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A Louisiana State of Mind

| June 1, 2010


Kelly and Matt Malatesta need look no further than their familiar stomping ground in Louisiana to find inspiration for their home. “I’m pretty much crazy about all things Louisiana,” says Kelly, who met her husband while the two attended Louisiana State University. “The architectural look there is just so warm… the old brick and wood, the wide-plank floors. It’s the type of detail I really love.”

With this in mind, it wasn’t hard for the Malatestas to forge their vision for a family home. Built by Meyer & Leigh, the 4,300-square-foot residence combines the beautiful historic flavor of Louisiana with the comfort of modern living. It’s the perfect abode for this busy family of five. And Kelly is the hands-on decorative force behind its southern charm.

“I love to decorate and find things myself,” she says. “It’s great to find the perfect antiques and the hunt is more fun than anything. You just know when something is the right fit for the right space.”

The couple originally lived in a home they built. But the 2,000-square-foot house wasn’t up to the task if the family was to grow. The search was on.

Kelly found a floorplan in Southern Living magazine that piqued her interest. “It was a little different than this, so we just modified it a bit, tweaked it. There was a bedroom where Matt’s office is, so that was a change that worked better for us. The plan as we built it gave us the space and room configurations we needed.”

That office is well used these days, thanks to Matt’s busy job managing the Houston area VYPE high school sports magazine. While he has an off-site office, this home space reflects his passion through a myriad of sports memorabilia (LSU front and center) on his desk, walls and, yes, floor. Stacks of VYPE covering every aspect of high school sports and its latest up-and-coming stars are at his fingertips. “My office always looks like this,” Matt says. “Writing and sports are his passion,” interjects Kelly.

Kelly, a mortgage banker, has her passion too. “I’m a house junkie. I guess you’d say I’m a little obsessed with houses,” she says. “I love driving around and looking at them. And I love making our’s look the way I want it to by finding different accessories and furniture. I guess I’m very particular.”

Matt and Kelly both have family in Louisiana and enjoy LSU football, so there’s always an excuse to go back and do a little shopping. Kelly has her favorite haunts and tries to frequent them two or three times a year. The result is a warm and inviting home anchored by timeworn antiques and comfortable, streamlined upholstered pieces in varying textures that add interest to the spaces.

They purposely excluded a formal living area when designing the home, seeing it as wasted space. “Growing up, my parents had a formal living room and I remember the only time we went in there was at Christmas. We had our tree in there but not where you really sat and enjoyed it,” she recalls. “I didn’t want that situation here. We wanted to use all of the rooms.”

Indeed, their den is family central, anchored by time-honored Louisiana antiques on either side of the fireplace and a round-out of comfortable upholstered sofas and a pair of cosmopolitan chairs from Lee Industries, ordered from Laurie’s Antiques. “I didn’t want that overscaled, overstuffed look. I wanted things on a smaller scale,” Kelly says of her choices.

Beautiful wide-plank pine sweeps through the house, meeting with a distinct New Orleans-style kitchen in Old Chicago brick flooring that carries through to a small hallway and utility room.

An especially sentimental piece takes up residence in the breakfast room—a pie safe that once belonged to Kelly’s grandmother. Watermarks on its legs tell its history. “Long ago, they used to put the legs in water to keep ants from coming up and eating the pies,” Kelly says. It shares space with table and chairs from Laurie’s Antiques.

This home is all about letting the outdoors in with a bank of French doors lining the back wall of the breakfast room and den. A voluminous yard with a New Orleans-style courtyard flanks a streamlined pool awash in fountains. About 2,200 square feet of slate are underfoot, adding contrast to Old Chicago brick courtyard walls.

“We love the old antique brick. Louisiana is big in using it and we wanted that look here—the sloppy, not so precise type of mortar, the timeworn look,” Kelly explains.

The front of the home is also done in Old Chicago brick, meeting with stucco for a soft effect. Visitors to the home appreciate a large front porch. Once in, a spacious foyer leads to Matt’s office on the right and formal dining room to the left. The dining room is especially lovely with dark walls that contrast with white shutters. A custom-made glasstop table with iron base adds balance to a small antique side table that sits window-side. French doors lead to a courtyard.

The master bedroom off of the den is a cozy retreat in warm colors and features a stunning four-poster bed. The older sister and brother, twin 11-year-olds, each has a bedroom upstairs, as does their 5-year-old sister. The eldest girl’s room is a modern theme of charcoal gray and white with a large tin from the Round Top Antique Fair acting as a shelf above her bed.

Their son’s room reflects his passion for sports with a myriad of memorabilia peppering the walls and other surfaces. And the 5-year-old daughter has the perfect princess room in soft blues and white.

An extra tucked away guest bedroom/exercise room is invaluable for sleepovers. Two sets of bunk beds are built into this space, assuring plenty of sleeping surfaces for their children’s friends or out-of-town visitors. “We keep our exercise equipment in there and if the room isn’t being used for sleeping purposes, we have the perfect place to do our workouts after the kids go to bed,” Kelly explains.

A large gameroom and study area round out the upstairs.

Overall, the home is a well thought-out reflection of the couple’s Louisiana sensibilities. “I come by it naturally,” says Kelly of her penchant for Creole-inspired décor. “I’m definitely a Louisiana girl.”

Old brick floors and gleaming granite countertops make for a New Orleans-style kitchen.

Here, a simple wooden chair looks charming at a built-in desk.

An antique pie safe in the breakfast room is a cherished piece that once belonged to Kelly’s grandmother.

The dining table was custom-made. The chairs came from Eklektik and were outfitted in a fabric that Kelly found.

A four-poster bed anchors the master bedroom, a cozy retreat in warm colors and wide-plank pine floors.

The eldest daughter’s room is modern chic in charcoal gray and white. The tin shelf came from the Round Top Antique Fair.

A grouping of colorful art by their eldest daughter adorns a wall in the study area upstairs.

Teak furniture from Thomas Baker looks great on the covered porch area outside of the den

The couple built an extra guest sleepover/exercise room that gets a lot of use. It’s great when the kids have sleepovers and guests visit and extra beds are needed.

The youngest daughter’s bedroom is perfection in blue and white.

The Malatestas’ son takes after his dad and sports memorabilia peppers the walls in his upstairs bedroom.

A streamlined pool awash in fountains is the centerpiece of the backyard, surrounded by a sweep of slate. ˙

Coffee colored all-weather wicker furniture from Thomas Baker surrounds a firepit in the New Orleans-style courtyard with slate underfoot.

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