An Old Fashioned Southern Christmas

Instagram is such a wonderful resource for meeting new people who share similar interests, and today I am delighted to introduce you to Judy Rizzo, aka @mousefeathers.  Judy lives in a historic 19th century home in New Iberia, Louisiana that is classically decorated and full of fine antiques and treasures. Judy particularly enjoys the Christmas season, and today we will tour her beautiful home decorated for the holidays and beyond.  This is a home that stands the test of time and is a reflection of the Rizzo family’s lives, collected over decades of memories. Let’s take a look inside and meet Judy!

Q:  Please tell me about your home (what year was it built, etc.) and your design process.

A:  My home was built in 1890 in New Iberia, Louisiana on what was to become the Old Spanish Trail (in 1929), the first southernmost transcontinental highway. It is located on Main Street and built in the style known as Victorian Center Hall Cottage. It is a raised cottage spanned by a deep front porch. The East Main Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

During the design process of this house, I was able to take cues from the house itself. Usually the scale of the rooms, window placements, formality of the millwork and mantel of a particular room will dictate how it is to be decorated, and the fact that all of the rooms in the house are very much used. The house has a great flow to it and a “time-worn” feel to its rooms. My husband Monty and I bought this home in the fall of 1978.

Q:   How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what was the design inspiration behind your décor?

A:  My main thought on decorating is that a home should be a reflection of its inhabitants’ lives. I feel I’ve always been, even as a young girl, drawn to design books that have shown this philosophy, even long before I majored in art and interior design in college. A room should offer many “clues” as to who “truly lives” in it. Just as a husband and wife meld their lives together, so should the home become a collage of objects and collections of objects that have made up their lives. 

I have been told that our home is living proof that art, chintz, and my collection of lots of “living” animals can co-exist just fine with Monty’s antique medical engravings, floor to ceiling bookcases in very room (even the bathroom!) and his collection of “once living” African taxidermy. I guess you could say that we are each collectors and hunters by nature, and through the 40 years that we have lived in this house, we have both learned a lot about ourselves. Our home and its walls certainly do express both our loves and our lives.

Q:  When did you become interested in interior design, and where do you find inspiration? Do you have any professional design experience?

A:   I studied art and interior design in college but never worked in either. While my three daughters were in college, I did have an antique business in the city in which they attended school. It was a fun thing to do with my time while getting to see my girls and my friends from college days.

A lot of my spare time now is spent helping friends and family design and decorate their homes. I have helped three generations of friends – my mom’s, my own, and now many of my children’s friends.

Q:  What are your favorite interior design books?

A:  My favorite design books are Charlotte Moss: A Passion for Detail, Charlotte Moss Decorates, Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, and Suzanne Kasler: Inspired Interiors.

Q:  Are there any treasures you particularly enjoy collecting?

A:  One of my passions has been collecting Victorian Staffordshire Figures from the early to mid 1800s. My collection is quite extensive and is displayed in several rooms around the house.

Q:  How do you like to decorate for Christmas?

A:  Decorating for Christmas has always been a fun time at the Rizzo House. The architecture and layout of the house just lends itself to traditional, old time fun decorations – classic Christmas colors, magnolia leaves from the yard, old world ornaments passed down from my mom and from trips through the years, Christmas crackers, gingerbread houses, and always a heavily lighted and decorated Christmas tree that brushes the 14 foot ceiling. Our three girls have always played a very big part in the decorating and helping with the Main Street Christmas Tours, and it is my hope that the grandkids may one day also do the same.

Q:  What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A:   What I really enjoy doing during my free time is painting. In fact, my New Year’s resolution is to spend more time at my easel painting portraits, still lifes, and interiors.

Since my husband retired one year ago, it’s been fun to be able to take off at any time for a quick trip to see our grandchildren or to go to our house in New Orleans for longer than just a weekend!

Q:  Anything else you would like to add?

A:  For the past 12 years, our Christmas celebration has also been a birthday celebration for our beloved pair of Scottish Terriers named Oliver and Tilly, who were born on Christmas day in 2005. In fact four of my portraits of them have been used as our Christmas cards through the years.

Thank you Judy for sharing your beautiful home today, and for your lovely sentiments on decorating. I could not agree more! For additional inspiration, please follow Judy on Instagram.



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