When baker, blogger, and cookbook author Joy Wilson, known as Joy The Baker, purchased her house in New Orleans, she knew she wanted to incorporate a baking station with a place to test recipes, teach classes, and entertain. But filling her open floor plan proved to be overwhelming.
The house was built in the early 1900s as a double shotgun. It was converted into a single space, then abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. Just before Joy moved in, the home was renovated by the previous owners.
Because of its long, open layout, the home required differentiated yet harmonious spaces. Joy teamed up with Laurel & Wolf designer James Tabb to help design her perfect space. Laurel & Wolf is an online interior design company that connects clients with professional interior designers to create their perfect space for a flat fee. The pair worked together online—James from LA and Joy from New Orleans—to create a multifunctional space for living, working, teaching, recipe-testing, and socializing.
James incorporated pieces Joy already owned and gave them new life. For example, he used Joy's art collection to create a gallery wall to emphasize the 12-foot ceilings. Joy had already purchased an 11-foot live-edge dining table that James worked into the design.
New pieces were chosen to reflect Joy's bright personality, as well as her passion for baking. A decorative plate and rolling pin made their way into her gallery wall, and grain sack-upholstered chairs were chosen as a nod to her profession. Shades of pink and burnt orange flow through the space for warmth and a cohesive design.
How was it working with a designer?
I had a few pieces that I knew I liked and wanted to incorporate, but I had no idea how to bring all of these pieces together. It was so helpful to work with my designer, James, as he created a cohesive vision for the things I liked.
What is your favorite room in the house?
My favorite room is the giant room I designed with James. It's all one space—the dining room, the kitchen, and a living/sitting area. The sitting area is my favorite because it's set back a little bit and when sitting in that space, you get a view of the rest of the house.
What were the most important things to you about the design of this space? How did you want it to feel?
I wanted the design of the space to feel welcoming and personal, but also have a more professional element as I'm going to open up the space to host baking workshops and classes. I wanted a space where people could come and feel comfortable, without feeling like they would be invading my personal space, as the baking station is a part of my home.
What in your home are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the vibe. I love that it feels welcoming and warm—I will always want it to smell like bread! I also am really proud of the dining room. That's where I want people to gather and eat tons of food. Now that the design is complete, I love it. It has an 11-foot live-edge table with cozy chairs and a really bright rug. And I love the lighting.
Has the new design changed how you live in your home?
Now that the design process with Laurel & Wolf is done and my space is complete, I feel that I finally have the confidence and excitement to welcome people into my home. I can't wait to have people over! I'm planning a really small housewarming gathering where a few people will come over, and I know they'll feel comfortable because I feel warm and comfortable in this space.
New Orleans has such rich culinary and hospitality traditions. How have they informed your work?
The culinary life in New Orleans is inescapable. I have been really inspired to explore Creole and Cajun food and see how I can incorporate it into what I do. I'm such a California girl, so it's nice to be in the Deep South and explore those flavors, which are often beignets and deep-fried everything.
If your house was a dish, what would it be?
I would say duck confit. Duck confit is fatty, soft duck meat. It's very French. It feels romantic but comforting, and those are the vibes I feel in my house now.
Joy released a brunch cookbook, Over Easy, this year, and says she's going to continue writing books until someone tells her to stop. "And even then I will probably still write more," Joy says.