Louisiana Flavors: Reviving a building in Eunice
In the historic downtown main street of Eunice, a couple purchased a two-story brick circa 1910 department store and transformed it into a multi-use facility that includes a medical center and apartments. In the process of leasing the units out, they decided to live in one of the apartments, and moved in last October.
Both involved with downtown businesses, one of the owners is the proprietor of a restaurant a block away from the apartment, and the other runs a seafood processing plant nearby. “It was perfect for them to move into town,” says Charles Seale, ASID, the award-winning owner of Charles Seale Designs in Eunice.
“We have live theater, a national park, the library is on the corner, there are banks, restaurants, churches, drug stores, and the post office is a block away. It makes perfect sense for people with empty nests to come to these downtown areas.”
Seale orchestrated the interior design for the couple’s 1,500-square-foot apartment. “They love the New Orleans look,” Seale says. “They wanted it to be a Louisiana theme. As a designer, if someone is asking for a Louisiana theme, you have to consider such things as hand-painted wall paper, wrought iron, antique lighting fixtures, and hardwood floors. We applied decorative moldings similar to those found in plantation homes to the ceiling and the cornices. They were cast from original antique moldings.
We also procured various things including the white marble mantel in the living room which came from a hotel renovation in Belgium, and the antique light fixtures. Some are from Europe, some are from antique auctions.”
Seale installed a quartz floor that is accented with black galaxy granite with gold flecks in the foyer. “The walls in the foyer are raised panels. When you push on those raised panels they pop up and conceal the central heating, washer and dryer, and storing above. So it looks like you are in a formal foyer but it is actually a functional space,” he says. “We purchased an antique facade which includes double doors with the transom above and two raised panels.
The tops are wrought iron,” Seale explains. On the ceiling in the foyer is a lovely mural with cherubs by John Richard that interprets the family. A bronze chandelier that came from an estate in New York hangs from the center of the mural.
Linen sheers with insertions of antique lace were used for the award-winning draperies in the living room. Red and gold stripe brocade draperies hang from ornate rods centered by a cartouche, adding softness and drama to the space. “We slit the stripes and inserted an embroidered organza, so that it flows out of the stripes at the bottom,” Seale says. “Embroidered medallions are at the point of where the insertion of the organza begins. The medallions match the beaded trim of the swag and cascade on the rod,” he explains.
The dining room features an 18-foot-long Central American landscape depicting exotic birds and foliage. “The wall coverings were hand-painted by Stark in New York for this project,” Seale says. “We used old doors from the former doctor’s offices waiting rooms as wainscoting in the dining room.”
Seale designed all the cabinetry in the kitchen. “I purchased the molding with brass chicken wire. There is a crackle finish with interesting knobs,” he says. The sink area has a large, ornate design with snake brown granite. “I drew a pattern for the backsplash onto the granite,” Seale says. The bottom of the sink is draped with fabric.
“It’s like they did in the old days,” he explains. “There was a double window that we cut out and made a doorway to a wrought iron balcony draped in black and white striped awning fabric,” Seale says. “The furniture is all upholstered in black and white.”
There are only two interior doors in the entire apartment. One leads into the bedroom at the end of a short hall. “It was no use to have just a panel door as a focal point. I selected some swans and canthus leaf moldings from antique molds, and I had them assembled on the doors,” Seale explains.
The outer edges of the doors are painted black, and there are ornate hinges. “All the moldings had to be primed, they had to be painted red first, they had to be gold leafed, then antiqued before they were applied to the doors.”
In the bedroom, the walls are draped with 150 yards of fabric. “They are both very busy so they needed a space that was an oasis away from it all,” says Seale. “It is very relaxing.” Some of the fabric on the bed and around the walls is from the Randolph Hearst collection.
“The lamps in the bedroom are objects that were made into lamps,” Seale says. To the right of the bed is a pink antique vase. “I selected a shade that matched the color then placed a jade finial for the top. I personally embellished the shade with gold branches and silk flowers to repeat the design element in the vase. The other lamps were embellished with special braids.”
In the bathroom is a vanity that Seale designed. “I had John Richard hand-paint a swan on the glass mirror that we inset into the door of the vanity because we had swans on the doors to the bedroom. I also found a painting of a swan and had it put behind the tub,” he says.
“In the alcove where the tub is, we installed hand-embroidered silk done in Italy. It took three months to do.” The cornice above the hand-made antique draperies in the bathroom is pressed tin with gold leaf. “To get that feeling of antiquity we antiqued the mirror and used that to mirror the entire alcove,” Seale reveals.
In the shower, Seale created stripes by using an opalescent glazed glass mosaic tile. “Behind the clear tile are fiber optics so that the stripes in the ceiling light up,” he says. “We have specialty lighting throughout the apartment. We also have some specialty things like hand-beaded wall coverings by Maya Romanoff. It’s pretty spectacular.”
From little flourishes such as rosette doorstops that match the doors to the elegant yet functional foyer that conceals a washer and dryer, and the elaborate custom draperies, Seale worked creatively with every detail in a limited space and fashioned a graceful, inviting home for a busy couple on the move.