This Historic New Orleans Home Is a Colorful Masterpiece

A Lodestar Named Desire.

August 3, 2021
New Orleans-based designer and shop owner Ware Porter opened up his doors to Frederic for an exclusive tour of the kaleidoscopic and utterly magical 1924 Colonial Revival he and his partner call home.
By New Orleans standards, she was in her salad days: born practically yesterday, in 1924. And until this Uptown neighborhood grande dame was purchased by designer Ware M. Porter and his partner, Jordi Land, she was the refuge of just one family. “The house had never sold before,” says Porter of the Colonial Revival. “The man who built it ended up giving it to his daughter, who raised her only daughter there. The daughter went off to college, moved back to New Orleans and took over the house, so it never changed hands until we bought it.”
Relaxed Roman shades in Quadrille silk with a bullion fringe supply an instant aura of sumptuousness. “I wanted it to feel clubby—not necessarily clubby, but I wanted people to stay late,” Porter says. “In the wintertime, we would have big roaring fires and everybody sat until the wee hours of the morning.”Paul Costello
After the home had cast her spell on them, the duo spent three months bringing her up to date for their own family traditions. Out went the service-oriented kitchen (and its formica countertops and linoleum floors). “We’re entertainers, and we needed a lot of counter space and updated appliances,” Porter says. “The kitchen had to be completely redone.” When they moved in, every single wall in the house was painted entirely in one hue, and it wasn’t a blah beige. “I don’t know the exact color, but it was almost a Tiffany blue. We ended up going from one paint color to 26. It was a kaleidoscope of color!”
A mix of soapstone counters and a marble-topped island allow for plenty of work surface variety in the cookspace. Quadrille fabric curtains supply needed privacy, while the curtained cabinets on either side of the range hood in a wool by Holland & Sherry had an equally utilitarian purpose: “So you couldn’t see my junk,” Porter says. Spinning stools have the same plump, cushy feel as those you’ll find at roadside diners.Paul Costello
Take that living room: where the ceiling gleams a whisper lighter than the wall, in Hollandlac lacquer by Fine Paints of Europe (matched to Farrow & Ball’s Cooking Apple Green). “That house had 12 foot ceilings on the first floor, which is low for New Orleans. I wanted the light to reflect up there to push that ceiling up.” The hue itself took its cues from the adjacent dining room, with wallpaper from Paul Montgomery. “I wanted every room to stand on its own, but also have a common thread throughout the house.” Key for Porter: a dark, heavy, and formal yet whimsical feel. “Our go-to entertaining [format] is a dinner party, so with my friend group and being in New Orleans, I wanted it a little bit lush and naughty. Too much food, too much drink, stay late…”
An antique portrait of unknown provenance presides over a guest room. “I need to create a story about him,” Porter jokes. Plug in wall sconces by Hudson Valley Lighting cast a similarly throwback note, and echo the gilt frame on the painting.Paul Costello
A plaster relief art piece from Bunny Williams provides reprieve from the aesthetic debauchery; Porter selected it for its unfettered expanse of clean white space. “Just to juxtapose feels a little modern,” the designers says. “I was actually going to put an anti-glaze on it, and I kept looking at this perfectly white square that had a lot of depth and dimension to it when you’re in the room, and I didn’t do it. I just let it go as it was.”
One guest room’s eggplant walls create a warm, regal respite that serves to show off the 19th century Louisiana bed they unearthed at New Orleans’ Neal Auction Company then canopied in a Tillett Textiles stripe. “[The wall color] was my better half, Jordy’s, idea—he wanted a purple room,” Porter says. “New Orleans is kind of like the Caribbean or San Francisco in that way where you can just really go crazy with color here and people don’t look at you like you have 20 heads. I mean, we call it the Northernmost Caribbean island.”
In the couple’s bedroom, a ticking-esque wallpaper by Jane Churchill for Colefax and Fowler juxtaposes against a graphic hand-loomed wool carpet from NOLA Rugs. “All the rules are meant to be broken,” Porter says. The iron bed was designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber, dressed in an unfurled susani and throw pillows by Madeline Weinrib. One of Porter’s favorite possessions: the George III scooped up at London’s Guinevere. “I should have bought a new car instead, but I’ll always have that mirror.”Paul Costello

In the kitchen, Porter counted Cape Cod among his inspirations. Despite her new appliances and surfaces, this cookspace summons 1920s New England, thanks in part to a candy cane palette with vermilion red and creamy whites—almost in defiance of the overly employed white-on-white trend proliferating today. “I absolutely adored that combination of color in that room,” says Porter, who recently sold this home after the couple fell in love with an 1864 Greek Revival property. “People didn’t know how to read the walls—whether they were cream or white. Sometimes the light would read white. Sometimes it would read ‘cream.’” Here, that and a handful of their other rooms that define party-ready. We’ll RSVP yes.