The Patina of Personality
At the home of Betty Whitt in Baton Rouge’s Old Goodwood neighborhood, all of the furnishings and art have that rare cohesion of a collection put together over many years by an individual with distinct personality and style. Add to that a setting designed and built by the owner, and you have a uniquely artistic interior.
When Whitt, a real estate agent, got ready to build her own home, she let her creativity take over and crafted a house that is 100 percent original and reflects her personality in every detail. Together with architect Dwayne Carruth of the Front Door Design Studio, Whitt came up with an unusual floor plan and lovely indoor and outdoor spaces to suit her every whim. She even designed rooms around favorite furniture.
The architect and client were already close friends. “The whole process was easy because I knew Betty and her taste,” says Carruth. “We sat down during a hurricane with no electricity and sketched out the design in three hours.” After that initial design, only one wall was changed.
As for the style of the house, Whitt says, “I took poetic license with a traditional Louisiana courtyard house, updated it, kicked it up a little bit.” Open spaces, lots of windows and a restrained palette to accommodate her art collection were high on the list of priorities.
The house contains wonderful contradictions: It seems big, yet cozy; contemporary, yet warm; and urban, yet country. As a good example, the floor throughout most of the house is concrete, but with a brown and ochre stain, semigloss finish, and etched diamond pattern, it exudes the inviting, natural appeal of aged hardwood.
Contemporary art pieces share wall space with blue and white china. A very modern chandelier by Paul Gruer hangs over the dining table, with the ceiling above constructed of weathered antique boards.
The overall effect is a beautiful balance that is both comfortable and fun, what Whitt calls “traditionalish with a contemporary edge.”
Whitt emphasizes, “It is definitely my haven. It’s an easy place to live.” The easy part must arise from the fact that everything about the house suits her perfectly, by design.