Alfords' collections give house a French connection
Pat Alford’s Cove Court home is the home of a collector.
Every room is filled with treasures from trips to Europe or items that have simply struck her fancy.
“I go and buy my things, and Jerad finds a place for them,” she said.
Jerad Gardemal, an interior designer, has worked with Alford for the past 18 years. The two met in 1990 on an LSU trip to Europe to study textiles and merchandising. Alford was pursuing a degree in merchandising at the time, and Gardemal was studying interior design.
Alford and her husband, Benny, moved into their home in 1998.
“Pat went from a very traditional home decorated in the 18th-century style to a more Louisiana and European style,” said Gardemal, a designer with Beth Claybourn Interiors. “She had heavy draperies in her last house, but this house is more open because the views are so beautiful.”
When the Alfords bought their newly built home not far from the Baton Rouge Country Club, it had no landscaping, “just dirt and a wood fence,” she said.
Over time, Michael Hopping and Pete Newton created a scene of native plants for the front, which overlooks a pond and fountain, and a patio and French parterre garden for the back.
The front entrance of the home leads to a great room, which is open to the dining room. The great room is decorated in neutral colors with fine antique furniture in dark woods anchoring comfortable seating.
A large walnut linen press handmade in England was specially designed to fit on one side of the fireplace. On the other side is an 18th century French buffet, considered the finest piece in Alford’s collection. The living room mantel is centered with an antique clock from Benny Alford’s father, who had a large clock collection.
The large windows are framed with wide molding, which is used in place of draperies to complement the views of the beautiful landscaping on the private, gated street.
The dining room, which originally was decorated formally, now has more Tuscan-style accessories that work well with the large walnut table and chairs.
“Accessories make a huge difference,” Gardemal said. “People don’t give them the credit, but they are very important.”
The kitchen, with windows that give a view of the back patio, continues the theme of rich woods with its dark cabinets. Even the adjoining laundry room is filled with fine paintings and accessories.
Upstairs is Pat Alford’s sanctuary — her study and a new project, her Coco Chanel room. For many years, Alford has been interested in the famous designer and did her senior paper for her LSU degree on Chanel.
Benny Alford is a big-game hunter, and the room was originally filled with trophies from his hunting trips around the world.
“Jerad and I hate all those beasts,” said Pat Alford with a laugh, so they found another location for the trophies in a separate building and commandeered the room. In place of the animals, the room is now filled with framed limited-edition Chanel scarves, books, pictures and even a Chanel lamp.
Alford and Gardemal really enjoy working together.
“She loves everything,” said Gardemal. “She has a tremendous appreciation for the interior design profession and beautiful things.”
It is important to Alford to understand Gardemal’s recommendations. “I love it that when he sells me a piece he gives me the history,” she said.
Gardemal believes clients need to know why a designer makes a particular recommendation.
“It’s your job as the designer to explain your concept,” he said.
And Alford’s penchant for collecting makes his job enjoyable, he said.
“She doesn’t pick up souvenirs from the airport,” Gardemal said with a laugh. “She buys the real thing.”