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To the Cottage Born 

It's April, and as Calais Coulon and her husband Chris count down the days to the May birth of their son, they are still debating the name they will give their first-born. Calais is still in search of the perfect baby carrier as well, having brought home at least a half dozen candidates in the past few months, spreading them across the floor in a catch-all room she describes as "middle earth." But little else has been left until the home stretch. With three weeks to go, Calais has feathered her nest with an adorable assemblage of baby furniture, clothing, toys and other accoutrements; gotten rid of the unwanted and extraneous; and in the process, determined that, these days, "simple, comfortable and elegant" are the way to go. "I'm nesting. So anything that sits on the floor for longer than two days, I throw it away because that must mean we don't need it," she says, exaggerating only a little for effect. Eighteen hundred square feet of cozy, cottage living, two busy careers (Calais is a media consultant who frequently works on political campaigns and Chris is a lobbyist for a local law firm.) and a baby on the way have led her to decide that clutter will not be a part of this family's plan. Instead, her approach to her surroundings and her clothing is a mix of key pieces, bold accents and the occasional, offbeat twist thrown in for fun. At home, Calais likes to enliven the cottage's neutral backdrop with vases of colorful flowers. In her wardrobe, she chooses clean-lined silhouettes and punches them up with statement-making jewelry and whimsical, sky-high stilettos. The latter is an obsession she indulges whenever she can at a favorite Soho boutique and easily justifies since she wears them with everything and her husband is a cool six-foot-five. At the moment, she's wild for anything purple — from tulips and stemware to dresses and earrings — and for easy, waist-less shapes, a fashion trend that couldn't have been more perfectly timed. "I found while being pregnant and watching my body change that it was very difficult to dress it, so you have to simplify your style," she says. "I've been so lucky this season; everything's a-line or empire. I'm buying clothes I can probably still wear after the baby is born." Calais' affinity for uncomplicated chic is the result of being both a contemporary woman and a mom-to-be, but her complimentary flair for the exotic seems to be more a gift of her eclectic heritage. Her father, a neurosurgeon, and her mother, a teacher, met and lived in Beirut in the 1970s. When civil war erupted, they left Beirut and visited a variety of European cities — including the French seaport for which Calais is named — before returning to their home state of Louisiana. Over the years, her father also traveled extensively in Africa. When Calais and Chris bought their Metairie home in 2005, artifacts from the Middle East, African objects given to her by her father and family antiques were among the cherished belongings she brought along. Built circa 1960, the house, which Calais describes as "somewhere between a cottage and a bungalow," charmed the couple with its snug, low-slung rooms; pickled pine floors; cypress kitchen cabinets; light-filled den and backyard pool. Last year, they landscaped and built a deck in the area surrounding the already-existing pool. Since then, they've spent the bulk of their at-home time outside — weather permitting. "We completed it in May and didn't really come in until late October," says Calais. "The beauty of this place is that from 11 to 2, the sun is in the backyard. Then the sun moves to the other side of the house, and it's well shaded." To help pull together the look she wanted inside, Calais hired designer Mary Satterlee, whose Magazine Street store, Udwell, combines antiques and sleek, 20th century-inspired furnishings in a fresh 21st century way. "I knew what I wanted, but it's hard to figure out where to start," says Calais. "Mary understood that I didn't want to blow out a budget to redo the house. She saw that it had a cool, modern, swanky style, but I also had a lot of antiques. It's very New Orleans. It's such a mix of old and new. Mary helped me accomplish that." Calais' favorite magazine, Cottage Living, which specializes in small spaces, has been a constant source of inspiration as well. And the end result — a home that's as friendly to jeans and flip-flops as it is to entertaining guests over cocktails and dinner — is exactly what Calais originally had in mind. "I think it will be great for kids," she says. "There's no place where I would freak out if somebody flung a hotdog and chili against the wall. I don't have crystal anywhere or priceless art, and even if I did, there's always Gorilla Glue."
click to enlarge Pink babydoll dress by Goldfish - EUGENIA UHL
click to enlarge Chandelier earrings from Em's
  • Chandelier earrings from Em's
click to enlarge Calais likes to refresh her shoe selection at Keito, a Soho - boutique she frequents when in New York. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • Calais likes to refresh her shoe selection at Keito, a Soho boutique she frequents when in New York.
click to enlarge Warm chocolate browns combined with cool blues and - silvers were used in the bedroom. Calais purchased the - mirrored chests and tall, silvery lamps from Udwell and - later hired the store's owner, designer Mary Satterlee, to - help her pull the house together. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • Warm chocolate browns combined with cool blues and silvers were used in the bedroom. Calais purchased the mirrored chests and tall, silvery lamps from Udwell and later hired the store's owner, designer Mary Satterlee, to help her pull the house together.
click to enlarge Calais chose a giraffe motif for the baby's nursery, which is - furnished with new pieces and family antiques. She found - the chair at The Baby's Room and had it recovered. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • Calais chose a giraffe motif for the baby's nursery, which is furnished with new pieces and family antiques. She found the chair at The Baby's Room and had it recovered.
click to enlarge Floral empire-waist dress from BCBG - EUGENIA UHL
click to enlarge A rustic cypress chair made by Calais' father - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • A rustic cypress chair made by Calais' father
click to enlarge One of Calais' favorite magazines. - EUGENIA UHL
click to enlarge Calais Coulon clears out the clutter as she and her husband - await their first child. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • Calais Coulon clears out the clutter as she and her husband await their first child.
click to enlarge An organic Michael Aram candlestick with a hammered - finish - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • An organic Michael Aram candlestick with a hammered finish
click to enlarge Fuchsia Baccarat ring from Adler's - EUGENIA UHL
click to enlarge The Coulons use the deck and landscaped pool area - nonstop during warm weather months. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • The Coulons use the deck and landscaped pool area nonstop during warm weather months.
click to enlarge A cowhide rug, treasures from Africa and a Morrocan-style - table bring an exotic, well-traveled feel to the den. - EUGENIA UHL
  • Eugenia Uhl
  • A cowhide rug, treasures from Africa and a Morrocan-style table bring an exotic, well-traveled feel to the den.
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