Designer tip: Rivers Spencer on mixing modern and classic

Photo by Paul Costello

Some things just go together like peanut butter and jelly–and some don’t. Well, not without a little finessing and an expert touch. For example, filling a timeless south Louisiana home designed by architect A. Hays Town with cool contemporary furnishings could seem like a recipe for disaster. All those rich organic materials practically beg for equally warm wood furnishings and a very particular paint palette.

But as New Orleans-based designer Rivers Spencer proved in a recent project on Baton Rouge’s Fairway Drive, there is in fact an art to updating an A. Hays Town house for the 21st century while holding onto that classic charm.

“Antiques help temper a modern look in a house like this,” Spencer reflects. “I like to blend really old pieces with clean-lined contemporary pieces. It helps to give each space a more layered look.”

By making sure to incorporate centuries-old finds like authentic Trumeau mirrors and vintage end tables rescued in France alongside things like Lucite-legged benches and Kelly Wearstler fabrics, Spencer refused to let this home get stuck in a single time period. Tackling the design process in this way is more fun for the client, too. “Rivers would text me photos and say things like, ‘I’m in France–do you like these?'” recalls homeowner Lauren Perry. “It was so much fun to see how she tied it all together.”


Need some decorating advice? Let us know what rooms or problem spots you need help with in the comments below, and we’ll ask local designers to share their advice in upcoming editions of this newsletter. In the meantime, read more about this home in this story from inRegister’s July issue. 

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