When Chet Pourciau was growing up in New Iberia in the 1970s, he had little inkling what the future might hold for him professionally.
He did not realize that he was destined to move to New Orleans and parlay his passion for fashion into a career in interior design.
Nor did he guess that one day he would own his own store on Magazine Street, appear regularly on Fox 8 as its resident designer or be the star of “Chet Chat,” his own radio show on WLAE.
“I think the only hint at my future profession was that I was always bored with the furniture in my bedroom at home when I was young and I would always rearrange it,” Pourciau said. “It never stayed the same for very long.
Tonight at the Art for Arts’ Sake reception at his design store, Porciau will launch his own design line, aptly named “Iberia Parish” for the culture that nurtured him.
The line has been his dream ever since embarking on his design career some 10 years or so ago.
“I am thrilled to produce a line of furnishings that I think expresses the combination of elegance and comfort that I strive for,” he said. “Style is so personal, but these pieces are timeless and can work into many different design visions.”
Timelessness is a guiding principle of Pourciau’s work and a theme that unites elements of the decor at the Dublin Street home he shares with his partner, John Sullivan.
“When I first went to design school, all I could think about was all the fabulous fabrics I’d get to play with, because I came to interior design through an interest in fashion,” Pourciau said.
“But then I learned you can’t indulge in everything you love if your interior is going to be cohesive. It’s the hardest thing to do, but you have to have restraint.”
The former corner store where Pourciau lives had been tastefully renovated before he and his partner moved in on 2003.
An expansive living room and dining area had been created and connected visually to a palm-lined patio by a wall of glass.
Vaulted ceilings add to the volume and draw the eye upward. Perhaps the most stunning architectural feature of the space is what Pourciau calls a whiplash stair, a sculptural curving stair that leads up to the second floor.
“When we bought the house, there were two bedrooms upstairs, but we combined them into a single room to create a master suite and re-designed the bath at the same time,” Pourciau said. “We added a skylight in the bath over the Philippe Starck tub to bring in light and offer a view of the sky.”
True to his principles, Pourciau has limited the color palette in the house to a mixture of warm neutral shades, relying on art work curated by Sullivan to add color and visual intrigue.
Paintings by George Dureau, Douglas Bourgeois, and Blake Boyd mix effortlessly with chests by Christopher Maier, furniture by Mario Villa and metal works by Luis Colmenares.
The most visually arresting artwork in the dining room hangs not on a wall but from the ceiling: a chandelier made of dozens of cast glass daggers, cascading at varying lengths, by artist Mitchell Gaudet.
Another Gaudet work serves as the centerpiece of the garden visible from the living and dining rooms. It is a fountain made of cast glass rods meant to mimic the look of giant bamboo.
For Pourciau, the garden area and other outdoor spaces are rooms of the house, no different from the guest room or the study.
“Every room has some kind of visual and physical connection to the outdoors, and the idea is to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Pourciau said. “Bringing the outdoors in through glass walls and doors creates a visual connection between the interior and exterior, and it expands the feel of interior spaces. Likewise, bringing the indoors out by adding comforts like curtains and lamps and cushioned seating makes the outdoor spaces feel more intimate.”
Of the fabrics Pourciau has come to rely on the most, Sunbrella wins the prize. Sunbrella drapes hang at his front door, pulled back to reveal the entrance.
They surround the edges of the carport, where ceiling fans whir above, and can be opened or closed for parties. In the long narrow “Zen” garden — as Pourciau calls it — on the Spruce Street side of the house, Sunbrella curtains soften the edges of glass doors and combine with the framed, oversized wall mirror to create a singular environment.
For all of his success, Pourciau is modest when he explains his design sensibilities.
“It’s all been done before,” he said. “It’s about how you make it your own.”
R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @rstephaniebruno