The family’s formal living room is a showcase of collected art from celebrated Louisiana artists. A George Dunbar piece commissioned as the focal point sits above the fireplace, flanked on both sides by works from Nicole Charbonnet. Modern and antique upholstered pieces live seamlessly together, anchored by custom drapes with hand embroidered trim by Michael Savoia and a sculptural rug by Carol Piper. Photos by Max Kim-Bee

A designer and homeowner create a home inspired by the best of New Orleans in Baton Rouge

Light pours through the large panes of the steel and glass windows in the kitchen and casts its rays on the sitting room sofa where two King Charles Spaniels, Maddie and Mason, bask in its glow. Beyond is a quintessential scene: morning sun glinting off the pool water and blue stone surround, extending the vision to the vibrant green lawn and landscape, definitively designed and meticulously maintained. It is a cup-of-coffee-in-the-hand kind of morning, with the outside temps still cool enough to sit on the back porch and enjoy the spring breeze.

“Now this,” says Colleen Waguespack, of Colleen Waguespack Interiors, looking around. “This lawn and this light, we couldn’t get in New Orleans.” Homeowner Alayna Smith agrees, and the duo discusses the limited lot space which impedes natural light reaching into the yards and homes of their hometown.

New Orleans. The city where both Colleen and Alayna spent their childhood years. The city that procured dreams of grand dames living in Greek Revival-style homes, chocked full of history and collections, on the rim of Audubon Park just a short walk down St. Charles Avenue. One day, maybe, the young girls thought. One day I want that dream to become my reality.

The family spends most of their time in the kitchen and everyday living room, enjoying the light and views of the expansive grounds and pool just outside. The architects and designer decided only this custom window, fabricated by Chateau Domingue in Houston, along with the steel and glass front door would create the uniquely classic and modern feel of this home.

“As soon as I started talking to Colleen about what I wanted in a home, she completely understood,” Alayna recalls of that fateful meeting 16 years ago when both their sons entered the same first grade class. Alayna and her husband Jason had just returned to Louisiana after six years out of state. “Although we moved to Baton Rouge, I wanted to fill my house with New Orleans. I wanted antiques from Magazine Street. I wanted art from Julia Street. Colleen understood my vision.”

And Alayna’s vision was laser-focused on the future. At the time, she was living in a home off Highland Road with Jason and their two young sons, but she knew that they wouldn’t be in that house forever. Starting with a blank slate and an eye for design, she was determined to fill the house with investment pieces—furniture and furnishings that would stand the test of time. Pieces that could go wherever they moved. And pieces that would reflect where she grew up.

“The thing about New Orleans is, it is such an artistic and cultural melting pot,” Colleen says. “The idea that it’s a new concept to mix antiques with modern art is completely wrong—families in New Orleans have been doing that for generations. Strong architecture mixed with passed-down antiques mixed with amazing art is what we were exposed to growing up.”

Holland & Sherry printed grasscloth wallpaper reaches to the lacquered ceiling in the formal dining room. Like many, after completing the home design, the client was less enamored with her fine china set than when she got married, so a recent Goop for CB2 collaboration made for the perfect high/low addition to this room.

With the same vision in mind, the duo often dropped their kids off at school, jumped in a vehicle together and headed down to New Orleans for buying trips before returning to the carpool line in the afternoon. They picked up fine furniture, rugs, lighting and more. All the while, Alayna and Jason kept their eyes peeled for the perfect property to build upon. Alayna envisioned the European-inspired house she wanted to design, and Jason wanted enough land for privacy that would still be within easy access to all the city has to offer. They found what they wanted on almost two acres of land in the Meadowlea area.

“Jason looked forward to an oasis he could come home to after a long day,” Alayna says of her husband, an orthopedic surgeon. “And I looked forward to putting all my inspirational Pinterest board images to good use to create a timeless home for our family.”

By the time construction started in 2017, Alayna and Colleen had already decided on most of the significant design choices. They worked closely with Hoffpauir Studio Architecture who designed the home and Bernhard Normand Construction who built it. While Alayna knew she wanted a view from the front door to the back of the house with a gallery running the length of it, she left the layout to the professionals.

A pair of antique demilunes sit beneath Meredith Pardue paintings hanging above. Inspired by an original smaller work by Meredith the client already owned, they commissioned this pair based on the original.

“What was great about Alayna is that she told them how she wanted each room to function and the style she wanted to live in. She didn’t sketch something out on a napkin,” Colleen says. “We were able to make her desires a reality in ways that she might not have thought of on her own.”

The European-inspired exterior of the home opens to gracious interiors infused with light and views from every angle. Here, every piece from Alayna and Jason’s previous house found a home because they were carefully selected with the future in mind. And with children now older and more self-sufficient, Alayna and Colleen were able to travel to Dallas, Houston and New York on buying trips to supplement the provisions procured from their beloved New Orleans. The result is exactly what they envisioned: architecture that supports a thoughtful collection of antique and modern furniture, as well as antique and modern art.

“In the 16 years that Alayna and I worked together, we grew up,” Colleen says. “We raised our kids together. Our tastes evolved. And we gained an appreciation for the architecture and floor plans of a Baton Rouge home that you do not get in a very vertical New Orleans house.”

The clean and serene primary bathroom is completed by the large window and statement bathtub placed right in front. A natural wood side table grounds the space.

The journey together through the childhood years, and the collecting years, and the planning years ultimately culminated with the creation of a timeless home crafted with thoughtful design and furnishings teeming with personal stories. The women met at a first-grade classroom party and became conspirators, collaborators and confidants while on the winding journey of establishing an inspired family home and lifestyle.

“I loved the process because I worked with a really good friend,” Alayna says. “I truly trusted Colleen. I trusted that she knew what she was talking about when I wasn’t sure, and I’m so glad I did. Jason and I come home to this space and we feel like we are on a vacation every day.”

See more from this home in the gallery below: