A place to collect
Stephen Black’s Jamestowne Court home is a blend of old and new. The open layout and neutral colors create a clean, modern look, while Black’s antiques and art recall the old.
“I call it a collection,” he said. “I have things I bought 30 years ago and things I bought a week ago.”
Black, who dressed some of the area’s most fashionable women in his boutique, Stephen Black LTD, is a trained artist whose aesthetic is evident both in the home and in its decor.
Everything centers around the large living room with 20-foot ceilings. When Black first moved in, the dining room was to the back of the living room. He made the old dining room his comfortable den, which opens to a lush courtyard.
The new dining room was originally a small sitting room off the modern kitchen.
“I don’t have large dinners,” Black said. “So this arrangement works perfectly for me.”
Black said he never intended to make Jamestowne Court his permanent home when he moved there from the Country Club of Louisiana 12 years ago. It was to be an interim residence while he built another home.
“It just so happened that all of my stuff looked good in here,” he said. “I love the location. I love having a guard at the entrance.”
Once Black made the commitment to stay, he began making changes.
For the stairway, which is a prominent feature in the living room, Black had metal artist Frank Land replace a wooden rail with a more contemporary one in wrought iron. Using heavy moldings, he coffered the flat ceiling to create sunken panels for a more interesting look.
The living room is filled with treasures including a Biedermeier secretary, one of the first pieces Black bought. It’s the perfect place to display his authentic ancient Grecian urn.
A large French bookcase, or bibliotheque, holds his collection of Chinese pots.
“I saw the collection in the flea market in Paris and bought it all,” he said.
Black frequently traveled to France to shop for antiques with his late partner, Ken McKay, a well-known local interior designer.
Paintings collected over decades hang throughout the home, including one wall where they are arranged from floor to ceiling.
“I think it creates a ‘salon feeling’ to have art hanging all the way up the walls,” he said.
One of his favorites is a huge map from an 18th-century war with tiny soldiers illustrated on horseback.
“I picked it because it was large and beige, my favorite color,” he said.
This is the third house Black has done with beige walls. “I like neutrals,” he explained.
Beautiful books are among Black’s most exhibited accessories.
“Books are so useful when decorating a room,” he said. “They warm things up.”
The den serves as the transitional space from the more formal living room to the French courtyard, which is planted with carefully trimmed boxwood and green plants in large pots. The plantings surround a limestone fountain Black brought back from France. There’s also a stone spire from a French chateau.
Black was born in Mobile, Alabama, and later lived in Charlotte, North Caroline. He is a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.
After college, he followed his parents, who had moved to Baton Rouge. He took a job was as a fashion illustrator at Goudchaux’s.
In 1983, he opened his store, then called Spear & Stephen. In 2012, he closed the shop to pursue other interests. He is now selling the Worth New York clothing line with Jenny Gray.
Looking for beautiful things is still one of Black’s interests, but he admits he has run out of space.
“I don’t buy a lot anymore,” he said. “I have more than I need, and I love what I have.”