The wide range of colors in this Ashley Longshore painting made it easy to design around, says interior designer Cole Baker. The abstract work on the adjacent wall is by artist Meredith Pardue and was sourced through Ann Connelly Fine Art. The pink Oriental rug was the brainchild of Baker and his rug dealer in Houston; they bleached an existing rug and added pink dye to create a custom look without the long lead time. Photos by Chad Chenier

From traditional to anything but, the home of Mike and Lexie Polito is a study in going bold

When Lexie and Mike Polito stepped out of their New York City cab on a cold night in January of 2018, they were met with a rainbow. The window displays of Bergdorf Goodman that line iconic Fifth Avenue had been transformed, displaying the bright works of New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore. The couple, along with friends Katia Mangham and Kim Wampold as well as celebrities like Blake Lively and Christian Siriano, were there to celebrate the colorful collaboration between Longshore and the store, which marked the first of its kind for a solo female artist. 

“The opening party for Ashley’s installation at Bergdorf was where we found the Audrey Hepburn painting,” Lexie recalls of the large canvas that now hangs in her home’s main living area, just outside of the foyer. “It’s fun and it’s colorful—it’s what I look for in art, really. For me, art is something that should make you happy, and Ashley’s work does that.”

The blooming piece, which was the backdrop for a friendly photo-op between Longshore and Lively at the Bergdorf opening party, is just one of several Longshore works that hang throughout the Polito house, helping to establish the lighthearted yet luxe vibe that pervades. There’s Veuve Clicquot bottles on a pink backdrop, each bearing an important date for Mike and Lexie, and a Frank Sinatra commission over the formal living room fireplace which was a special request of Mike. They form centerpieces in the newly renovated spaces that have been completely reimagined at the hands of Bossier City-based interior designer Cole Baker over the last few years.

Since Lexie doesn’t like brown, a black stain was chosen for the home’s oak floors. Brass details on the floor of this formal living room give a luxe look in lieu of a rug, while a variation of textures in the upholstery brings warmth. A rainbow Meredith Pardue painting from Ann Connelly Fine Art hangs opposite the fireplace.

“When we were going through the process and interviewing different designers, Cole immediately got that I wanted glam and something totally different,” Lexie explains, “and he’s not afraid of color, which Mike and I love.”

“A lot of what Mike and Lexie wanted was what I personally love,” Baker says. “But I want my clients’ houses to look like them, not like me. Lexie is fun, vibrant and bubbly, and that’s what I wanted to convey with the design.”

Working with architect Mike Sullivan, the goal was to overhaul the traditional interior—with its exposed brick and cypress cabinets—and create something one of a kind, pulling inspiration from Art Deco and old Hollywood homes and hotels.

“We wanted this to be unlike anything else you typically see in Baton Rouge,” Baker notes. “And that meant going ultra-custom and thinking outside the box.”

Mike and Lexie Polito with daughter Arabella

Starting in the foyer, Baker, working alongside Stafford Tile & Stone, hand drew the tile pattern—which includes a unique pink marble that repeats in the master bathroom. In the adjacent formal living room, brass inlay in the black-stained oak floors forms an ultra-modern alternative to an area rug. And in the kitchen, custom-designed pink lacquered cabinets that Baker worked on with the help of Kris Kogel and his team at KrisBuilt pair perfectly with brass accents both on the front of the island and shelves, as well as surrounding the vent hood—a detail that Baker and Lexie both note wasn’t easy to accomplish but was ultimately worth it.

“The biggest challenge for this aesthetic is that it is so glam, but it still has to feel warm. You don’t want to feel like you’re walking into a hotel instead of someone’s home,” Baker explains. “You get that necessary warmth through a mixture of textures, a balancing of the shine.”

A good example of this, Baker notes, is the olive green chenille sectional in the living room. Open to the kitchen, the tone and fabric warm the entire space and give a dose of lived-in comfort, while also providing ample seating for both the family and their guests.

“Cole had to talk me into it, but it’s the most comfortable couch ever,” Lexie says. “It’s where we spend most of our time.”

While the light fixture was the first piece found for the dining room, the velvet fabric that covers the chairs was the jumping-off point for the color scheme. Set on a backdrop of lavender-grey, four Hunt Slonem paintings hand-selected by Lexie and Baker and sourced through the Martine Chaisson Gallery in New Orleans are the ideal finishing touch. The eye-catching floral arrangement here and the others throughout the home were created by Bryce Glover of The Bloom Room.

More green is proliferated throughout the living spaces to tie everything together, with a pair of green-hued velvet chairs across the room in the tucked-away sitting area, vintage emerald chandeliers in the butler’s pantry, as well as—much more boldly—on the ceiling of the dining room, which was painted a bright Kelly green.

“I didn’t think Lexie would go for the green in there,” Baker recalls, noting that Lexie had suggested green but not something quite so vivid. “I really had to work for that shade, but I think the result is stunning.”

And one might think that a grouping of Hunt Slonem paintings would steal the show but, in the case of this dining room, you would be wrong. Overhead, a Larose Guyon chandelier is more of a sculpture than it is a fixture.

“We designed the dining room from that light,” Lexie explains. “I saw it in a magazine while I was traveling and I knew it was perfect. It’s called the ‘Coco’ for Coco Chanel and her pearls. It’s like jewelry for a room.”

Lexie’s love for all things fashion is a theme that finds itself far beyond the reaches of her closet, materializing in nearly every detail, from the art on the walls, with themes from Sex and the City to Legally Blonde, to the glitter grout between the tiles in the butler’s pantry. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the closet itself would be something to talk about. 

“We’re not big cooks,” Lexie says with a laugh, noting that the kitchen’s eye-catching Moët & Chandon vending machine—ideal for entertaining—stands in the former place of the refrigerator. (A proper fridge is located across the room.) Baker added windows flanking the vent hood to bring in more natural light but placed custom-designed glass cabinets over them to display Lexie’s glassware rather than the view of the neighbor’s house. Over the island, gold pendants at staggering heights were sourced from Italy.

By taking in the third bay of the former three-car garage, Lexie was able to secure ample space for the clothing and shoes that she considers to be an extension of her art collection. On the walls, a shade of pink more bold than the muted notes used elsewhere throughout the house was chosen by Baker to a liven the tone for Lexie as she prepares for a day of activities with her daughter, Arabella, or a night on the town with Mike or her girlfriends.

“When they first painted the room, Lexie called me freaking out,” Baker recalls. “But everything changes once you put it all together.”

Finishing touches for the closet included a chic black-and-white striped Missoni carpet, as well as a statement wall covered in vintage Vogue covers. “Lexie originally sent me an image of a space that had old TIME magazine covers on the walls and asked me if we could do something similar but with fashion,” Baker says.

The pair ended up combing through the Vogue archive to select the individual covers that Lexie then had made into a one-of-a-kind wallpaper.

A bolder shade of pink was chosen for the closet because, as Baker says, “why not!” All of the built-ins were custom designs by Baker and KrisBuilt, with a ladder incorporated to move throughout the room.

“My closet is my happy place,” Lexie says.

But with the same aesthetic throughout the home, Lexie doesn’t have to spend all of her time in the depths of her closet to feel that same joy, and it’s a powerful testament to being unapologetic about expressing yourself and your personal style. From the touches of pink in every room to the Moët vending machine, the bold choices not only make the house totally unique, but they allow the home to speak for its owners, and for the owners to feel totally represented within their home.

“Our house is something that you can’t replicate,” Lexie says. “It’s 100 percent us.” 

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