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White Poise 

Clean lines and well-appointed details imbue a calming balance to the home of chris and jamie meeks. is more than happy to dress the part.

On the morning that Chris and Jamie Meeks' Uptown house was to be photographed for CUE, Jamie had started the day as she often does - with a run in Audubon Park, and by 10 a.m., she was fast approaching the full warp speed that typifies her busy life. A "package of never-ending fire and energy rolled into a petite frame," is how the oldest of the Meekses' three children once described her mother in an essay. And Jamie herself admits, "she pretty much pegs me." With so much energy to spare, it makes sense that Jamie prefers her surroundings simple, calming and clutter-free. Over the years, she and her husband have renovated nine houses and perfected the look — a combination of cool, white underpinnings; sophisticated, clean-lined furnishings; and contemporary art, much of it Jamie's own. And while it wouldn't be accurate to say that the house is minimalist — it's imposing, turn-of-the-century scale and Jamie's affinity for collecting meaningful mementos lend a lived-in authenticity rarely found in a truly minimalist design — it is more than fair to say that there is nothing fussy, contrived or overworked.

"I think less is best," says Jamie, a self-proclaimed right brainer who paints and sculpts. "My work is where I tend to over-process things, not my home."

The Meekses purchased the Queen Anne-style house — designed in 1903 by architect Robert Spencer Soulé — in 2004 and turned to contractor and designer Michael Carbine for help with their extensive renovation plans. Having renovated houses as a part-time occupation during the 1990s, in the initial planning stages both Chris and Jamie had strong ideas of what they wanted. But Carbine's input proved invaluable to the project, which, because of Katrina, took an unanticipated 18 months to complete.

"Michael was great because he felt the footprint of the house didn't need to be expanded," says Jamie. "Chris was insistent at the beginning that he wanted a master bedroom downstairs, but Michael said, 'It's too much house.' And he was absolutely 100 percent correct." Carbine prevailed, and rather than build on any additional square footage, the Meekses actually eliminated an awkward, earlier addition on the second floor, reworked the floor plan of the existing space and expanded upward into the third-floor attic, which now houses two bedrooms, a bath and a studio for Jamie. Walls and doors were relocated; fireplaces, including several in the center hall, were stripped away; staircases and mantels were rebuilt, jobs tackled by Chris, a stockbroker and a talented, self-taught carpenter; stained-glass windows were removed and French doors were installed — all in an effort to bring light into the house and pare down the dark interior, which displayed a confusing mix of architectural influences and lacked a cohesive style.

To take advantage of an unused side yard and add to the sense of tranquility that reigns throughout the house, Chris designed a classically inspired lap pool, visible and accessible from both the kitchen and den. Though the Meekses originally wanted a veranda that wrapped around the side and rear of the house, Carbine designed an abridged version that functions as an inviting transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

When it came to the design of the kitchen, Jamie was master of the domain. While Chris wanted to experiment with color, she held fast to her desire for all white, one of the few elements of kitchen design she'd always wanted but never fully achieved in any of the couple's previous homes. In fact, all of the rooms where Jamie spends most of her time — the kitchen, den, master bedroom, her studio and her bathroom — are clean, crisp visions in white.

"I never tire of it," she says. "It reflects light and it's part of the simplicity that has worked for me from house to house." On the other hand, Jamie's boundless energy and curiosity are always in search of a new mission and the proverbial writing already appears to be on the house's perfectly appointed, serenely white walls. "My house will change," she says. "I move things around quite a bit." Jamie's Tips on Making a House a Home "Surround yourself with things you love; things that are meaningful."

"I think less is best for the eye. In other words, practice restraint."

"Stick with what the house has to offer. Even a major renovation, if it's well done shouldn't fight the essential character and integrity of a house."

"A coat of paint does wonders. Changing colors can be more transforming than anything else you do."

"Lighten the color. (Darkness drives me crazy.) White brings in the light, and it's clean and fresh."

"I do like things to tell a story. A lot of my favorite things aren't anything I bought or could have paid for."

click to enlarge Chris designed the stunning lap pool to take advantage of - the expansive side yard. A raised veranda paved with - flagstone overlooks the pool. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • Chris designed the stunning lap pool to take advantage of the expansive side yard. A raised veranda paved with flagstone overlooks the pool.
click to enlarge Photographs by fashion photographer Herb Ritts and a - painting by Jamie are among the black-and-white - framed works grouped over the tub in Jamie's bathroom. - The tiny pair of underwear was saved over the years by - Jamie's mother as a reminder of Jamie's independent - spirit. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • Photographs by fashion photographer Herb Ritts and a painting by Jamie are among the black-and-white framed works grouped over the tub in Jamie's bathroom. The tiny pair of underwear was saved over the years by Jamie's mother as a reminder of Jamie's independent spirit.
click to enlarge After renovating numerous houses, Jamie finally got the - all-white kitchen she has always wanted. The farm table - had a dough bowl attached to it when Jamie found it. She - removed it and combined the table with white chairs by - Danish Modernist designer Arne Jacobsen. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • After renovating numerous houses, Jamie finally got the all-white kitchen she has always wanted. The farm table had a dough bowl attached to it when Jamie found it. She removed it and combined the table with white chairs by Danish Modernist designer Arne Jacobsen.
click to enlarge The furnishings in the Meekses' house are a fine-tuned, - yet livable collection of distressed antiques, sleek 20th - century designs and contemporary pieces often found - during trips to New York, where Jamie's late, younger - brother lived and worked in the furniture design - industry. Jamie had a local artistan fabricate the narrow - table made of hammered iron. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • The furnishings in the Meekses' house are a fine-tuned, yet livable collection of distressed antiques, sleek 20th century designs and contemporary pieces often found during trips to New York, where Jamie's late, younger brother lived and worked in the furniture design industry. Jamie had a local artistan fabricate the narrow table made of hammered iron.
click to enlarge "I'm a scavenger," says Jamie, who finds the hunt for - objects as compelling as the objects themselves. - Beaches, antique stores and flea markets are some of the - places she combs for the organic and manmade finds - that beautify her home. Bowls of shells and mounds of - wave-worn sea glass line the shelves in the den next to - rough-hewn geodes, assorted vases and a collection of - coral carted from Anguilla. "I call them the things I - covet," she says, surveying the carefully selected items - around her. "All of my treasured objects have some sort - of meaning." - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • "I'm a scavenger," says Jamie, who finds the hunt for objects as compelling as the objects themselves. Beaches, antique stores and flea markets are some of the places she combs for the organic and manmade finds that beautify her home. Bowls of shells and mounds of wave-worn sea glass line the shelves in the den next to rough-hewn geodes, assorted vases and a collection of coral carted from Anguilla. "I call them the things I covet," she says, surveying the carefully selected items around her. "All of my treasured objects have some sort of meaning."
click to enlarge The Meekses' 9-year-old Jack Russell, Tipper, makes - himself comfortable on the shag rug in the master - bedroom. Chris built the bed, and the painting to the left of - the bed is by Jamie. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • The Meekses' 9-year-old Jack Russell, Tipper, makes himself comfortable on the shag rug in the master bedroom. Chris built the bed, and the painting to the left of the bed is by Jamie.
click to enlarge A palette of pale, mossy green colors the living room, - where Jamie combined a velvet sofa, a pair of 1940s- - inspired chairs and a glass-and-Lucite coffee table. - Chris constructed the mantle, and the painting on the - right is one of Jamie's. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • A palette of pale, mossy green colors the living room, where Jamie combined a velvet sofa, a pair of 1940s- inspired chairs and a glass-and-Lucite coffee table. Chris constructed the mantle, and the painting on the right is one of Jamie's.
click to enlarge Jamie Meeks in front of one of her favorite possessions: a - painting of Manhattan by artist Paul Balmer. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • Jamie Meeks in front of one of her favorite possessions: a painting of Manhattan by artist Paul Balmer.
click to enlarge "Chris and I are both pretty scrappy," says Jamie. "We do - a lot of work ourselves and we figure out how to do - things on our own. Years ago, we didn't have the - resources to buy art. That inspired me to start painting." - Jamie's current abstracts are defined by cool colors - pale blues, greens and white  and are often created - with textured materials like caulk and sheetrock mud. - She works in clay as well. - SHERWOOD COX
  • Sherwood Cox
  • "Chris and I are both pretty scrappy," says Jamie. "We do a lot of work ourselves and we figure out how to do things on our own. Years ago, we didn't have the resources to buy art. That inspired me to start painting." Jamie's current abstracts are defined by cool colors pale blues, greens and white and are often created with textured materials like caulk and sheetrock mud. She works in clay as well.
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