Mise En Place Mediterranean
GREGORY HUDGINS REVIVES THIS LONG-NEGLECTED MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE HOME IN THE HEART OF SOUTH MONROE. THIS PETITE STUCCO JEWEL BREATHES LIFE WITH HUDGINS’ UNIQUE VISION.
ARTICLE BY MARÉ BRENNAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTIN G MEYERS
WHEN A HOUSE CALLS YOUR NAME, the sound is palpable in your heart. Gregory Hudgins had experienced the pull of the petite Mediterranean Revival home on historic St. John Street for years. For a favored client, Gregory led the renovations and interior design on the stately Georgian home next door. The owner, a local entrepreneur, had fortuitously purchased the long-neglected Mediterranean-style structure next door in hopes of restoring it to become a pool house.
Fast forward to an aligning of the stars. At the same point that Gregory sold his own West Monroe home, his client had a change of landscaping plans that would mean that Gregory’s dream of restoring this little stucco jewel would be realized, but now he was his own client!
IN THE BEGINNING.
After falling into disrepair, the home was a shell of its original self. To say there was a front door was a misnomer. The “front door” opening had been half boarded shut with a blanket to facilitate coming in and out of the space. The home was condemned, with no running water and a tub, which had fallen through to the first floor from the second floor bathroom. Over the years, ceilings had been dropped, fluorescent lighting added and key windows boarded over. It was hard to see the floor for the mess, but the bones and pedigree of the home shown like a diamond in the rough. When most would have run, Gregory signed up with a vision and the mantra that “a man’s home is his castle.”
Early on in the renovation, part of the original front door was found, reconstructed and painted Farrow and Ball’s French Grey with the original Craftsman-style hardware and door knocker intact. Brick walls in the den were uncovered and the dropped ceilings were removed. Gregory got a call from his contractor to get to the jobsite quick when 200 year old heart pine beams original to the home were found beneath the den’s low ceilings. Heart racing moments like this were de rigueur for the project. Original quarter-sawn oak floors and original pine flooring upstairs were refinished to their previous glory. With the home sited to take advantage of the sun and its natural energy, Gregory explains that the construction of the home’s walls of brick with plaster on the inside and outside creates a fortress-like quality, giving the interiors the feeling of being inside a wine cellar, even at the peak of summer.
A technophile, Hudgins embraced the newest smart technologies when wiring his home to maximize comfort and enjoyment. From his phone, Gregory can control lighting and sound through the use of smart bulbs, dimmers and integrated sound systems, which the designer himself installed. In addition, guests can get their “science nerd on” when Hudgins brings the Celestron telescope out onto his upstairs office balcony. Mind you, this is industrial, NASA-strength technology that universities regularly employ in their studies of the heavens, which allows you to connect to WIFI and smart phones. You can then stream images of the cosmos direct to your phone!
A Louisiana Master Gardener, Gregory is ready for the next phase of the renovation, which will take place outside with the addition of native grasses and Mediterranean style plantings to accentuate the beauty of the exterior, when the weather turns more hospitable.
Built in 1927 by Herbert Land, Gregory shares the home’s built-in passion for mise en place. “Every space is important in a home this size,” explains Gregory as he walks through the foyer. “For instance, the space underneath the original butler’s pantry is six feet deep and retreats under the stairs. Not a drop of space was wasted. The architect, who designed this home, fit all the pieces together like a 3-D puzzle.” The dining room’s china closet with glass doors was designed to maximize space under the stairs.
Inspired by south of France coastal chateau interiors, Gregory chose a subdued color scheme using Farrow and Ball paints throughout the home’s interiors and exteriors. “Farrow and Ball colors have great values that reflect light. Because they are formulated in England, they are very conscious of light. I believe that is the Farrow and Ball strong point. Their paints magnify the light in rooms,” says the designer in the know.
Grey and white checkerboard tiles soften the palette in the foyer and kitchen and are repeated in the upstairs bathroom. A coffered ceiling treatment in the kitchen adds to the Côte D’Azur vibe. During the renovation, a hidden window was uncovered. Following suit with reimagining the kitchen with the most modern of conveniences, Gregory collaborated with Sandy Sartor from Key Millwork to make sure form followed function while keeping style at the fore. Gregory knew he wanted tall, lighted cabinets to showcase his well-loved crystal collection. “I use it everyday,” he adds. “There are no ‘everyday’ drinking glasses.” The kitchen, though small, manages to carve out space for a coffee station, which retains an open feel through the use of bronze mesh on the sides, and a fabric draped pantry. To add space for cookbooks, Gregory added a trio of marble shelves from World Market. A still life by Adam Davenport and an historical painting enliven the space. Gregory chose marble subway tile as a backsplash. A gilded antique French mirror, sourced from Nick McKinney, creates an unusual focal point behind the gas range. A pair of modern swing arm sconces provide task lighting above the stove.
FINDING DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH.
Hudgins could write a book on treasure hunting. The demi-foyer alone could be a case study in trusting your instincts. Gregory’s friend, antique dealer Nick McKinney, says that objects resonate with the aura and energy of the people who have owned them before and can call for you to find them. So vast are these types of finds throughout the home that one has to wonder what special clairvoyant talents Hudgins possesses. The Waterford crystal pendant light that hangs in the foyer was a $20 Trenton Street find. According to Gregory, the light had to be totally reworked and rewired, but the end result is sparkling. The early Roman marble antiquity was discovered The Eccentric in West Monroe. Can you imagine the designer’s adrenaline rush when the price was less than a typical trip to Target? The Century chesterfield sofa in the den was found at John’s Trading Company. “Something just told me to stop by John’s Trading that day. I had been looking for a blue leather chesterfield sofa for so long, and there it was, only $200!” says Gregory of his unlikely find. “The sofa had been in a lawyer’s office.” A prized Georgian stool, crafted in 1780, was an Antique Alley $12.50 treasure that now adds extra seating in the den. In the master bedroom, a bolt of golden Fortuny fabric found at a local garage sale has become exquisite drapery and a coordinating bedcovering. The bed itself was a junktiques find, which Gregory painted a muted, grey-green and added gilded accents.
IT’S ALL IN THE MIX.
Hudgins, who is known equally for his interior design and event planning prowess, finds entertaining is a natural in his new home. “The flow of traffic during a party is effortless, despite the lack of square footage. Hallways are generous, and double French doors lead gracefully from the dining room into the den. A pair of arched doors lead from the den to the outdoor veranda with its original terracotta tile. The latest cool weather allows Gregory and friends to cozy up to the firepit and plan their next adventures.
In the den, Gregory’s eponymous style is fully on display with Art Deco and Louis XIV forms mixed with mid-century Modern and Contemporary accents. Between the two arched doors, the English Deco secretary is filled with well-curated objects and favorite books. A corner bar is created using an armoire sourced from Traditions. Additonal bottles and glassware are housed in an antique “dollhouse” which tops the armoire. Hudgins is known for his ability to find unique storage and make it chic. Vintage Century chairs are covered in a bold, striped Duralee fabric. Gregory’s collection of vinyl records finds its place in a mid-century Modern buffet. The artfully stacked Saarinen bookcase was found at a junk store in Texas. A Belgian tapestry reinforces the chateau-like vibe and hangs above a breakfast nook.
If the den is the heart of the Herbert Land/Hudgins House’s public spaces, then the dining room is the soul. Chippendale chairs and a newly acquired French trestle table take their inspiration from coastal French cottages. “I used the natural and raw wood, yet we still have beautiful Louis XIV forms, just not gilded. The French marble topped console was a piece I purchased from Nick McKinney, who now has a shop in El Dorado,” says Gregory. Atop the console are a pair of Barry Dixon dragon lamps, a German silver and French brass embellished box and a pair of French cartouche candlesticks. An ebonized and gilded, arched mirror and pair of German silver ramshead sconces from Munich add luminosity to the dining room corner along with a work on paper by noted artist Meredith Pardue.
Directly upstairs, the tub and shower walls are lined with white subway tiles with hexagon tile accents sourced from Lowe’s. A ledge and pony wall of marble create a spa-like atmosphere.
On either side of the master bed, Chinoiserie cabinets, commissioned paintings by Doug Kennedy, and traditional lighting create beautiful vignettes. A ‘King’ Fantasy chair, whose matching ‘Queen’ is located downstairs in the den, was a find from Cure in New York City. The upstairs hall and bedroom walls are painted Farrow and Ball’s “Slipper Satin,” a charming, creamy white that flatters all skin tones.
Just down the hall, Gregory’s home office is a study in organization and creativity. The designer added custom built-ins and included a coffee and wine station for entertaining clients. The office walls are painted Farrow and Ball’s “Pigeon.” The home’s laundry room was located next to the bath and features a state-of-the-art stacked washer and dryer for the ultimate of convenience. An Adam Davenport oil painting, “Tears and Taxes,” and an antique map from the 1600s hang near Hudgin’s desk.
Just down the hall, Gregory’s home office is a study in organization and creativity. The designer added custom built-ins and included a coffee and wine station for entertaining clients. The office walls are painted Farrow and Ball’s “Pigeon.” The home’s laundry room is located next to the bath and features a state-of-the-art stacked washer and dryer for the ultimate in convenience. An Adam Davenport oil painting, “Tears and Taxes,” and an antique map from the 1600s hang near Hudgin’s desk.
ART IS ESSENTIAL.
If you know Gregory, you’ll know that not only has he been active in the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council for many years, but has been an avid arts supporter and collector, serving currently as President of the Twin City Art Foundation/Masur Museum of Art. Gregory’s art collection includes a large rhinoceros painting by Lissy Sanders Compton, which hangs in the foyer. The den features work by Gaeb Cardinale, Meredith Pardue, Adam Davenport, John Jude Palencor, and a large, Surrealist oil by Ghislain Fernando that Hudgins secured at a Belgian art auction. In the corner hangs a Coroli bought in Florence in addition to three glass mask sconces from Paraguay, one of Gregory’s remembrances from Inside Indigo.
TIME KEEPS ON TICKING.
What you may not know about Gregory is his love of time-keeping mechanisms, otherwise known as clocks or watches. “I’m a clock fanatic,” he says of his obsession. His collection includes a Seth Thomas turn of the century clock, a 421 day clock made in West Berlin in the 1970s, an adorable mechanical cuckoo clock made by Italian company Pintaloni in a surrealist manner, and an atomic clock that makes science geeks swoon.
Gregory Hudgins is a Louisiana Tech alumni, whose next projects include the interiors for a new restaurant by Chef Cory Bahr, tons of weddings and a several interior design projects from here to Naples, Florida and beyond. His motto is “to maximize the inherent beauty found in our daily lives. It is my goal to make each home and space customized to fit each individual client or project. My focus is on the individual and how I can help him or her achieve a beautiful, healthy, organized and livable environment.” Past projects and incredibly creative floral arrangements by Hudgins have been frequently featured on the pages of BayouLife.