For Chris and Hilary Kennedy, decorating their 1920s-vintage cottage is a family affair.
Hilary Kennedy is the granddaughter of Dixon Smith, for decades one of Baton Rouge’s leading interior designers. Kennedy’s father, Jim Smith, now runs the family business, Dixon Smith Interiors, where Hilary Kennedy works.
Even though Kennedy’s mother, Ruth Smith, is not involved in interior design, she is the problem solver.
“My mom’s so handy and useful,” Kennedy said. “I lived in an apartment for the last 10 years, so I was not used to keeping up a house. When I have something to fix in the house, I call her.”
The Kennedys purchased their 1,450-square-foot home off Perkins Road shortly after they moved back to Baton Rouge from Nashville, where they were both working. The home had been unoccupied for several years, but it was in good condition.
“We liked it because it was so light and bright,” Kennedy said.
She wanted the home to have a modern feel while maintaining its traditional style. The living room and dining room are separate but are open to each other through a wide arch.
“I like a balance between open and more traditional,” Kennedy said. “You can get too open.”
The living room is painted a soft white and is decorated with comfortable modern furniture. A glass and iron coffee table and carefully chosen accessories tie the room together.
The dining room is a combination of antiques played off a modern, round concrete dining table.
“I grew up with antiques,” Kennedy said. “I love them.”
One particular piece, a French buffet a deux corps (buffet in two pieces), belonged to Dixon Smith, who approved of her granddaughter’s plan to paint the interior blue with an antiqued finish on the exterior.
“I painted it with Dixon’s blessing,” Kennedy said. “The piece was made to hold alcohol, so we put our bar in it.”
The former owners redid the kitchen several years ago putting in windows that come down to the countertops, where normally there would be a backsplash.
“I love the view to the outside,” Kennedy said. “The kitchen is not big, but it does the trick.”
The home is filled with artwork from several local artists. Over the living room mantel is a large oil by Lynn Sanders. Kennedy has framed needlework done by her mother as well as woodcuts by Dixon Smith.
“The other week, I admired a picture at Dixon’s house by Donna West, and Dixon just pulled it off the wall and gave it to us,” Kennedy said.
The home has two bedrooms and two baths connected by a narrow hall with an old built-in telephone nook.
“That’s one of the old touches we like about the house,” Kennedy said. “Every week or every month we put things there we want to focus on.”
Right now, the Kennedys are working on plans to add a sunroom, laundry room and a master suite at the back of the home.
They hope to get started in the next month or so.
With plenty of advice from Dixon Smith decorators Joel Fazende and David Coco, Kennedy is always adding accessories or changing things around.
“Growing up in the interior design world, I like change,” she said. “My husband is sweet enough to let me do it.”