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High ceilings, open concept: Gremillions went modern when building new home … 38 years ago |

High ceilings, open concept: Gremillions went modern when building new home … 38 years ago

Joy Gremillion was ahead of her time when she and husband Frank built their home in Oak Alley 38 years ago. 

“I knew back then what I wanted — high ceilings and open space,” she said. “And I wanted a house big enough for my huge family and to entertain.”

And she got it from Fritz von Osthoff, who had a New Orleans carriage house in mind when he designed the three-story white stucco home with dark green shutters.

The home has modern features, including a vaulted ceiling, which soars to 28 feet at its highest point, and a large space that encompasses the entire public area.

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It also reflects Von Osthoff’s love of landscaping in two gardens open from almost every room on the first floor. 

“He even wanted to put landscaping in the middle of the living room area,” Joy Gremillion said, “but I just couldn’t do that.”

In the years the Gremillions have lived in their home, they have renovated several times, adding heart of pine floors, creating a garden and terrace at the front and gutting and modernizing the kitchen. They have also collected beautiful antiques and accessories as well as art from Frank Gremillion’s brother, who has a gallery in Houston. 

The front door opens to the large space that includes the foyer, living room, garden room and dining room. The entire area is painted cream with dark wood trim. The neutral palette is the perfect background for the Gremillions’ collection of antique Oriental rugs used throughout the space. 

“I love Oriental rugs,” Joy Gremillion said. “They bring so much life to the house.”

On the left is the garden room, bathed in light with a wall of mirrors and two walls of windows, high and low, that look out to the landscaped patio. A small antique French desk is the home work space for Frank Gremillion, who recently retired after many years practicing law. 

The garden room is open to the living room with a large brick fireplace and plenty of comfortable seating. The room is filled with items the couple collected over decades.

“We started out poor as church mice,” Joy Gremillion said with a laugh, “but we have enjoyed collecting our things. It’s nice to be able to gather pieces as you go through life.”

A stairway at the front of the main room leads to the second floor with three bedrooms. The home also has a third floor with a large bedroom and one huge playroom, where the Gremillions’ younger grandchildren and great-grandchildren “pull out their toys.”

Although some people consider a formal dining room a waste of space, the Gremillions get plenty of use from theirs, which is open to the living room on the right. Ever since Joy Gremillion’s mother died in 1992, she and her siblings have gathered for lunch every Thursday.

“We don’t care if we have the same main dish five or six times,” she said. “We just like being together.”

Cooking is such an important part of her life that six years ago, the Gremillions completely gutted and redid their kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, new cabinets and quartzite counters. A large antique Welsh dresser is filled with items Joy Gremillion uses for entertaining, one of her greatest joys. She has her whole family of four children and spouses, eight grandchildren and spouses and six great-grandchildren for Christmas every year and then a big party for friends and family on New Year’s Day. Neighbors are always stopping by for an afternoon visit and a glass of wine.

“I feed a ton of people,” she said “I’m always cooking.” 

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