by Anne Honeywell, photos by Sara Essex Bradley
ECLECTIC HOME EMBODIES its namesake: elements from a variety of resources, systems and styles. Owner and principal designer Penny Francis and her daughter, Casi Francis St. Julian, carry the namesake through each and every design project with their Hammond project being a prime example.
“Together we approach projects by first understanding the client, their environment and how they live to create spaces that are truly a reflection of them,” says Penny.
A member of both ASID and IIDA, Penny opened Eclectic Home in New Orleans in 2000 to fill a huge void of diverse home products in this market and to help showcase her unique style. Casi works alongside her mother as a senior designer. Casi is also a lover of the world of interiors. She is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design with a BFA in Interior Design.
I sat down with Penny and Casi for a little Q and A on Interior Design.
IN: What sets you apart as designers?
EH: Though formal, traditional décor tends to be the norm in New Orleans, the city’s diverse mixture of cultures and styles support our design philosophy. We have an appreciation for the architecture and history, but our décor doesn’t have to all be from one period or style. We juxtapose styles in a way that they come together looking collected and curated.
IN: Who was the first interior designer to make an impression on you?
EH: Dorothy Draper. I am still very obsessed with black and white checker-board floors, which she was known for amongst so many other forward-thinking combinations of color, pattern and texture.
The first designer to make an impression on Casi is Kelly Wearstler. She pushes the envelope and explores using unexpected materials and combinations.
IN: What are some of the things that influence you, aside from furniture and décor?
EH: Inspiration is everywhere. The smallest things can be inspiring, like a vintage necklace recently, the handle design of an old hair brush or shadows cast from trees. Being present, paying attention to the world around you will provide inspiration.
IN: What would you tell someone who doesn’t have a big budget?
EH: For customers who don’t have a big budget, we always recommend painting a room. Paint is the smallest investment with the greatest amount of return. Also, new throw pillows or rug and layers of lighting with new lamps or chandelier are all small, relatively inexpensive changes that offer big impact. Reupholstering accent chairs can make a huge difference. It can often times be unrecognizable. Restyling bookcases and your collectables also have a great effect, and there is no cost in doing that.
IN: Is there a favorite room you have designed?
EH: Yes, most recently we designed a living room for a cottage in the French Quarter. The client downsized and had a great deal of art and furnishings. The challenge was editing those pieces while replacing others and not having a room that was cluttered or looking like a showroom. The mix of vintage and antiques from mid-century to neo-classic makes for an amazing space. It’s rich in color and interior architecture. The result is a sophisticated, functional, curated room that takes my breath away.
IN: What is one thing in modern interior design that you deplore?
EH: The same look over and over again. When that is done, clients tire of it more quickly and spend more time and money starting over because there is no originality.
IN: Is there something you will never, ever do when it comes to interior design—something you always avoid?
EH: Copying a room from the internet. Social media is wonderful for inspiration but not imitation. Interiors should be a reflection of the homeowner.
IN: What colors do you use the most?
EH: Taupe, gray, black, white, shades of blue.
IN: Favorite materials or textures?
EH: Wall coverings with texture as well as modern takes on classic designs that are somewhat over scaled.
IN: Favorite interior design-related word?
IN: What qualities do you admire most in a room?
EH: We love rooms that have a diverse collection of furnishings and design elements, such as color or pattern that bring it all together. We love one unexpected piece as well as not knowing where to look first because it’s all just so delicious…
IN: Design rule you love to break?
EH: None. We approach each job with open minds just waiting to explore using new materials and resources available to us.
IN: What is your favorite room in the house?
EH: Bedrooms. They are sanctuaries. A place to retire and revive.
IN: What is your most treasured possession?
EH: A pair of antique Czech cut-glass decanters from my grandmother that I had always admired. She would have beautiful Thanksgiving dinners where she would use them. They were from her grandmother and special to her as well.
IN: And Casi?
EH: A self-portrait of artist John Scott.
IN: Any final words, Penny?
EH: “At Eclectic Home, we pride ourselves on exploring new materials that are otherwise unavailable to see how they can evolve in a space. The store explains my point of view as a designer and allows me to showcase what I truly am—eclectic!”