A peek inside the home Interior Designer Sara Ruffin Costello’s striking and Stylish Home
Location: New Orlean’s Garden District
The sculpture stand holding the bust “was the first thing I bought in my life that cost something. It’s so impractical, and yet it’s been one of the great surprising moments in every room I’ve ever had.”
Sara kept the massive ornate mirror that came with the house and hung artwork—including spin art by designer Miles Redd and an old family portrait—floor to ceiling to help fill the incredibly high walls.
A balance of curvy and straight lines and a restrained palette unify a mix of modern pieces, Early American hand-me-downs from Sara’s parents, and two stern wing chairs.
Sara tried numerous rugs atop the jute flooring before settling on the pony skins, which offer an interesting shape. The family cat, Sparkly Darkly Doo, sits atop a vintage Robsjohn-Gibbings chair bought “back when you could find these things for a song.”
Stacked along the wall behind the couch, books are within reach and make a strong personal statement. “I love when you’re at someone’s house and you wind up poking though their bookshelves and seeing the stuff they’re reading.”
A kitchen island by Bulthaup provides tons of counter space and storage. “I can’t even tell you how miraculous it is.”
A neat grid of family photos (still in progress) hangs over the kitchen table, a “vintage ’90s” piece by fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester where the family eats all its meals. The plates are by Mottahedeh.
The butler’s pantry houses the liquor, neatly corralled. “I can’t say enough about trays. I want to open a store that sells nothing but trays. Look how much better these bottles look on a tray. If they were just sitting on the counter they would look so awkward.”
The original dining room is now “ping-pong central” unless it’s party time, when the table gets rolled away to make room for dancing or rented tables for sit-down dinners.
Illustrating her casual way with traditional pieces, Sara stores the ping-pong paddles in an ice bucket alongside an antique silver candlestick.
For the dining room Sara “gave a nod to New Orleans” with a pair of weathered antique French chairs, which she purposely did not reupholster. The curtain fabric is from Oscar de la Renta.
In the bedroom seating area, the gleaming white Eames chair and Noguchi lamp echo the bed’s pale geometry and modern feel. A Fornasetti table adds a bit of color.
Sara converted this former bedroom into a master bath, painted the walls a creamy mascarpone white, and covered the walls with family portraits and art. “Kitchens and bathrooms are great places to display things that are more personal.”
In a bedroom antechamber, a table by Thomas O’Brien displays a vintage knife holder (now used to store letters) and, adding a little levity, a vintage bust decked out in a hat and pearls. “I just have a thing for busts. When you’re lonely it’s like having some friends in the house.”