A Storybook Home
Living happily ever after has never looked so enchanting
Like Aladdin’s caves, the exterior of the house off Veterans Boulevard, gives no hint of the glitter, treasures and full-blown glamour beyond the somewhat simple doorway.
That front door opens onto a highly polished marble foyer, a French chandelier, a Venetian mirror, hand-painted wallpaper, labor-intensive silver gilt applied to the molding that wraps around high ceilings and a hint of a view at the alfresco entertaining areas in what was formally a backyard.
Like other houses in the area, Patti Fischer and Laurie Labruzzo’s home had about two feet of water after Katrina and Rita. That was two feet less than the other property they owned, so they decided to create their fantasy home here.
Patti, the founding partner of Fischer-Gambino stores, and Laurie, who joined her in 1999 to open the Metairie location, have access to a wide array of furniture, new, old, custom and off-the-floor; carpets, from Aubusson and Agra; and accessories, from small cake stands to massive chandeliers. Both love to entertain and envisioned a house where Old World formality meets
New Age comforts. Every room on the ground floor has been created to handle large numbers of people yet not overwhelm a party of two on a casual night in. Areas flow from the large family room to the kitchen to the dining room to the outdoor areas. The kitchen, with state-of-the-art Viking appliances, including a cobalt-blue enamel stove that sets off the blue mottling of the Sodalite countertops, opens onto a bar area. It opens to an informal dining area and moves into the great room. There an Italian console doubles as a storage and dessert station, wood cabinets set with lights hold glassware above a marble-top wet bar that often serves as a martini bar. The fireplace is flanked by a wall of copper with mirrors behind shelving for votive candles, creating an intimate conversation area.
Toward the front of the house is a media room where the chocolate walls have been hand-washed with copper by Becky Ferguson, the artist responsible for the wall and molding treatments throughout the house. Large dark furniture faces a huge TV-media area, and a comfy chaise sits near the window for reading. But for tonight, there will be only background music coming from the media room.
The star spot of the evening is the glittering, festively set, dining room table. A holiday party is in the offing and what a way to celebrate! A zebra-stamped cowhide, usually meant for the floor, has been placed on the table along with fine cranberry-colored cut crystal, gleaming flatware, square silver chargers, gold platters, vintage candlesticks, and specially selected china. It all sits below a plume-like Russian-inspired French chandelier. Surrounding the table are pale leather chairs, which seem to be modern, comfortable takes on Russian sleigh chairs.
The handsome sideboard has been decorated for the evening with apples and roses. Guests will feast on the lavish spread prepared by restaurateur-caterer Glen Hogh of Vega Tapas Café, one of their favorite party resources. It will be matched with wines from the couple’s cellar—tonight an extraordinary Bordeaux and an abundance of Champagne.
If the weather holds, Champagne and laughter may spill out to the oasisinspired group of decks, pools and seating areas behind the house. Hundreds of intense-blue hand-painted tiles have been set into flowing, curved concrete to create a labyrinthine series of places to walk, sit, stand, swim and even watch an outdoor flat-screen TV. Blooming bougainvillea drips from strategically placed pots, while bushes, palms, greenery and flowering plants are carefully landscaped into the area, taking visitors on a magic carpet ride.
It’s a surprise to learn that Patti and Laurie, plus number-one canine Melanie, moved in hardly a year ago. Their house is new, yes, but so much is Old World in feeling, especially when all decked out for the holidays.