The Beauty Found Within: A Baton Rouge home is Reborn

Dr. Joseph Cefalu, a prominent cardiologist with a passion for gardening, and his wife, Julie, a nurse specializing in anesthesiology, embarked on a simple project in April. They wanted to revise and refresh their keeping room near the kitchen because “it needed to be updated and more functional,” Julie says. “We needed more seating areas.” The couple resides in a beautiful home with their teenage son in Baton Rouge. The keeping room serves as the family room.

But what started out as a one room touch-up ended as a total revision of the home’s interior design. “We changed everything, including every window treatment, the colors, every piece of furniture, every rug, and we bought beautiful new paintings,” Julie says. “I even changed all my chandeliers.”

“The best part is that the entire job was finished several months later, a few days before Christmas, just in time for our big party. Jerad worked magic!” she said of their highly sought after interior designer, Jerad Gardemal. He has been with the renowned Beth Claybourn Interiors in Baton Rouge for the past 14 years. Collaborations came into play as the couple and their designer worked closely together for the transformation.

Taking the project one step further, the exterior of the residence was also repainted. “I hated the red brick,” Julie exclaims. “We painted it to be more of a Mediterranean style.” Because of the new pale cream color, the prior addition to the home now blends in seamlessly with the original structure.

“Jerad was wonderful to work with. He has impeccable taste with design, spaces, and accessories, and he made it very easy for me. I just told him what I liked and he took it from there,” Julie comments.

“We originally started to redo the furniture in the keeping room but we ended up doing all the floors and draperies, too. It was always kind of formal, but never refinished,” she says. “We had done an addition three years ago, and once we got going with Jerad and finished the keeping room, we worked so beautifully together that we decided to remodel everything in the house, starting with the master bathroom.”

The master bath was gutted and a new tub, a new shower, and marble floors were installed, laying the groundwork for the metamorphosis. “I had a faux finisher come in and do the Venetian plaster, which turned out beautifully.”

“We wanted to make it like a fine hotel bathroom, Gardemal explains. “We did a beautiful design on the floor, we put in some pretty French wall sconces that complemented the chandelier she had, and we added a soft metallic swag window treatment in the bathroom windows, which gave it the last bit of softness that it needed.”

Moving on to the living room, Gardemal infused the space with his signature elegance. “The living room is now a very dramatic departure from where it was originally,” he says. “We did all new lighting, including the chandeliers, and really fine oil paintings were added. In the large entertainment area that now anchors one wall of the space, we displayed beautiful Italian porcelain pieces,” he says.

“We had a faux finisher do the entertainment center as well as the fireplace to tie them into the walls,” he comments. “The fireplace marble, Louisa Blue, is extremely rare.”

The blue and teal marble surrounds the hearth, picking up colors in the carpet. Window treatments were done in pale gold and silk damask, softening the setting. A hand-loomed, custom made rug from Cyrus Persian Carpets took nine months to come in. “It came in the week before our Christmas party,” Julie exclaims. “We had it custom made because the room was so big.” A lovely view of the living room and foyer, with its vaulted ceiling, is afforded by a catwalk.

The living room, which was done in shades of celadon, coral, and pale gold, is enhanced with a pair of love seats by the fireplace. Custom pillows add punches of color, and complement a pair of French arm chairs that balances off the other side of the room, thus creating two seating areas. “Overall, the living room has a softer feel to it. Julie originally had a house with jewel tones, but she didn’t want to create something new that she was going to grow tired of,” Gardemal says. “I love traditional,” Julie explains.

The history of traditional design, which is clearly America’s most popular decorating theme, comes from an ability to adapt to lifestyle changes, while avoiding signs of aging. “Julie wanted to keep it traditional. The challenge was that she wasn’t able to use her rooms really functionally, they weren’t laid out right. So we made them inviting and also more functional, not only the formal rooms but the casual rooms as well. They had a lot or really great pieces, they just weren’t in the right place. Julie told me that they really wanted to enjoy their house, and they did not want to redo it again,” Gardemal says.

The classic traditional theme was extended to the dining room, which was enhanced with beautiful brocade swag window treatments in water blue with gold and cranberry accents.

“It’s not even the same house. I have put everything we had in storage for the kids,” Julie reveals. Her husband, Joe, worked on the garden. “I could do it all day,” says the busy cardiologist who is devoted to his garden. “Right now, I probably have around 13 to 14 varieties in around 50 pots. I’ll have 27 to 30 varieties in the summer months. I usually change the color about twice a year.”

“He has landscaped the entire back courtyard and it is stunning,” Gardemal says. “He also landscaped around the pool. He does that every day, without fail.”

The collaboration of an interior designer with a fresh perspective, combined with the dedication and passion of the owners, has produced lasting results. Functionality, comfort, and elegance reign in this reborn Baton Rouge home, where tradition and family coexist in style.

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