The Home of Misti and Hardeman Cordell
by Maré Brennan | photographs by Joli Livaudais
floral arrangements by Stuart Scalia and Misti Cordell
Interior Designs by Misti Cordell, Embellish by Misti
his is a house of boys,” laughs the vibrant woman of the house, Misti Cordell, designer and owner of Embellish, by Misti. “I am so outnumbered. Even our dog, Buster, and cat, Socks, are boys.” And so she begins the tour of the home she lovingly redesigned to fit the needs of her family. With seven acres over the levee that runs through the Cordell’s backyard, this property is the ultimate river playground for the two active sons she raises with her husband, Hardeman. To make this house work, “I had to center this home around outdoor living. It’s the perfect house for crazy boys and all their neighborhood friends,” she says.
When Cordell’s good friend and realtor Misti Hajj found a buyer for the Cordells’ last house, Misti knew she had to quickly find a place to live. “I stuck a note in the Marshall’s door asking if they were interested in selling and letting them know we were serious about buying.” Luckily, it was perfect timing and a match was made. While renovations were underway that doubled the home’s footprint, the Cordells rented a house next door.
The home’s circular drive is softened by mature plantings which are interspersed with gravel and stepping stone paths that lead to the back gardens and pool. The front veranda sets the welcoming tone for the home, with copper gas lanterns flickering and rocking chairs with linen cushions with round horn embellishments lending a chic earthiness to the front porch seating area. A glass topped table is home to a terracotta pot overflowing with pansies. Custom, glass-paned doors with contemporary transoms and a solid paneled door with sidelights and a transom of the same design are a unique design feature that sets the tone for the home’s play on traditions with a modern twist.
Misti had her contractor, Joey Hodnett, widen the foyer, creating a more inviting space when entering the home. Black and white photographic portraits of the couple’s boys, John and Hank, rise along the staircase wall in oversized frames. Two, distressed black demilune console tables with carved legs reminiscent of those of a gazelle are placed on either side of the arched entrance to the home’s dining room. Dramatic oil on wood panel paintings by Lissy Sanders Compton create focal points above the consoles.
Wide planks of Acacia Asian Walnut hardwood flooring create a unifying element throughout many of the home’s public spaces and flow through to the bedrooms. Misti uses neutral colors for the home’s walls, like Sherwin Williams’ Stingray – “a chameleon that looks different in different light” and Aloof Grey – “a soft grey that allows the furnishings to take center stage.” These are the colors, she says, which remind her of the coast. “I love the beach,” she laughs. “I must have lived there in another life. I love all the muted, tranquil colors of the beach, with healthy doses of turquoise added to the mix.”
In the dining room, Misti treats the ceiling as a fifth wall with verdigris copper squares expertly applied by Cindy Green. The texture and color on the ceiling draws the eye upward and toward the large-scale drum pendant chandelier centered over the oval dining room table. The drum pendant itself is a conservative dark bronze shade on the outside, but while seated at the table, dinner guests are treated to a sweet surprise as they gaze upwards. The inside of the shade is hand-painted with gold and Asian red florals on a background the turquoise of a Bahamian cove. The Staffordshire china, made by Ashworth & Bros. of Hanley in the late 1800s, is a family heirloom handed down from Hardeman’s grandmother and is used to set the dining table, the first table that Misti and Hardeman bought together. The chairs, covered in a natural linen with nailhead trim, are French antiques that were found at Traditions on Trenton with the help of the late Victor Cascio. The intricately carved buffet from Inside Indigo and a pair of lamps from Paul Michael Company anchor one end of the light-filled room. Custom made panels of turquoise silk intersect with a band of sand-hued silk with a Greek key border to add drama to the space. On the wall nearest the foyer, a pair of Flambeau Armory demilune console tables with gold and silver leaf faces and gilded swirl feet are illuminated by a pair of two-arm Flambeau gilded sconces which pick up the gold accents of the central pendant lighting.
The sitting room, which lies just beyond the foyer, is Misti’s favorite place to read a book or just relax. Two French bergère chairs from Traditions on Trenton covered in natural linen and a plush sofa with nailhead trim and accented with linen and turquoise blue chevron striped pillows create a cozy spot for conversation beneath an Uttermost contemporary, drum shade chandelier of woven gold leafed metal bands. Misti had built-in cabinetry installed to hide a television and to create added storage. Hardeman’s grandmother’s desk is a repository for a myriad of family photos (Misti proudly points out a photo of a dashing young fellow who is her soon-to-be 100-year-old grandfather) and is sited beneath a large Art Nouveau poster that Misti found in Shreveport.
Walking toward the spacious den, one passes a large hall mirror with a realistic copper verdigris hue, which was painted by Misti’s favorite faux finisher and friend, Amy Peters. The den is a handsome space which features a fireplace surrounded by floor to ceiling built-ins and a hearth that spans between them. The antlers on either side of the Audubon style print above the charcoal upholstered sofa were deer taken by Hardeman and his sonm John. “Jethro,” the sock monkey given to Misti when she was 3 by her beloved grandmother, keeps a watchful eye over the family. The room with stone floors opens out onto the pool area through large French doors with an arched transom. A conveniently located shower room and built-in cabinet loaded with personalized towels makes for easy clean ups when the boys are muddied up from trips over the levee.
The family’s most enjoyed room; however, is the multipurpose outdoor living space which opens directly into the open-concept kitchen through a set of sliding French doors and out onto the garden and pool areas. The areas which open into the garden are easily screened in or opened fully to nature with the touch of a remote control which can simultaneously lift the mesh screens for unfettered access or lower them to keep pesky critters at bay. “We live outside,” explains Misti. “We are out here all the time.” Adds her friend Stuart Scalia, “This is our flower arranging spot,” as she points to the outdoor kitchen’s granite-topped island.The vaulted ceiling features extraordinary, salvaged beams that give the outdoor space and the home’s main kitchen a distinct lodge-like feel that is certainly fitting as hunting is the Cordell men’s favorite pastime. River rocks that cover the fireplace wall were sourced from Arkansas Stone. On the wall nearest the fireplace hang two iron crosses which Misti’s daddy, a ferrier, made for Misti and Hardeman with his forge and rasp. Building contractor Hodnett built the picnic table and benches from left over beams from the renovation project. Says Misti, “That table is staying right where it is. It is so heavy and built to last.” Blue stone floors throughout the outdoor pavilion are laid in a Versailles pattern.
Inside, the home’s main kitchen is a study of contrasts. Glass front cabinets provide spaces to show off heirloom china while an innovative “coffee and microwave garage” keeps appliances behind closed doors when not in use. Misti credits Sandy at Key Millwork for helping design an efficient kitchen. “There’s not an ounce of wasted space,” marvels the homeowner. A generous T-shaped island features glacier white granite on the end where the 6-burner gas range is located and a dark-stained wenge wood top on the other. Counterstools in alternating colors of turquoise and a dark espresso stain line the edges of the island. Above the island, task lighting comes in the shape of a pair of gilded iron chandeliers with amber crystals and candle-like lighting sources. Misti, along with Mark Parker added layer after layer of color and glaze to create the metallic finish on the island, cabinetry and selected tall cabinets at either end of the kitchen, using a dark gray, copper, metallic silver and blue washes to create the end result. The remainder of the kitchen cabinetry is painted a grey with a warm brown wash, to create an aged effect. A cool, stainless steel farmhouse sink is juxtaposed against the warmth of a matte soapstone countertop and a backsplash of black lip mother of pearl mosaic tiles.
In the master bedroom, Misti designed the custom-made, button-tufted charcoal velvet headboard. Mirrored side chests are topped with lamps found at River City Lighting. Roman shades in a matching charcoal velvet were found at market. A pair of zebra stools lie at the foot of the bed. A trio of seashell prints hang on the wall reminding the homeowners of the beaches that they love to frequent. Double doors lead to the en suite master bath resplendent in Carrera marble mosaic tile interspersed with glass tile from Lunada Bay. Says Misti of planning her bathroom tile design, “It was fun to do, like putting together a puzzle.” A tall, antique silver leaf pier mirror with shell design was acquired from Jeff Moody. A reproduction claw foot tub takes center stage beneath a 6-arm chandelier from Stuart Irby “that Mrs. Sarah (Hayward) helped me pick out,” explains Misti. The walk-in shower features a bench and frameless glass shower door. Duravit’s low-profile modern sinks sit atop matching his and her vanities with crystal door pulls from Anthropologie that shimmer like jewelry. Flambeau Fragment sconces in a silver leaf add light to each side of the vanities’ beveled mirrors.
A hallway lined on one side with built-in storage and on the other with family photographs leads to the boys’ bedroom and bath. The bathroom features a matte limestone countertop with Lunada Bay glass tile in a herringbone pattern as its backsplash. A hand-hammered oval vessel sink in copper adds visual interest to the vanity which also features interesting drawer pulls the homeowner acquired at Anthropologie. The boys’ room is all boy, with a set of twin beds beneath each boy’s prized trophy deer mounts. Between the beds is an unusual round side table holding the boys’ turtle, “Terry,” and his turtlescape. Antique trunks lie at the foot of each bed. Panels of grey and ivory striped fabric give privacy and add a graphic punch to the room.
To create a home that reflects its family so succinctly is a gift that Misti frequently shares with others. The Cordells’ home reflects Misti’s unique vision of how to live comfortably and maintain the chic style she loves.
Misti is currently coordinating the interiors of the 2014 St. Jude Dream Home, which will be raffled away on April 27. Tickets ($100 each) for a chance to win the St. Jude’s home are available at Paul Michael Company, D&D Cleaners and Regions Bank. You can follow the home’s progress on Facebook at Monroe La St Jude Dream Home or you can call 1-800-726-9874