Long before ground was broken on Holley Guidry’s new home in Old Metairie, Guidry had begun designing it in her mind.
“Every other house we have lived in reflected Shane’s taste,” she said, referring to her husband. “I told him that this one needed to express mine.”
After years of planning, construction and shopping for home furnishings, the Guidrys will open their home to the public Friday during the Country Day Holiday Home Tour. The event features four handsomely appointed homes in Old Metairie, plus two more Uptown.
“I came from really modest beginnings,” Guidry said. “My children can’t understand how my siblings and I shared one chest of drawers and one closet. I think the less you have growing up, the more family matters to you, because all you have is each other.”
And family is the main inspiration for features that the Guidrys incorporated into their new home.
“I wanted this to be the place where my kids brought their friends home to, rather than for them to be out all of the time,” she said.
At 18,000 square feet, the home offers plenty of space for the Guidrys’ son, Ashton, a 20-year-old student at the University of New Orleans, and their twin daughters, McKinley and McKaelyn, 17. It’s also home to “the baby,” 5-year-old Hailey. A nephew is about to move in, and two small dogs, Bella and Baxter, round out the household.
“The home theater is a place where the whole family can gather,” said Guidry. “It was one of the rooms I knew I wanted in this house and that our old house lacked.”
In addition to a small wine room and a dog room where Bella and Baxter can go when the Guidrys entertain, the house includes a spa.
“There’s an infrared sauna, a steam room, massage table and a nail station. There is also a haircutting station where Shane gets his hair cut every Monday morning,” Guidry said.
Once Guidry had a floor plan nailed down, the next step was to define what the house would look like.
“I worked with architect Bobby McKenzie of Baton Rouge and builder Pete Bologna. I knew I wanted something classic and French, but wasn’t sure of the materials and style, so we made a trip to Dallas and drove around until I saw what I wanted,” she said. “I knocked on the door and asked the owners who had done all of the intricate stonework and that’s how AMS (American Masonry Supply) got involved.”
Clad in stone and featuring an elaborate cast stone archway at the entry, the house occupies a prime corner location.
Large urns, planted with flowers and embellished with cherubs, flank the steps leading up to the 16-foot-tall doors. The doors open into a great hall, a room that stretches from the front of the house to the rear wall, with a ceiling 24 feet high.
A massive fireplace on the left, a curving stair on the right, and a semi-circular bar provide architectural points of reference in the vast space.
A window wall at the rear opens to a loggia, offering a view of a grand fountain. Off the great hall on the left is the master suite, with bedroom, bath and immense walk-in closet. To the right are the kitchen, dining area, and informal living room, each flowing into the next.
“I love to cook and didn’t want to feel separated from everyone while I was doing it,” Guidry said. “And I didn’t want the dining area to be in a room by itself because I felt like that would be too stuffy. I can be in the kitchen cooking and still talk to my girls when they’re in the living room.”
Guidry’s husband owns and operates Harvey Gulf International Marine, an oilfield boat enterprise that he has grown from a $600 million concern to a $3 billion company. All the same, he spends time in the kitchen, too, where a magnificent La Cornue range commands attention.
“Shane is the baker in the family,” Guidry said. “We’ve been in the house a year and still haven’t unpacked his cake decorating kit, so for now it’s mostly cupcakes with the girls.“
Although the custom cabinetry throughout the home is Guidry’s favorite feature (“I worked with Pete and George Rudolph — they were able to build what was in my head”), the many antique mirrors, unusual chandeliers and handcarved angels were found on buying trips to France and Italy and shipped home for storage until the house was complete. Rather than work with a designer, Guidry relied on her own instincts, and occasionally the advice of friend Lisa Ludwig, when selecting furnishings.
“Almost everything was bought especially for the house,” she said. “And I knew where each piece would go when I bought it.”
Guidry can’t help but feel happy about the results of her years of labor conceptualizing and detailing her family home, but there is something she would change if she could.
“It’s the lighting system. It’s computerized and so complicated that it’s impossible to operate,” she laughed.