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.”
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque.
You can see the full house tour and read more about Mitchell and Thomas' home on Apartment Therapy.