It took moving to Atlanta for Tom and Barbara Sawyer to embrace the condominium life.
So when they returned to Baton Rouge, the couple chose their new home in Wrenwood for many of the same reasons — no yard, low maintenance and the security of a close-knit, friendly neighborhood.
The home's front entrance is off a common area, but the Sawyers chose to make their courtyard, planted with Barbara Sawyer's favorite flowers, the main entrance.
"Every summer I think I will plant the courtyard with something that stays green all the time, but I never do," she said. "My grandmother was a flower person. I mix flowers that I like, whatever will grow out there."
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The main room of their home, a large living room/kitchen combination with a small, open-sitting room just off the kitchen area, looks out on the courtyard.
An entire wall in the living room is a built-in unit of cypress cabinets and a fireplace with a marble and cypress mantel. The floors are brick.
Originally, the walls in the home were painted a soft neutral color, but Barbara Sawyer needed a change.
"I am a warm person," she said. "I have to have warm colors."
Over many years, Barbara Sawyer has used her friend and tennis partner Nita Gauthier as her interior designer.
Gauthier suggested the muddy gold paint, called Monroe Bisque, that sets off the Sawyers' antique furniture, Oriental rugs, collections of blue and white china and Asian accessories, many collected in their travels. The problem was what to do with the built-in cypress cabinets, which are "not as in vogue" as they were a decade or so ago.
Gauthier wanted to paint them, but Tom Sawyer liked the beautiful grained wood. The Sawyers kept the deep color of the original cypress and used rich fabrics to give the room a warm, traditional look.
The kitchen area is delineated from the living room area by a large island with seating.
"When our children and grandchildren visit, they like to sit at the island for their meals," said Barbara Sawyer, who sells real estate with CJ Brown.
The Sawyers have two sons. Paul and his wife, Lisa, and their son and daughter live in Baton Rouge. Richey and his wife, Dina, live in Dallas with their three sons.
The home has a separate dining room off the kitchen and a small foyer with the stairway that leads to two bedrooms upstairs. The master bedroom is downstairs.
"Nobody sees the foyer because nobody uses the front door," Barbara Sawyer said.
The home is filled with furniture and accessories collected over years. Lots of the pieces have stories, like the antique chairs in the living room that the Sawyers sent home from a European trip and recovered in a blue and cream print. Squares of the original tapestry from the chairs are framed and displayed in the dining room.
One of their most unique items is a large pine cabinet that was originally a French chicken coop. It's in the little sitting room off the kitchen and is filled with blue and white china. Above the kitchen cabinets are colorful pieces of Portuguese pottery the Sawyers lugged home on an airplane. A large tapestry gives color to the foyer wall behind the stairway.
"Nothing is what you would call fine, fine, fine," Barbara Sawyer said. "But we just had fun collecting these things."