All the hallmarks of grandeur are present in the 1859 centerhall house on Second Street where Pam and Cedric Martin have lived for a dozen years.
There are Italian marble mantels in the double parlor on the left of the hall and elaborate trumeaux above consoles and fireplaces. Rich silk dressings cover mammoth floor-to-ceiling windows, and French antiques fill the rooms.
The home will be one stop on the Dec. 13-14 Preservation Resource Center’s Holiday Home Tour, a self-guided tour of seven magnificent Garden District homes dressed in holiday finery.
Yet, for all the elegance, the Martins’ house looks exactly like what it is: a comfortable family home.
Parents of three children now in their 20s, the Martins are delighted that their two daughters have remained in (or returned to) New Orleans and their Garden District residence.
“Our daughter, Hope, is working with Cedric, and Arden works in the emergency room at Touro,” said Pam Martin, a dermatopathologist, also at Touro. “We loved having David home from D.C. over Thanksgiving so we could all be together.”
With the rebuilt Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street poised to reopen within the week, Cedric Martin has been working extra-long hours but nonetheless manages to make it home for dinner with his wife and daughters.
“I love to cook, and I prepare dinner every night,” said Pam Martin. “We spend most of our time in the kitchen and breakfast room.”
The recently renovated kitchen and breakfast room had been a dream of hers for years, but it was only after Katrina repairs were complete that she could turn her attention to the project.
When the Martins acquired the house, the space beyond the kitchen was separated from it by a wall and partially devoted to an elevator. A wine cellar at the far end was accessible only from the outside. Banks of white cabinets covered the walls.
“My vision was for a space that felt a lot less like a kitchen and more like a room that you happen to cook and eat in,” Martin said.
To that end, she worked with architect David Waggonner, of Waggonner & Ball Architects, to completely overhaul the space. Out went the elevator, the dividing wall, and the white cabinets. The former wine cellar became an oversized pantry and a door was installed to access it from the breakfast room. A few color-washed cabinets were installed on the walls of the kitchen, but far fewer than were present before.
“I really don’t need more because of the pantry,” Martin explained.
The island was removed and replaced by an antique French pastry table to further lighten the space. A custom-made Lacanche range (“cobalt blue like the color of French subway tile”) was ordered from France, and a copper range hood fabricated and installed. Across the room, a copper farmhouse sink ties to the gleaming antique Dutch chandelier above the breakfast table that designer Patrick Dunne found for the space.
In the overall feel and appearance of the Martins’ home, Dunne is responsible for much more than the chandelier.
A designer and the proprietor of Lucullus Antiques, Dunne devised the home’s luscious color palette, which relies on subtle shades of gold, salmon, sage, and cream that blend and complement one another.
In the intimate study to the right of the hallway, he prescribed no fewer than seven shades of Farrow & Ball paint. The hallway is especially appealing with its subdued salmon-colored walls and paneling painted in a variety of creams and greens.
The revamped kitchen glows a honeyed sunflower color that complements the copper of the range hood and sink and contrasts — very gently — with the emerald green pool outside, visible through glass doors of the breakfast area.
Martin and Dunne also worked together on choosing the extensive collection of French antiques in every room.
“The good thing is that Patrick is a walking encyclopedia. He can tell you the history of everything and how it would have been used,” Martin said. “The bad thing is that he keeps finding things for me, like porcelain plates with a light green border and the initial P on them. I had to have them.”
Displayed in every room of the house are images of the Martin children — a pastel of Hope in a ballet pose, cardboard cutouts of David in his soccer gear, photographs of the family together. An especially lively portrait of all five family members hangs in the dining room, where carved wood paneling and a decorative plaster ceiling convey an otherwise formal mood.
Come holiday time, the Martins take pleasure in decorating their double parlors with keepsakes that reflect family traditions.
“The girls were in the ‘Nutcracker’ from the time they were 5 years old, so there is an ornament on the tree that represents each role that they performed — mouse, soldier, reindeer and so on,” Martin said. “The train at the bottom was started when David was born and each year Santa would bring him that year’s design of the Lionel Christmas car.”
From the cane chairs at the dining table to the settees in the double parlor, all of the Martins’ antiques are put to use in service of their lifestyle; none is so precious that it does not get used. Martin sees the collection as both beautiful and practical.
“I think antiques like these are an investment, something that will gain in value and that can be passed down to our children one day,” she said. “One year Cedric asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told him I wanted the chaise longue that’s now in the study. ‘Thank God,’ he said. ‘That’s so much more practical than jewelry.’”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Dec. 6, 2014, to correct the dates of the tour.
R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.