Mansion Global

Jazzing up a New Orleans Condo—Before and Afte

Owners transformed a white box apartment at the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences into an entertaining pied-à-terre inspired by the Big Easy

Glen Smith and his wife, Marilyn, jumped at the opportunity when they heard that the former World Trade Center towers on Canal Street in New Orleans would be converted into a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences.

“We own a French Provincial-style home about 25 miles outside New Orleans and a log house in Tennessee, but we loved the idea of doing something completely different with this contemporary-style condo,” said Smith, CEO of the Magnolia Companies, a conglomerate that includes maritime operations. “We come into New Orleans a few times a month and this condo, with its amazing views, is where we entertain.”

The Smiths now own a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in the building, where prices for such units range from $2 million to $3.75 million. Their goal was a unique place to showcase New Orleans’s style in a modern way and also create a casual and comfortable home for family weekends in the city.

“We knew we wanted it to be different from our other homes and that putting something French Provincial in a contemporary building wouldn’t work,” said Smith, who opted to hire an interior designer to help personalize the unit. “The result is way beyond our expectations.”

To start, Monique Breaux, president and principal designer of Posh Exclusive Interiors in Lafayette, Louisiana, created a custom-designed wall of lights in the foyer.

“It’s an eye-catching piece and we can control it with our smartphones so that when guests arrive, we hit the ‘welcome’ button and the lights spell out ‘Welcome to Magnolia,’” Smith said. “This whole place is like a fantasy to walk through with the lighting and the speaker system for music.”

To make it an entertainment space, Breaux converted a coat closet into a bar with plenty of storage for liquor and glassware. She built a hidden motorized cabinet for the liquor that can be accessed with the push of a button so that the liquor is only visible when the Smiths have guests.

“We collect sculptures by Paul Wegner, so Monique designed this beautiful mirror in between the living room windows with a bronze sculpture of a jazz musician in front of it so that you see it the moment you walk into the condo,” Smith said.

Also in the living room, Breaux transformed a flat wall into a multidimensional focal point with a backlit floating panel. The TV screen on that wall, along with others in the condo, can be set in “art mode” to resemble a painting when it’s not in use.

Furniture in each bathroom, custom ordered from London, fits Breaux’s nod to New Orleans. The powder room has black-and-gold furniture in honor of the New Orleans Saints football team.

In the primary bathroom, Breaux commissioned an artist from Milan to create what looks like a unique slab of stone but is actually a blend of photographic and digital images coupled with hand processed materials.

“Monique took out everything from the condo except the wiring, the wood floors and the marble kitchen counters and redid it,” Smith said. “When I saw the pieces she was buying I didn’t know what it would look like. It takes someone with her vision to see how everything would work together.”

Here, the designer and owners offered some insights into their aesthetic, challenges and lessons learned.

I would describe the aesthetic as… “disciplined,” Breaux said. “The color palette was controlled, and interest, layering and dimension were curated through texture.”

My advice to others is… “Give your designer the general direction you want and then get out of the way,” Smith said.

The biggest surprise was… “The complete ceiling in the unit was slightly dropped and the sheetrock was not attached to the cement ceiling, so this allowed for desired lighting and AV to be placed in proper locations as required by the design,” Breaux said.

My favorite post-renovation feature is… “The pedestal for our Paul Wegner sculpture,” Smith said. “It’s such a ‘wow factor’ to see it with the mirror behind it and these tall windows on either side.”

The most dramatic change was… “removing the coat closet in the foyer and replacing it with a wet bar using automation to conceal all the liquor,” Breaux said.

A favorite material we discovered during the process was… “I used an amazing artist in Milan to create the custom wall behind the primary bathroom freestanding tub,” Breaux said. “Weight and space were an issue, so we created a design, manageable in terms of logistics and installation, but most importantly staying true to the planned design.”

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