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Merry and Bright with Ware Porter

The interior designer hosts a holiday happy hour at his New Orleans home, where Creole eclecticism and classic Colonial style blend together like a smooth craft cocktail
Sumptuous green living room in the New Orleans home of Ware Porter. Features: roaring fire, octagonal mirror above mantel, a tone-one-tone striped champagne-colored velvet sofa, large botanical-print armchair, decorated Christmas tree, mantel swags, wreath on mirror, and large arrangement of greenery and berries on the mantel
Ware commissioned floral artist Kim Starr Wise to dress the living room mantel in traditional greens, including a hand-tied garland made of cypress and rosehips, a wreath of evergreens and pine cones, and a towering arrangement of rosehips and bay leaves.

Ware Porter is the consummate maximalist. Whether it’s a matter of color, art, food, or flowers, the New Orleans–based interior designer believes that there is no such thing as too much or too many. “At the risk of sounding hokey, I run with the old adage ‘the more, the merrier,’ ” he says. “In our home, we surround ourselves with whatever makes us happy, and it just so happens there is a whole lot that makes us happy.”

Portrait of interior designer Ware Porter at home. Room features: multiple sets of tall, narrow French doors with arched transoms, butter-colored walls, pale blue sofa with nailhead trim, French country side chair with whitewash finish and Greek key-patterned upholstery, pink and white-bicolored amaryllis flowers potted a large bowl on a coffee table
Ware Porter (standing) and Jordi Land in the sunroom of their century-old Colonial Revival home in Uptown New Orleans

The house—a rare, redbrick beauty in a city stocked with Creole cottages and Greek Revival manses—was purchased by Ware and his partner, Jordi Land, in 2019, although it looks as though they have lived there for decades. Collections of antique silver, rare books, and fine art photography infuse individuality into every nook and cranny, while handwoven rugs, blousy sheers and shades, and sumptuous pillows and upholstery radiate warmth throughout perfectly proportioned rooms.

A collection of blue-and-white plates is displayed on a wall covered in scenic wallpaper in a green colorway, above an antique wooden sideboard. Laid out on the sideboard are a pair of tall thin burgundy tapers in silver candleholders, lush burgundy flowers in a pair of silver tumblers, champagne bottles chilling in a silver pedestaled champagne bucket, and green drinking glasses
Ware and Jordi bought the antique Georgian sideboard from the previous homeowners, whose family had owned it for generations. The 18th-century Italian mirror is from Les Puces flea market in Paris.

Furnishings range in period and provenance but are all simple in profile, generous in scale, and impeccably tailored with details like bullion fringe and crisp accordion pleating. And while the interiors cannot be defined by a particular “style,” per se, they might best be described as an intoxicating concoction of Mount Vernon elegance and Mad Men chic spiked with a shot of quintessential Big Easy quirk.

Dining room in the New Orleans home of Ware Porter. Features: Scenic wallpaper in a green colorway, pale blue sheer drapery panels, antique circular wood dining table and chairs, oriental rug, pale blue ceiling
Natural light filters through wool sheers in the dining room. The oversized scale of the antique lantern gives it a modern sensibility.

Known for his innate ability to layer and his fearless use of color, Ware carefully curated rooms with one-of-a-kind finds, custom finishes, and a mere 23 of his “favorite” hues, ranging from creamy white to aubergine. Each space has its own distinct personality and palette but plays well with the others, allowing the flow to remain remarkably cohesive.

Among the myriad colors are varying shades of red and green, suggesting that the interiors might have been designed with Christmas in mind. “It wasn’t intentional, but the holiday spirit lasts year-round for us,” the designer says. “However, it has less to do with the red accents or green walls and more to do with the vibe. It’s so cozy and festive! It seems to say, ‘Grab a drink and come sit by the fire.’ ”

Ware likes to add a surprise element to gatherings, such as this server dressed as a nutcracker.
Tone-on-tone blue striped walls in the foyer segue to an inviting green hue in the adjacent room.

Although the home’s fluid footprint can comfortably accommodate large parties, the couple prefers small get-togethers and intimate sit-down dinners that allow time to enjoy the company of close friends. Like the décor, the guest list is always colorful and never fails to include an element of surprise—a troop of carolers singing or a nutcracker passing drinks. And at every gathering, a bounty of champagne, caviar, and flowers awaits across the threshold.

Says floral artist Kim Starr Wise, “Ware and I share a passion for grandiosity, but we also understand that balance is key to any type of design—whether interior or floral. Because we chose simple, seasonal greens for the living room, we used them in a big way to make a big impact. The wreath, garland, and arrangement are lush and voluminous, so they can carry the weight of the mantel and the oversized mirror while also balancing out the 12-foot Christmas tree.”

Christmas flower arrangement, floral design by Kim Starr Wise
A large silver wine cooler serves as a vase for an overflow of red and blue blooms and seasonal greens.

For the dining room, Kim created an enchanting display of flowers, foliage, fruits, and berries so fresh and organic in form that it appears to have sprouted straight from the center of the white oak dining table. Blue hydrangeas, inspired by Ware’s antique English transferware, anchor a cloud of Adromischus festivus, princess pine, and bay leaves punctuated with red and burgundy roses, ranunculus, snapdragons, anemones, and pepper berries.

“I like my flowers how I like my décor—a little wild with a lot of whimsy,” Ware says. “Everything has been loved and has the patina to prove it. Nothing is that precious here—except, of course, time spent with friends.”

By Margaret Zainey Roux | Photography by David Hillegas | Interior design by Ware Porter, Ware M. Porter & Co. | Floral design by Kim Starr Wise, Kim Wise Floral Events

November December 2021 cover of Flower magazine featuring a Christmas tree and mantel decorated with a garland and potted amaryllis flowers in the blue-and-white living room of Tina Yaraghi, founder of The Enchanted Home

This story appears in Flower magazine’s November/December 2021 issue. Subscribe, find a store near you, or sign up for our free e-newsletter.