Home Tour: This Minimalist Home Is an Artist's Dream
"Natural light and natural charm”—the two principles that guided artist Hayley Gaberlavage and her husband, architect Benjamin Massey, as they renovated their late 19th century Victorian home in New Orleans' Lower Garden District. Life in the Big Easy played a key role in selecting and designing their home, particularly given Massey's extensive résumé renovating historic New Orleans houses. Balancing original architectural details with their own design styles and a heavy dose of casual southern charm, the couple created a home Gaberlavage describes as "clean and minimal with a touch of modern classics.” Ahead, a home chock-full of design inspo for creatives.
Massey and Gaberlavage designed the house with the kitchen as a focal point, wisely knowing it would be one of the most frequently utilized spaces in the home. White subway tile, a marble island, and green plants pop off gray walls for the perfect balance of bright and dark that allows the room to transition from sunny mornings to social evenings. "The marble island in the kitchen has become the central hub for our house," remarks Massey. "It is where we start our mornings, where we find ourselves sitting for most meals, and where friends gather for late-night dance parties."
Abundant natural light gives the entire home a bright, airy feeling. One pleasant surprise when renovating the home was discovering how the sunlight impacted the open spaces, in some cases through previously hidden windows. The architect remembers, "We would spend entire days in the empty house experiencing the way the sun moves through each space." Adds Gaberlavage, "In the end, it is lovely how the morning light greets us in the kitchen while we are enjoying coffee, then moves through the house, almost following us as we go on our daily routine, then retiring in the rear yard, as we so often do."
It’s no surprise that the creative duo is constantly collecting new furniture, décor, and accessories, with a particular penchant for mid-century pieces. Their secret to keeping their home simple and eclectic at the same time? Exercise restraint when layering different elements. "Each piece has a story," notes Gaberlavage. "We found that by using them in moderation, it allowed the objects to speak for themselves."
Inspired equally by the art world and the laid-back vibes of a city rooted in southern comfort, Massey and Gaberlavage kept the common areas of their home casual for a mixture of work, leisure, and entertaining friends. "We wanted to create a house that looks as simple and clean as a museum, but is very comfortable and has that welcoming aspect like grandmother’s house a Sunday afternoon," says Gaberlavage.
Against a bright white backdrop, the couple connected colors throughout each room between furniture, accessories, and art. Color palette choices reflect an underlying sense of minimalism combined with both Massey and Gaberlavage's unique styles. As a painter, Gaberlavage often uses her favorite colors in her work, and her decorating choices are no exception. "Hayley has a certain color palette composed of greens and blues that complement our chrome and wood furniture," notes Massey. "By keeping most of the walls and floors white, it allows the artwork and furniture to resonate throughout the space."
Massey and Gaberlavage used lots of plants and flowers add life to the entire home. According to the artist, among her paintings, "the plants serve as living pieces of art.” Massey adds, “Also, it doesn’t hurt that our favorite color is green."
Even taking into account the couple's collective expertise in architecture and design, renovating a historic home was no small feat, particularly knowing that Massey and Gaberlavage were designing spaces with themselves in mind. "The challenge was being the architect, designer, homeowner—and staying married," laughs Massey. "Needless to say, we passed the challenge."
Given that their home is such a unique reflection of both their personalities and creative pursuits, it’s easy to see why Massey and Gaberlavage love where they live. "The house is a culmination of how we live our lives,” says Massey. “We still love waking up each day and taking the house in all over again,” gushes Gaberlavage.
The minimal nature of Gaberlavage’s studio space is tailor-made to allow the personalities in her portraits to shine through. Consistent with their approach to abundant greenery throughout the interior, the couple created a vibrant outdoor space with a dual purpose in mind. "It was important that we created a serene green haven that she could enjoy viewing while she paints,” says Massey. “The lush backyard has also become a favorite place of retreat, not only for us but for our friends as well."
Naturally, establishing the right mood for the artistic process was a top priority for the home, not just the studio. "We wanted every space in the house to inspire and spark creativity," says the artist, which is a great goal to set for any home.