Home Field Advantage

For Skylene Montgomery and Sean Payton, time at home is a valuable commodity. Payton’s busy schedule as coach of the New Orleans Saints keeps the couple on the go for much of the year, so when they opted for a condo in Uptown New Orleans in 2013, making it a comfortable place where they could relax was a top priority. Montgomery and Payton also wanted their home to be inviting to friends and family. His teenage children visit regularly and the couple usually entertain after home games.

Enter designer Shaun Smith, owner of Shaun Smith Home. Montgomery and Payton knew Smith’s talent through the home of Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and his wife, Melanie. After meeting Smith, they conveyed a desire for casual, beachy luxury, easy wash-and-wear linens, a monochromatic palette of soft colors and a few frills for Montgomery. In short, low-key livability with flourishes of elegance.

As one of 12 units in the newly renovated property that was once the LaSalle Elementary School and later the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the residence has high ceilings, an abundance of natural light and the kind of open flow associated with urban loft-living. The main living area, located on the upper level, contains a combined living, dining and kitchen area, the master suite, powder room, laundry room, a walk-in closet for Montgomery and a patio. The lower level has a foyer, his-and-her bedrooms for children as well as guests and a second living room. One of Smith’s goals was to make the most of the flexible, open floor plan so that the space is as suited to entertaining as it is to the owners’ quiet time alone.

“With the open concept, most of the time, we live on one floor,” says Montgomery.

A table from Restoration Hardware and chairs with a subtle sheen provide dining space for 10. Blake Boyd painting; lantern, Eclectic Home.

The kitchen’s Quartzite counters and island are combined with a mosaic backsplash.

Drapery made with a slate-colored, linen-cotton blend by Kravet camouflages the master bedroom’s windows. Bed, Bremermann Designs; rug, NOLA Rugs; chest, Villa Vici; lamps, Shaun Smith Home.

Smith worked with The Amandas of Organized Affairs to customize Skylene’s closet. Rhinestone, velvet and Lucite bench by Pebblehill.

When the couple purchased the condo, they picked the finishes, including the dark coating on the wood floors, richly colored quartzite counter tops and neutral wall colorings. They also added personalized touches: a built-in Miele coffee maker for Payton, an icemaker and refrigerated drawers for storing sodas and bottled water for guests. From there, Smith tweaked the kitchen’s backsplash; chose furniture, statement lighting, appointments and art; and integrated a few key pieces of Payton’s Saints memorabilia.

“We’re a football family,” says Montgomery. “There were pieces we wanted to incorporate. But Sean didn’t want them in your face.”

Smith also addressed interior design challenges such as the condo’s off-center windows and orchestrated logistical details, including having the living room’s large antique English buffet crane-lifted onto the balcony and through the condo’s French doors.

“Shaun hit the nail on the head,” says Montgomery. “He picked almost every item and we only changed one chair because it wasn’t durable. He did a great job putting his flair where it was appropriate without overdoing it.”