to be vibrant rather than mild, and accent colors are plentiful. The same home might have walls one hue, shutters in another color and gingerbread trim in a third. Looking around at the native flora and fauna can also give you ideas. Think about incorporating the vivid pink of crepe myrtle flowers and the dark green of City Park’s live oak trees into your penthouse décor.
The Crescent City is a study in contrasts when it comes to time periods too. Older than most cities in the country, it still retains a strong sense of its history, and you’ll see that reflected in its eclectic take on interior design. Forget about sticking to a single time period when decorating; New Orleans style demands a careful and creative curation of looks that span centuries. Go ahead and hang that ornate Art Nouveau mirror from a Royal Street antique shop over your mid-century modern credenza. Flank a thoroughly modern minimalist sofa with a pair of rococo vases. The trick to harmonizing time periods is in finding other unifying design elements. Let colors, shapes and textures call to one another across decades and mix your eras fearlessly.
The Birthplace of Shabby Chic
New Orleanians have a deeply rooted sense of place and a romantic sensibility that finds its way into home décor ideas. They love that patchy old quilt or chipped piece of Newcomb pottery as a family heirloom, and they don’t hide these cherished pieces of history but display them proudly. The overall effect is a comfortably lived-in look that manages to retain a certain elegance thanks to careful placement and juxtaposition. In many New Orleans homes, time has worn walls and floors in unique ways; these signs of age aren’t flaws but marks of distinction. Incorporating antique furniture that has seen generations of use, displaying well-read old books and bringing in antique lighting are a few ways to bring that Vieux Carre charm into a newly luxurious New Orleans penthouse.
Interested in more content like this? Check out NOLA’s Architectural History; A Blueprint For Its Future