If you talk about The House On Esplanade, people know it once belonged to a monumental party girl and hostess by name of Germaine Welles, who presided as queen over an unprecedented 22 Carnival balls. Her capacity for alcohol, celebration, and men is legendary (and she was the daughter of "Count" Arnaud Casenave, founder of Arnaud's restaurant in The French Quarter). It was also the mansion that was once star-producer Daniel Lanois’ Kingsway studio where Bob Dylan, Cowboy Mouth, Pearl Jam, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, and the Neville Brothers have recorded.
The actor Nicholas Cage purchased it in 2002 when he reigned as King of Bacchus during Carnival season. The latest owner is Sean Cummings, a visionary lover of New Orleans, who owns two hotels (The International House and Loft 523), and is very much involved with developing a 21st century New Orleans pre and post Katrina. He embodies New NOLA Style.
The House On Esplanade has a colorful history that is totally New Orleans.
The interior design inside the house reflects Sean's love of New Orleans, and the visual touchstones he uses in his very chic hotels
He had the help of Interior Designer, LM Pagano, a colorful character in her own right.
Pagano got her start as a jazz vocalist in her teens and by the age of 21, she was singing in all of the top L.A. clubs. With a background in art, she started designing shirts out of vintage fabrics (Bob Dylan was among her biggest clients). Then she delved into catering and became a personal chef to clients such as Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg. “After eight years I needed a break,” she confided. Through a mutual friend she heard that Nicholas Cage needed an assistant, and she landed the job on the spot.
Her road to becoming a designer was rather serendipitous. Cage dropped by Pagano’s house one afternoon and saw its décor and asked her to design his house in Bel Air. For the next eight years, Pagano worked for Cage exclusively as an in-house designer, then for the next six years as a free agent. She completed more than a dozen redesigns for Cage, six for family members, and did two of his yachts.
I tell you Pagano's story because the road to becoming an interior designer is not always paved with a cheesy ASID credential, if you know what I mean ha ha.
Since Sean bought the house from Cage, he also took on Pagano, who did the post Katrina refurbishing of his hotels for him. You will see recurring design choices from the hotels, translated into The House on Esplanade.
Sean is a modernist, and loves contemporary furnishings and art, and he also loves the old and crusty bits of New Orleans. When he does a project, both aesthetics coexist to excellent results.
The bathroom sleek fixtures he uses in the hotels...
This sexy little chair also resides in the lobby of Loft 523, his gem of a boutique hotel with only a dozen rooms.
The master bath has some of the old original fixtures, beautifully juxtaposed with modern elements.
The master bedroom is as chic as one of his hotel suites.
Needles to say, Sean Cummings collects modern art.
And he collects iconic contemporary furniture that is very much art on to itself.
All of it looks so fabulous in this old house with splendid original plaster moldings and ceiling medallions.
The show stopper piece is in the entrance hall, which has the original terrazzo floors.
Aside from the luxurious appointments, one of the most dramatic elements designer Pagano introduced was a 17-foot-long Swarovski cascade crystal chandelier in the foyer weighing around 2200 pounds. “We had it made in Austria,” Pagano says. “We ordered it and they sent two gentlemen for four days to build it. It’s a modern nod to the grand chandeliers of New Orleans."
I spy a fabulous black chair done by Mooi Design. The frame is actually burned to get the black color, and they call it The Smoke Chair. Leave it to Sean to have a couple!
The Smoke Chair from Mooi Designs HERE retails for around $13,000.
Sean is a bachelor, so of course there's a posh billiards room.
There's a sexy red sitting room, so very New Orleans.
Pagano says, “Sean is an elegant, aesthetic guy, so even though we imported old with new, the house could not be cluttered of feel antique-laden even though there are many found and vintage pieces as well. We are two people who are extraordinarily concerned with celebrating and honoring what is innately New Orleans and its jumble of historic influences, the religiosity, the constancy of crumbling elegance, the continuing musical legacy, the decadence, and the rituals.”
The same decadent red ottoman also appears in the lobby of The International House.
The signed print is 26" X 26" and sells for $800.
Here's another view of a parlor with those fabulous Mooi Smoke Chairs. And note the round piece for seating.
Pagano uses the same piece of furniture in a different upholstery in The Loa Bar in Sean's hotel The International House.
And speaking of bars, Sean has an intimate little bar in his home on Esplanade. It reminds me of Buenos Aires! On a personal note, Sean has been very good to us and the tango in New Orleans. We hosted a weekly class and dance for many years in the bar of his hotel Loft 523.