A Christmas Renovation Celebration
The Home of Marcia and Dr. Lance Donald
article by Maré Brennan | photos by Martin G Meyers | interior design by Corey Hamilton
Marcia Donald and her family weathered the storm of renovating their home over the past year and are ready to celebrate Christmas with the aplomb it deserves. Marcia explains the process that she undertook with local designer Corey Hamilton as they set about updating the family’s West Monroe home. “I walked in Corey’s store [Serendipity Jewelry] last Christmas and loved the store and the look he achieved. I immediately asked if he could help me with my house, and we started as soon as the holidays were over. We literally repurposed everything,” she smiles as she surveys their handiwork. Corey adds of the finished product, “All of these rooms are my babies, and I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.”
Corey added a unifying and luxurious gold and cream striped wallpaper in the home’s foyer that carries over into the formal living room. Small French chairs with cushions in a subtle cream and gold stripe are accented with zebra print fabric accent pillows. A black and gold mirror over a carved painted and distressed console reflects a grouping of gold Christmas trees and greenery. A zebra-print hide from Z Gallerie in Dallas adds eclectic style.
In the living room, the Donalds’ existing sofa and chairs were rearranged to allow for intimate conversation areas. French bergére chairs were reupholstered in a delicate blue zebra print fabric from Material Things. Antique Italian stools with a lush leopard print cushion along with an antique French secretary were some of Marcia’s favorite High Cotton Antique finds. The lightly frosted Christmas tree resounds with the luxuriousness of the formal living room, mirroring the golden hues and warmth of the room. Generous panels of gold and cream striped silk frame arched windows in the the formal living area and the adjacent dining room. “Twin” Rococo chandeliers from Restoration Hardware infuse the spaces with a profusion of crystal with a hint of metallic shimmer, precision-cut and polished for optimal refraction and sparkle. Both chandeliers are anchored to the ceiling with a deliberately bold, black-painted medallion.
In the dining room, Corey added a chair rail and molding below the rail which were painted a pleasing shade of cream. A graphic damask print of aqua on a metallic gold field sets a regal tone for the formal dining room. Father Christmas’ sleigh is filled with toys and has landed on the antique English buffet from Clements Antiques and a gift from Marcia’s mother. The table is set with Christmas china by Noritake placed on lacquered gold chargers layered on reptile embossed leather placemats. Gold wire Christmas trees add a touch of Baroque elegance as the table’s centerpiece when paired with gilded magnolia leaves, red berries and peacock feathers. One of the most unusual features of the dining room lies tucked in the corner. Explains Marcia as she carefully opens the table to reveal its pristine red satin inner workings, “It’s an antique sewing table which had been my great great grandmother’s from Michigan. We try to make the trip to Michigan every year to see my dad’s family.”
The heart of the home, the Donalds’ kitchen is merry and bright thanks to a lightened palette. Cabinetry were painted and given an antique glaze. A mosaic travertine tile backsplash with bronze details echoes the oil rubbed bronze fixtures throughout the kitchen. Lighted garland delineates upper cabinetry while the built in stove hood is decorated with an evergreen wreath heavily laden with luscious red berries. A handsome stag leaps from the central island, his neck adorned with vintage Christmas ornaments and ribbon. The glass paned upper corner cabinets are filled with decorative holiday containers and décor.
“The first thing we did in the breakfast room was brighten it up,” said Corey. The space which opens into the kitchen and den had been a study of beiges and browns before with a heavy faux finished wall treatment. Now the central space is opened up with a crisp blue and white ikat wallpaper by Thibaut, inspired by Indonesian tie-dyeing techniques. The breakfast room table and chairs were a gift from Marcia’s mother, a former antiques dealer from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A white porcelain container is filled with fresh greenery, hypericum berries in red and green hues and elegantly pavéed red roses. The chandelier above the table is embellished with pine boughs and oversized Christmas ornaments. The family’s “Three Wise Men” follow the star from a place of honor on the breakfast room’s Calcutta marble-topped buffet. Double doors between the breakfast room and the formal living room were removed to allow for an easy flow.
A wall in the den with three sets of French doors, opens out onto the pool area and is softened by Corey with the addition of sheer panels. Crystal iced branches are gathered to create wreaths that are hung on each door. A trio of blue and white patterned pillows strategically placed on a comfortable linen covered sofa lends visual parity with the ikat pattern along with a pair of blue and white double gourd lamps. Built-in bookshelves are filled with photographs of the family and Christmas decor.
“I love our red office,” says Dr. Donald of the chic space just off the breakfast area. A four-panel Chinese screen provides a focal point on the Chinese red lacquered wall behind the couple’s desk. Molding and trim is painted a haute glossy black. The square arm chair upholstered in leopard print was an purchase from one of Marcia’s favorite antique venues from the past, High Cotton. Continuing the room’s “Pearl of the Orient” theme, the office is bejeweled with pearl embellished wire Christmas trees.
The master retreat offers the couple a respite from their busy lives. Designer Corey chose tonal silvers and greys throughout the space to provide a neutral yet glamorous palette. Bedding and pillows in luxurious silks, velvets and furs from Material Things create layers of comfort for the couple. The dark grey damask upholstered headboard is juxtaposed against a background of a silvery grey damask on white wallpaper for a graphic pop which is accentuated even further by the ebonized lacquered crown molding and trim. The bench, found at Horchow Finale, feels light and airy with acrylic legs and a python leather cushion. Marcia found an ingenious way to hide the bedroom’s flatscreen television behind the mercury glass-paneled doors of a Pottery Barn cabinet. Oriental rugs throughout the home were acquired from Trenton Street’s Southern Lady Antiques, including this Oriental rug on a field of bluish grey. The chaise found new life when Corey had it reupholstered in a zebra print fabric from Material Things. Sparkle and shine is what Santa will find on the couple’s bedroom tree. Ornaments of pearl, gold, sterling mirror and garlands of golden seed pods fill the boughs of the bedroom’s tree.
The en suite bathroom’s walls also feature the large damask print. Soft, ebony velvet panels add a layer of privacy for the oval, jetted tub. Corey had the cabinetry painted a soft white and added jewel-like pulls.
The couple’s daughter, Katelyn, a junior at West Monroe High School, loves getting into the holiday spirit. Her room’s white Christmas tree is a playful take on the colors prevalent in her room, which features chartreuse green walls, vintage painted and gilded furniture with snowy hemstitched linen bedding with chartreuse and pink accent pillows. Polka dot wide ribbon in hot pink and chartreuse cascades and gathers down the tree, and vintage style ornaments in hot pink, turquoise and chartreuse with white glitter embellishments add to the frosty feel.
The Donald’s son, Connor, is definitely ready for all that Christmas brings. He gathers his beloved piebald dachsund, Panda; the feisty pomeranian, Jax; and elder statesman labrador, Cody and heads outside to explore. Inside Connor’s room, a natural linen tent hangs above the headboard of the sleigh bed, which is covered in a color-blocked quilt. A trio of candy cane inspired Christmas trees are grouped on his chest of drawers with a tall Santa. Traditional green and red striped mesh ribbon gather along the sides of Connor’s Christmas tree, which is embellished in red and green ornaments.
A gilded mirror with carved birds from Trenton Street Antiques sets the tone for Connor’s bathroom which received a refresh with new wallpaper and cabinetry pulls.
Marcia, originally from Hattiesburg, was working in the hospitality industry in New Orleans at the famed Royal Sonesta Hotel when she met Lance, who was raised in West Monroe. He was working on his endodontic residency, and they happened to be living in the same apartment complex, meeting, of course, where all young people in New Orleans tend to gather to beat the heat – the apartment’s pool. It’s no wonder that the view of the Donald’s back gardens looks across an azure and inviting pool with a stacked stone water feature and spa. Pennsylvania bluestone creates a seamless terrace which leads to the wreath-festooned, brick columned guest house. Teak outdoor seating arrangements invite guests to linger on cool winter days and nights. The lazy susan-equipped teak table has a centerpiece of bare branches that rise from a wreath of pine. Beneath the guest house veranda, the state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen gets the Saint Nick treatment with garlands of pine boughs and pinecones. A wrought iron candelabra gets glowing with large, ivory pillar candles interspersed with rustic jingle bells and velvet ribbon in chartreuse. In the outdoor living space, dark green all-weather wicker with Sunbrella cushions in cream and hunter green stripes are arranged to take full advantage of the cozy outdoor fireplace. A reindeer grapevine planter holds large amaryllis blooms, a sure sign that Christmas is here. On the mantle above the stacked stone fireplace, a large evergreen wreath with a red bow that matches the intensity of the amaryllis petals, garland with pinecones and dried hydrangeas and mini Christmas trees covered in tiny white lights create a nest for the vintage painted iron Nativity.
“We built the guest house seven years ago. This is where we entertain,” explains Marcia. At the entrance to the guest house, a large metal deer with a beautiful neck tie of bright red ribbon with sprigs of pine greenery and a sliver of chartreuse velvet ribbon greets guests. On either side of the French doors are large planters filled with sculpted boxwood and copper lanterns that get in the holiday spirit with evergreen wreaths centered with large red bows.
The sectional in the guest house living room was one of Marcia’s favorite finds from Sleepy Hollow. An oversized ottoman upholstered in chartreuse velvet does double duty as both seating and cocktail table. The tall, guest house Christmas tree is bedecked with burlap ribbon and metallic red and bronze Christmas ornaments and berries. Naturally dried hydrangeas and pinecones mix well with burlap covered balls to create a natural tree for this guest house that backs up to the forests of West Monroe.
Above the guest house’s marble topped dining table, the arms of the chandelier are bedecked for the holidays with pine foliage, green velvet ribbon, dried hydrangea and large jeweled Christmas balls. A trio of fringed burlap Christmas trees form a tactile centerpiece. On the guest house kitchen’s counter, a sassy reindeer holds peppermints for guests to sample.
The colorful abstract paintings hanging above the twin brass beds in the guest house are by local artist Donna Tucker and were purchased at the Ouachita River Art Gallery on Antique Alley. The bedroom is painted a very “liveable” Sherwin Williams green called “Lacewing.” Adding Christmas whimsey to the guest room is a large porcelain deer head with yarn-covered “antlers” which anchors the space between the twin beds. The deer head and the vintage metallic Christmas ornaments in the same hues as the paintings were found at Woodstock Furniture Revival in Monroe. The beds are dressed in matelassé coverlets, monogrammed pillows and striped dust ruffles. Striped silk curtains finish the room with panache.
Over the years, with her refined eye and chic sense of style, Marcia has hunted and gathered a collection of beautiful furnishings and now with the help of designer Corey Hamilton has curated an urbane oasis in the woodsy wilderness of Ouachita Parish.