Name: Mitchell Settoon and Thomas Ecker, Cleopatra (dog), and Damian (cat). Location: Mid-City, New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 15 years, owned
New Orleans is known for its laissez-faire culture. Anything goes, and every occasion is an excuse for a party. Mitchell Settoon and Thomas Ecker approach life — and homemaking — with the same easy spirit that characterizes the city they call home. As Mitchell explains: “I could wear a red sequined cocktail dress to my local grocery store; nobody would bat an eye. The only question would be ‘paper or plastic?’ I do hope my house has that same relaxed appeal.”
Mitchell and Thomas live in one half of a 1,700 square foot double shotgun house they own with Thomas’ twin brother Todd. Friends flock to the Mid-City home, which is furnished in a lively style they like to call “bougie boho.” It’s an artful mix of high and low brow design that combines inherited Mid-Century Modern pieces with cheeky artwork and thrift store finds, neutral slipcovered seating with daring paint colors and bold textiles. Mitchell, an artist and decorator who can sew just about anything, uses his skills to satisfy his need for change. He freshens rooms with fine faux finishes and the pillows, curtains and slipcovers he makes himself. Frequent out-of-town guests never know what they will find when they return for another visit.
Entertaining is a way of life for the fun-loving couple, and their home is designed with this in mind. An outdoor patio furnished with a melange of vintage signs, yard art, and colorful seating creates the perfect setting for the two big house parties they host every year, for the Endymion parade during Mardi Gras and the twins’ birthday in October. Formal dinners, spontaneous potlucks, brunches, and barbecues keep their home alive with laughter and good times.
Touches of humor and kitsch throughout the home create a light-hearted vibe and let visitors know they’ve entered a realm where nothing is sacred. “While I admire quiet, tasteful elegance, it's never been something to which I aspired,” explains Mitchell. “Nothing in this house is taken too seriously, or is too precious to use.”
Two large paintings in the living room, inspired by the graffiti found throughout the city during Hurricane Katrina, are evidence of this. One bears markings similar to those left behind by the National Guard as they searched houses for survivors. “I made the painting — using materials salvaged from our house — to have a reminder to never take things for granted; to realize how transitory life is.” The other, a play on words a store owner spray painted on his boarded windows, reads, “Don’t try. I’m sleeping inside with a crazy man, a bigass dog, a vicious cat and a pistol.” Mitchell says that it “demonstrates how to maintain your sense of humor, even in the worst of times... I've had some visitors find them a bit grim or off-putting, but I've always enjoyed gallows humor, and I do think it's important to remember dark days have as much importance in shaping you as the sunny ones.”
Editorial note to any readers who may find the Katrina-referencing artwork troubling: We recognize the complexity of the situation referenced and even our own small team viewing the images of the artwork produced a variety of responses. After discussion, we felt that because they are presented as integral to Thomas and Mitchell's experience, which they have chosen to reflect in their home, they should remain as part of the tour.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Bougie Boho. Bohemian, but with clean linens.
Inspiration: Bloomsbury Charleston farmhouse, Miles Redd Group
Favorite Element: That we use and enjoy every inch. Houses should be like the Velveteen Rabbit, loved and used. I hate going into a house with untouched, antiseptic rooms.
Biggest Challenge: Storage. All the rooms are small (12’x14’) with few closets. Not a single closet downstairs.
What Friends Say: “Can I have another glass of wine?” Joking aside, people like hanging out here.
Biggest Embarrassment: Life is too short to be embarrassed by décor. Besides, I used up my embarrassment quota on hair and wardrobe choices in the 90s.
Proudest DIY: The slipcover I sewed for the sofa.
Biggest Indulgence: A couple of pieces (two chairs and a bed) of Cisco Brothers upholstery.
Best Advice: Ignore trends, fashion, conventionality. Do what makes you happy.
Dream Sources: Magazine Street – using somebody else’s black AMEX.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- All Paint: Sherwin-Williams
- Living/Dining – Drizzle
- Hall/Stairwell – June Day
- Master – Riverway
- Kitchen – Invigorate
- Media Room – Palm Leaf (walls) Tupelo (trim)
- Guest Room – Pier
- Office – Natural Choice
- Doors – Turkish Coffee
- Front Door – Sassy Green
- Café Curtains fabric – fabric.com
- Fruit Panels – vintage
- Desk – Four Hands
- Shelves – Storehouse
- Light – Uttermost
- Lamp – Target
- Desk Fan – Restoration Hardware
- China/Bar (Deco Pieces) – vintage, bought from a friend
- Chair – thrift, I made quilt and slipcover
- Rolling File Cabinet – World Market
- Chairs – Lane
- Sofa – Todd Oldham at La-Z-Boy, I made the slipcover
- Lamps – vintage (the big brown lamp was from Maison Blanche)
- Rug – Tandy Leather (local)
- Coffee Table – Packing crate found in a shed on my father’s farm
- Side table cabinet – vintage
- Side Entry Table – I created from one of two drawers salvaged from my grandmother’s furniture lost in Katrina. One for me, the other for my sister Paula.
- Hi-Fi Stereo – vintage
- I made the pillows
- I made the shade over the front door and its side windows
- Table/Chairs – vintage, Renaissance Interiors
- Side Tables – vintage, from aunt, Ronnie Readman (a buyer for Maison Blanche)
- Metal Cart – found in pasture at father’s farm
- Painting over piano – gift
- Piano – Mine and my sister’s from childhood
- Rug – Ikea
- Curtains – vintage
- Lamps – vintage
- Metal Floor Lamp – street find
- Letters – Grandfather
- Frames – Hotel liquidator
- Stools –World Market
- Fabric –Hancock Fabric
- K&B graphics –original K&B posters
- Art over sink – Wedding present (local artist)
- Lemons – Kathy Rodriguez (local artist)
- Painted board – backdrop from a shoot
- Baker’s Rack – Pier1 Imports
- Rolling Island – gift
- Light Sconces – Urban Outfitters
- Headboard – original door to kitchen stripped
- Sconces – Pottery Barn
- Side Lamp – vintage
- Silver Eagle – gift from Thomas’ Frat brother from UAE
- Drapes – vintage
- Shades – World Market
- Painting over bed – gift from cousin
- I drew the art on the door, door from a neighbor after renovation
- Red End Table – vintage
- Dresser in closet – vintage (same set as with dining room side tables)
- Mirror – Pier1 Imports
- Mirror/Vanity/Vessel – Lowes
- Ironman Hooks – Restoration Hardware. So many pulls and knobs came from Lowes that I put my foot down and demanded something nice. These were they.
- Club Chairs – Cisco Brothers
- Rug – gift, Ikea
- Green Table – Bed, Bath & Beyond, I paint it to fit my mood on occasion
- Frames – from Thomas’ mother, Sharon
- MCM Wooden Panels – Thomas bought on a trip while visiting my sister Paula
- Lamp – vintage
- MCM Console – friend’s moving sale
- Chinese Console – Paul Michael Import
- Wing Chair – gift
- Orange Table – gift, I painted it orange. I begged for it.
- The Mantle – I faux marbled it
- Mia Farrow Print – Docklands CLT, bought on a trip to Charlotte, NC
- Flamenco Dancer Painting on mantle – Thomas’ mother painted
- Planter on Floor – vintage hanging lamp repurposed
- Green Hanging Lamp – vintage
- Circles inspired by Isuwannee blog
- Bed- Cisco Bros, slip covered in vintage fabric I made
- Shades- World Market
- Duvet- I repurposed from a vintage bedspread
- Quilt- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Green Lamp- Pier1 Imports
- Metal Lamp- Office Depot
- Desk- Old hotel desk I painted
- Deco Nightstand- found on street and restored
- Art is a mish-mash of my art, Thomas’ mother Sharon Ecker’s art, photos, found objects, gifts, and thrift store finds
- Furniture- World Market
- Parkway Tavern Sign- street find, the owner was throwing it away after Katrina
- Lanterns- Tuesday Morning
- Metalwork Pink Flamingo- local artist
Thanks, Mitchell & Thomas!
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(Image credits: Jacqueline Marque)