When Alice and Bob Schleusner decided to build a new home in Southside, they had a checklist of exactly what they wanted: enough space to entertain friends and visiting family, very little maintenance, and the charm of a home that looks like it has been there for decade yet has all of the modern conveniences. To achieve that perfect trifecta, the couple called on the same architect they had turned to twice before—James Carter. “James knows us and how we like to live,” Alice says.
To attain the timeless look, James designed a Tudor-style exterior, which was enhanced by brick salvaged from a building downtown. “The old brick makes the house look very settled right off the bat,” the architect says. He also designed the house in a “U” shape around a courtyard to allow natural light to cascade in from many directions. “Some spaces are only one-room deep, so there are windows on both sides of the room,” James says. “We took advantage of these design aspects to bring in plenty of light.”
With a little help from designer friends (like Marjorie Johnston for fabrics and Paige Albright for rug placement)—not to mention her own incredible eye and amazing oriental rug, antique, and art collections—Alice continued blending old and new inside. Throughout the house, she mixed classic heirloom pieces with unexpected, modern elements. The great room features old leather chairs and Biedermeier chairs, along with custom end tables designed by Bob, atop an antique Tibetan rug. “My passion for antiques and history started years ago, and it was fueled by discovering and learning about oriental rugs,” says Alice. “There’s something special about things that are made by hand.”
In the dining room, James dropped the ceiling—“he often does that to cozy up the space,” Alice says—and went with poplar-paneled, waxed-wood walls. This spot showcases two of Alice’s favorite antique rugs—a Persian Heriz rug under the dining table and a Caucasian rug in the seating area. An eye-catching, modern chandelier illuminates the Chippendale dining chairs and the antique sideboard, adding to the delicate balance of yesterday and today. The room also unexpectedly features one of Alice’s favorite pieces of art, a colorful work by New Orleans artist Ida Kohlmeyer. “A lot of my art is modern, and I like how that blends on the walls with older antique pieces,” she says. “Without the modern surprises, this house would be entirely too traditional.”
PASSING ON THE PASSION
Alice Schleusner’s infatuation with oriental rugs began more than 50 years ago while she and her husband, Bob, were living in Europe, where he was stationed during his time in the Army. Before moving back to the United States, the young couple took a trip through the Holy Land, and while at a port in Lebanon, Alice saw oriental rugs for sale. “The handmade aspect of the rugs really caught my attention,” she says. “They are one of a kind and seem to tell a story. And they aren’t perfect. I have always appreciated antiques, so I like the rugs’ imperfections and irregularities.”
While Alice didn’t leave with a rug, she did come back to America with a serious interest in the topic and began studying about the unique rugs. In 1973, she launched her own oriental rug business, Kings House Orientals, and ran the shop for more than 35 years. During that time, Alice shared her love of textiles and a good handmade weave with Paige Albright, who worked with her for many years before opening her own shop, Paige Albright Orientals, about 11 years ago. “I learned so much from Alice,” Paige says. “Hands-on training is the best form of education in this business.”
Architect: James F. Carter Architect, jamesfcarter.com Contractor: Slate Barganier Building, slatebarganier.com Landscape: Norman Kent Johnson, 205.960.8902 Landscape maintenance: Pratt Brown Landscapes, Inc., 205.951.3384 Living room mirror: Henhouse Antiques, henhouseantiques.com Living room chandelier: Williams-Sonoma, williams-sonoma.com Surround system: Kevin Likis, likisaudio.com Art framing: Beverly McNeil Gallery, beverlymcneilgallery.com Interior and exterior trim color: Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com Outdoor sconces in courtyard: Mayer Lighting, mayerlighting.com Furniture in courtyard: Blackjack Horticulture, blackjackhorticulture.com Bluestone exterior tile: Tracery Stone Company, tracerystone.com Front entrance fountain: Jim Elbert, 205.540.8551