Tucked away on a hard-to-find corner just off Fontainebleau Drive in Broadmoor, the home of Maria and Simon Hardeveld offers a visual feast that captivates anyone fortunate enough to visit. The moment the door opens and one steps inside, there is an unmistakable sense that 21st century America has been left behind.
“We don’t have Internet,” said Maria. “We don’t have a website for our businesses. And we don’t have email.”
Although it seems almost unimaginable that anyone can conduct business without these technologies, Maria and Simon do it with ease.
She is the proprietor of Antiques on Jackson, an emporium of French, Italian, Spanish, English and other types of antique furnishings. He is the city’s beloved “Simon,” who creates giddily colorful signs that appear at dozens of local establishments and in myriad homes.
Together, they have created a world and lifestyle all their own.
“I liked design and old things ever since I was a girl,” said Maria, a New Orleans native who grew up in Mid-City. “When I was little, I’d look under houses and see what I could find — a pretty piece of glass or a marble or something — and I’d bring them home to my mother. She’d put them on a special shelf.”
Maria’s treasure-hunting developed into a full-time occupation. For eight years, she worked at Bush Antiques before leaving in 1999 to open her own store.
“I adore things that are chippy, peely, crusty,” she said. “If something makes my heart flutter, I have to bring it home.”
Maria’s philosophy is embodied in the collection of furnishings, art, china, rugs and objects that fills the couple’s home, featured in Mary Randolph Carter’s design book, “Never Stop to Think… Do I Have a Place for This?” (Rizzoli, 2014).
The book offers a counterpoint to the clutter-busting design philosophy and instead embraces interiors that trumpet their owner’s personal style.
The old farmhouse purchased by the Hardevelds in February 2004 previously housed college students in a warren of rooms. The couple began renovating in February 2005, working with Reginald Bajoie of RB Construction.
Bajoie made quick work of reorganizing the floor plan, removing ill-placed baths and enclosing a side porch. “I wanted to make more room for things,” Maria said.
By August, the couple had moved in with their belongings.
Floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina filled the house with seven feet of water — an oil portrait in the dining room exhibits the telltale water line — destroying almost everything downstairs. Nevertheless, when the couple returned to the city two months later, Bajoie was outside with his trailer, ready to begin again.
Downstairs, there are four main rooms: A front parlor, a second living room for watching television, an expansive dining and kitchen area at the rear and a long narrow room created by the enclosure of the side porch.
A stairwell, located between the front parlor and living room, leads up to the couple’s bedroom at the front of the house, followed by a guest room, catch-all room and Simon’s painting studio.
All walls and floors are painted white, the better to showcase the couple’s collection of furnishings and art.
Maria and Simon enjoy unhurried meals together in the dining room at a long, narrow table made by Skip Strahan. Maria does the cooking, although Simon is a classically trained French chef who owned restaurants in Florida when they met almost 30 years ago.
Simon’s cooking career ended not long after he moved here — “Thank God!” he confessed — but this is where his painting career began.
A collection of Simon’s artworks appears in the house, especially in the kitchen, where a curved bar separates the cooking space from the dining area. Mirrors hang everywhere, but none reflects a true image because of the artfully decayed silvering on the mirror backs.
China is displayed in glass-front cabinets or mounted on the wall, and crockery bowls hold potatoes, garlic and lemons. Dried palm fronds and bouquets of dried roses mingle with small framed images set atop Florentine painted chests.
Given the old world sophistication of the couple’s lifestyle, it is surprising to learn that Maria and Simon rarely travel.
“We used to, but now I have people who buy for me in Europe and up the East Coast. They know what I am looking for,” Maria said. “So why travel? We have everything we want or need right here.”
R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org