Eclectic Classic Glamour: High Style of the Garden House at the Southern Hotel

Do you like an eclectic classic glamour style for an interior space?  I don’t mean a mash-up of a whole lot of different stuff that creates a cluttered hot-mess of a design.  I’m referring to an eclectic style filled with panache, elegance, grace, class, polish, and charm that’s mixed with luxuriousness, grandeur, comfort, and that special kind of lagniappe that can only be found in the high style suites of the Garden House, a recent addition to the historic-boutique Southern Hotel in the old downtown area of Covington, Louisiana.

Southern Hotel sign, eclectic classic glamour interiors; photo by Patricia Shutts Spicuzza

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Boston Street sign, eclectic garden inspired interiors

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, old entry, private terrace, eclectic interiors

Before I show you these beautifully curated and eclectic suites, let me tell you a little background about this interesting old edifice that has a priceless piece of American art history inside.  Originally built in 1937 as a United States Post Office facility, the Colonial Revival style building, located at 406 E. Boston Street, was acquired by the St. Tammany Parish School Board during the 1960’s and then later renovated in 1985 when it became an annex for the STPSB.

Old Building Plaque - STPSB Covington Annex; Southern Hotel Garden House, eclectic interiors

In 1996, I moved to the Northshore area to work for the local architecture firm that, coincidentally, had led this 1985 renovation project.  Ironically, I was assigned to work on one of their architectural design projects – an interior renovation of a parish administrative office lease space housed within the old Southern Hotel building.  Even though I wasn’t familiar with all the eclectic history of the building, originally built in 1907, there was just something fascinating and special about it to me.  Years later, the old hotel building became unoccupied and sat vacant for so very long.  That was until 2011, when Lisa Condrey Ward, along with her husband, Joe, and their business partners, became the new owners of that historic treasure of a building and breathed new life into it with an amazing renovation, completed in 2014 when it reopened, that landed it in the prestigious collection of Historic Hotels of America.

Tiles - Covington Historic Site; Historic Hotel; Southern Hotel; Garden House; eclectic interior

In early 2017, the School Board decided to auction off the old annex building after declaring it surplus, and the owners of the Southern Hotel were absolutely delighted to purchase it.  The historic post office building sits on land originally owned and used by the hotel as rose gardens and tennis courts for leisure and relaxation by its guests.  That’s how the owners came up with the name ‘Garden House’ for the repurposed annex of the remarkable boutique hotel.  The two building structures share the historic city block between Vermont Street and New Hampshire Street, with the original area referred to as Ox Lot 9 (the name appropriately bestowed on their notable house restaurant).

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Ox Lot 9, located in historic Covington, LA; eclectic interiors

As soon as I’d heard that the old Post Office building had been purchased so the Southern Hotel could expand its footprint by repurposing and renovating it into additional suites, I knew it was going to be something very special!

The Garden House - Southern Hotel sign; eclectic classic glamour interiors

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Entry Gate from parking area; lush garden; eclectic interiors

Led by owner Lisa Condrey Ward, along with local historic preservation architect, Alton Ochsner Davis, of Pascal Architects, LLC, and Striker Construction, the extensive year-long renovations were completed in June 2018.  With its lush outdoor gardens suitable for south Louisiana’s subtropical climate, the interiors were tailored with a 1930’s era Dorothy Draper-inspired decorating flair that has a perfectly curated eclectic mix of old and new furniture, lavish décor, and colorful art befitting this welcoming, inviting Southern style ‘Garden House’.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, giant pink flower greets guests during ribbon cutting; eclectic

Garden House of Southern Hotel, first look into the lush garden toward new entrance; eclectic

Garden House of Southern Hotel, lush garden, brick walkways, white wrought iron bench, eclectic

Within the building, what was once open space mail-sorting rooms, are now an eclectic group of well-appointed luxury hotel suites, including a small conference room and sitting area that overlooks a lush garden area.  Several original architectural details and highlights within the building were retained, refurbished, and restored, such as a wind-stopper vestibule, a basement (that’s rarely seen in south Louisiana), terrazzo floors, a vaulted postal safe’s door (in the new conference room), wood floors, terracotta wall tiles, and a magnificent 1939 WPA mural, considered to be this building’s ‘star feature’, and tells an interesting and inspirational local story.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, mural by artist Xavier Gonzalez, eclectic

The arrival of the Great Depression in Louisiana during the 1930’s left many local men without work, and unemployment in this area soared.  While times were tough and uncertain, to help people by providing them with work, the Federal Government started a national recovery program along with several public projects, which included financing the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration (commonly known as the WPA) Treasury Departments Arts Programs.

WPA stamped into concrete, 1930's era; Art Deco; photo by Patricia Shutts Spicuzza

The intention for these public art projects was to give local unemployed artists work and to have public buildings embellished with works of art that would lift the somber moods of the local people during that terribly dismal time.  The job of the artist was to show an eclectic group of regular people engaged in an activity relevant to their local community.  One of these Depression-era WPA commissioned public art projects was this now-preserved mural, called ‘Tung Oil Industry’, by renowned Spanish-American artist Xavier Gonzalez, who was an Art School instructor at Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans, and also created the murals at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport‘s terminal building.  It illustrates the evolution of this Gulf Coast regional industry within St. Tammany Parish.  He painted himself in the mural (he’s the man carrying a sack of harvested tung oil seed pods over his shoulder).  Also, in the mural, he painted his wife, Ethel Edwards (she’s wearing a blue blouse and pouring clean water onto the roots of the tung oil tree being planted by the two gentlemen) next to the beautiful springtime pink-hued tung blossoms.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Mural Detail, eclectic interior space

The inspiring local story being told in the historic mural begins with imagery portraying the aftermath and despair from extensive logging and basically stripping the area of its most commercial tree species, the longleaf yellow pines.  Because that left large acreages of cut-over timberlands that became unsustainable and virtual stump scapes at the time, the introduction of the Tung Oil industry developed into a huge and profitable trade for this southeast Louisiana area near the Gulf Coast. During the Great Depression, the Money Hill Tung Plantation in St. Tammany Parish was established.  Tung Oil* is derived from the tung nut, and is an ingredient used in paints, furniture polishes, sealants, stains, varnishes, waterproofing coatings, and applied as a wood finishing oil on cabinetry, floors, doors, bowls, cutting boards, and furniture.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Antique Armoire, eclectic interiors

The abundant rivers, bayous, streams, lakes, and natural springs of this area had reputations for being pure and restorative, and, prior to the Depression era, many visitors from New Orleans and the surrounding region came for a vacation and to relax in the country. With the advent of the Tung Oil industry in this area came lifted spirits, hope, and a strong resolve to create a better and fulfilling lifestyle in Covington and around St. Tammany Parish.  The inspirational 14’ wide by 4’ high restored mural sits above a refurbished door casing (for the door that once opened into the Postmaster’s office) located in the splendidly appointed eclectic space now bestowed with the moniker ‘Xavier Gonzales Suite’.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Sitting Area and Sleeping Space, eclectic

The furniture and furnishings in this suite are an eclectic mix of different styles and periods, but they all work beautifully together for a pleasantly cohesive look and relaxing feel.  The tranquil sleeping area is composed of a hand-embossed bed in an antique bronze metallic finish with a hint of ancient grandeur, luxurious linens with a Southern monogrammed Euro pillow, a lovely Louis XV style nightstand with an Industrial style lamp, and a tailored kick pleated valence with a geometric patterned decorative trim complimenting a cartridge pleated drapery behind the headboard.

Garden House, Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Hand-embossed Bed, Anthropologie, eclectic

The comfortable sitting area has a cool, calm, and collected feel with a Moroccan style camel-back Knole sofa, a garden style wrought iron end table with a glass top, and a vintage mirrored-top coffee table with a black painted base with gold-leaf accents that gives a New Orleans Northshore nod to Dorothy Draper’s infamous eclectic twist on the 1930’s-era Hollywood Regency style.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Sitting Area with Knole Sofa, eclectic

The dark finish color of the twisted wrought iron candlestick chandeliers* has a light and airy feel that works well with the original dark stained wood wind-stopper transition space that’s been transformed into a wet bar with a coffee counter.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, Wet Bar in Wind-Stopper, eclectic space

The well-suited subtropical gardens were designed by John Mayronne, noted local landscape architect and one of Louisiana’s foremost native plant experts.  This outdoor transition space between these two historic buildings ties them together with thriving and in-the-pink greenery, reminiscent of an old courtyard in the French Quarter.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, walking path to new entrance; eclectic interiors

Garden House of Southern Hotel, lush garden, potted plants, brick walkway; eclectic interiors

Garden House of Southern Hotel, lush garden with potted flowering hibiscus shrub

Pink Hibiscus plant; nature's color scheme; pink and green; photo by Patricia Shutts Spicuzza

In a colorful and highly fashionable way, the hallways between the eclectic group of luxury suites draw in the lush outdoors just beyond the entrance doors – a bright and bold Dorothy Draper-inspired garden theme with a Hollywood Regency flair that includes a nod to her signature style with framed panels of her famous banana leaf wallpaper*, as reflected in a large Chinoiserie-style mirror.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Hallway, eclectic classic glamour, Dorothy Draper wallpaper

The relaxing sitting area, that was once a loading dock for the Old Post Office, now carries the garden theme into this space through the large windows overlooking the outdoor courtyard with signature Dorothy Draper décor features.  The impressive quaint area is tastefully decorated with bamboo trellis wallpaper*, a gallery wall of vintage floral prints, wrought iron patio seating, black and white floor tiles, antique urns filled with boxwood globes, and beautiful artwork reflecting the bright colors outside.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Sitting Area, eclectic classic glamour, Dorothy Draper inspired

Speaking of beautiful artwork, an eclectic curated mix of original garden-themed art pieces can be found throughout each interior space, like this lovely en plein air painting by local artist, Peg Usner.

Garden House of Southern Hotel, hallway, original en plein air painting by Peg Usner, eclectic interiors

A delightfully captivating garden-themed mural wallpaper, named ‘Nightfall on the Moor’, created by local artist, Rebecca Rebouche’, for Anthropologie, is featured in the Lily Conference Room of the Garden House.  It’s an enchanting space where dinner parties, business meetings, bridal showers, and other intimate gatherings can be held.  It’s also the room that contains the door of the old historic building’s original vaulted postal safe.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Lily Conference Room, eclectic classic glamour

The individual suites of the Garden House are an eclectic collection of interior designs filled with decorative design elements, fine artwork, a mix of new and vintage furnishings, and exquisite architectural detailing.  Each suite has its own unique inviting setting, and no detail has been overlooked for your comfort.

No room can be called perfect unless it has real comfort. - Dorothy Draper, quote; Garden House at Southern Hotel; eclectic classic glamour; interior design

5 Luxury Hotel Suites filled with Eclectic Classic Glamour

If staying in a chic historic hotel with a uniquely eclectic ambiance is your idea of a dream getaway, or if you’re in need of design inspiration for your home, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy checking into each of these perfectly appointed and comfortable suites found only in the Garden House at the Southern Hotel.

Xavier Gonzales Suite – this space has a Bohemian Chic feel with a comfortable and cozy blending of diverse textures and globally inspired cultures, styles, and designs that work together to create a uniquely personal theme and eclectic look.  The inspiring historic ‘Tung Oil Industry’ mural was restored by Elise Grenier, of Grenier Conservation, LLC, whose conservation projects include the Lakefront Airport murals.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Xavier Gonzales Suite, eclectic classic glamourPostmaster’s Suite – previously the office held by this old postal building’s highest official, this eclectic space has been transformed into a restful and peaceful place that exudes beauty and grace with a subtle French Art Nouveau look filled with Southern-style eloquence.  Artwork by Covington photographic artist Harriet Blum can be found in this suite.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Postmaster's Suite, eclectic classic glamour

Palm Suite – this space has an easy breezy flair of a Southern French Quarter courtyard, with a fantabulous eclectic mix of Boho Chic, French Country, Coastal Cottage, Modern Classic, and Hollywood Regency, combined and highly styled to such comfortable perfection and witty sophistication that both Dorothy Draper and Blanche Devereaux would give their nods of approval.  A framed piece by Covington artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez hangs on the wall alongside a whimsical monkey hanging lamp*, designed in Italy by Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba for Seletti.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Palm Suite, eclectic classic glamour, Dorothy Draper inspired

Dragonfly Suite – this space has a Global Bazaar feel after being transformed into a light an airy place filled with an eclectic mix of French Hollywood Regency, Chinese Chippendale, and Coastal Cottage, creating a comfortable Southern style atmosphere to connect with nature’s joie de vivre.  This delightful suite features art pieces from Mandeville artists Peg Usner and Jan Dicks, whose prints of sunglasses hang above the sofa, along with a blue wing dragonfly sculpture by artist Kelly Guidry of Breaux Bridge, LA.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Dragonfly Suite, eclectic classic glamour

Hibiscus Suite – this brightly colored welcoming space has a Boho Chic vibe filled with delicate beauty and an eclectic mix of Modern Classic, Coastal Cottage, Hollywood Regency, and Refined Farmhouse, fashioning a relaxed and charming environment with a sophisticated Southern touch.  This suite features two inspiring floral wallpapers by surface pattern designer and illustrator, Abigail Borg.

Garden House at Southern Hotel, Hibiscus Suite, eclectic classic glamour

Shop the Look – Eclectic Classic Glamour:

Just an FYI y’all… the link to my Etsy Favorites List, “Eclectic Classic Glamour”, and some links on my Pinterest Board, “Eclectic Décor at Home”, are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase.

A little lagniappe for those of you who want to know how to get the look of these inspiring eclectic spaces for your home’s living room or bedroom, I’ve put together a helpful round-up mix of high with low, and old with new furniture, furnishings, lighting fixtures, finish materials, accessories, décor, and art from various resources for you to shop on my Etsy Favorites List, “Eclectic Classic Glamour”, and my Pinterest Board, “Eclectic Décor at Home”.  There are lots of styles and appropriately priced items to peruse and consider, including Hollywood Regency, Modern Classic, Boho Chic, French Art Nouveau, Vintage, Coastal Cottage, Art Deco, French Provincial, Modern Baroque, Neoclassical, Farmhouse, Global Bazaar, Rustic Lodge, Industrial Loft, Casual Tropical, French Country, and many other Louisiana cultural luxuries to choose from for you to create an eclectic mix of comfortable perfection with casual elegance reflecting your own collected unique style.

Pink Ginger plant; nature's color scheme; pink and green; photo by Patricia Shutts Spicuzza

Not long after the Southern Hotel celebrated its first anniversary, Luke and I celebrated our birthdays by going on a ‘staycation’ there for a few days.  And let me tell you, it was fantabulous!  We’ve been talking about taking another short local vacay there, and we’re trying to decide which ‘Garden House’ suite filled with an eclectic classic glamour that we’ll request for our little get-away.  Which would you choose?  Do tell!




Disclosure Note:  This is not a sponsored post.  The opinions are completely my own and based on my own experience.  Also, this post may contain affiliate links, marked with *, for your convenience and to assist with the maintenance of this site.