LAFAYETTE — When Dr. Marc and Susan Saad built their home two years ago, the vision was to have a space where they could entertain. And keep three children under the age of 8 entertained as well.
The idea was to maintain grown-up sophistication yet keep the home casual and easy to live in, a place where a family of five could cook in the kitchen and friends could gather for a backyard swim.
“I wanted it to be timeless and elegant but fun, too,” Susan Saad said. “And it had to have two things — a black and white winding staircase like the one in Auntie Mame, the second was the vent hood.”
The house is white — inside and out. White sofas, white kitchen and white walls. But what appears formal is actually skillful sleight of hand.
“There’s a method to the madness," Susan Saad said. “We didn’t want to wait until the children were grown to have a pretty house. There’s no TV in the living room. … And it helps to have cushions you can flip.”
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The décor accomplishes its multipurpose task through a chic blending of periods and strategies. Tiger print pillows are fun and young, yet are completely at home with an Eastlake settee, Empire chairs and a fainting couch. The open floor plan integrates the kitchen's granite-topped island, contemporary art and copper pots atop a French Lacanche stove.
Susan Saad and her husband did the plans and decorating themselves for the five-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot Audubon Plantation subdivision home.
“I love design; it’s definitely my creative outlet,” Susan Saad said. “And my husband is very gracious, he doesn’t care what I put in the house.”
Marc Saad, a heart rhythm specialist from Baton Rouge, did choose one light fixture at an art crawl in New Orleans.
“He said he didn’t care where it went, just so long as it went somewhere,” his wife said.
The house is filled with natural light. A palette of creams and blues and other neutrals shows the couple’s art collection to advantage, and pieces by Tony Mose and Austin James dominate, while work by a relative rests on the mantle.
Most items in the house have sentimental meaning as well. Susan Saad, who is originally from New Orleans and lost a previous house in Hurricane Katrina, knows their value.
“I like aesthetics,” she said. “We eat on the china. We use the house.”
Some of those aesthetics include reclaimed wood floors, salvaged materials and Turkish limestone in the foyer. Susan Saad likes the juxtaposition of old and new, a classic New Orleans design element. Carriage lanterns and a 19th-century plantation chandelier dot contemporary rooms, and the fainting couch was once used by a store to hold designer pillows.
“I took them all off and negotiated a deal,” she said. “It’s got some age on it, but it’s the most functional piece we have. The kids sleep on it when it’s thundering.”
Clean, uncluttered surfaces are another preference.
“I don’t really like a lot of tchotchkes,” she said.
In the living room, lavender silk taffeta draperies puddle on the floor. And while her husband was skeptical at first of purple, she was not.
“I wanted draperies that dance like ball gowns,” Susan Saad said.
There is a formal dining room for holidays and more Tony Mose, this time The Holy Trinity.
“Each of the kids will get a piece of the triptych when they’re grown,” she said.
The copper container currently holding an orchid in bloom is from her mother.
“She wanted it back later, and I said no,” Susan Saad said with a laugh.
Seven-year-old Eric, Birdie, who's 6, and 2-year-old Nora each have their own rooms upstairs, plus a playroom that boasts its own “Rodrigue” Blue Dog, the product of Painting with a Twist. Birdie’s room has antique beds and an upholstered chair painted as a family project.
Her vision complete, Susan Saad’s a bit wistful now that the house is done.
“We wanted to have a house both families could come to and have enough space to hold everyone," she said. "We always do a lot in the house with the kids and like having people over. It’s important to us.
“I wanted the house to be our voice.”
At the moment, that voice is clamoring downstairs for treats.