By CHELSEA BRASTED The Associated Press
GONZALES, La. -- Deep in Gonzales -- past the palatial estates, beautifully crumbling Cajun cottages and cookie-cutter developments -- sits the black house Tate and Sarah Tullier have made their home. It's a visual anomaly in the neighborhood, but the lime-green door and shutters are just the first of countless touches that make the house they've dubbed Maison Looziana anything but uninviting.
The garage doors were replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows as a studio for the couple's business, Tate Tullier Photography. Having work at home made it all the more important to make the house a place they want to spend time.
The couple looked at "tons" of homes before finally choosing this one, Sarah Tullie said. The home was built in 1942 but was later expanded with improvements in modern plumbing and as the family that owned it then expanded.
The property still boasts the small, two-room whitewashed cabin that first family lived in while the larger home was built, offering a unique rustic setting for some of Tate Tullier's photo sessions. The main house, garage-studio and cabin surround a courtyard full of bright flowers.
Indoors, eclecticism reigns. Every door is a different color; open spaces between front room, living room and kitchen reveal interesting finds in every corner.
"The reason nothing matches or coordinates at Maison Looziana is because we love everything, so we promised never to worry about what works," Sarah Tullier said. They "buy what we love and put it somewhere, because of that -- it just works," she said.
The laissez-faire attitude does work. A beautiful teal-and-gold-filigree wallpaper warms one wall of the foyer, welcoming visitors into their living room, which boasts a floor-to-ceiling set of bookshelves Tate's father built one weekend. The shelves house the couple's expansive book collection and their TV.
The living room, a favorite for both Tulliers, features art by their equally eclectic friends. A side table sits atop vintage suitcases, and a funky patterned couch is complete with a smattering of mismatched throw pillows.
Much of the furniture has been collected over decades -- both their grandmothers' collections play significant roles -- but Sarah Tullier has updated and reupholstered some of the pieces herself.
Using cash from the couple's "money dance" during their wedding, the couple bought a brown dresser from IKEA while they were both still in college. It's been updated to fit the bright atmosphere they revel in.
"It's now white, and I painted the knobs gold, and it doesn't look IKEA-ish or college-y anymore," Sarah Tullier said. "We love it."
In the master bedroom, it's next to a reclaimed wood cabinet that holds Tate Tullie's collection of bronze animals. Above the bed is a large piece of artwork by a friend, showing images of a woman's face slightly masked by semi-transparent paper.
"I like this because it reminds me what it feels like to communicate every day with most people," Tate Tullier said -- both he and his wife are deaf.
The master bath has a picture window above the large tub, which was the catalyst for Tate Tullier's ongoing photo art series, Tub Time with Tate. A Rochester, N.Y., arts center is featuring the work in a temporary exhibition.
The former garage had been used as a wood shop under previous owners and already included a small kitchen and bathroom. Tate Tullier closed off one area for storage, but his mind travels freely in the rest of the space. Much of the furniture and decor is easily moved around, which is helpful depending on what kind of photo shoot he has scheduled.
The space above his computer is wallpapered with inspirational images, words and thank you notes. A bookshelf near the back displays all of the cameras he's ever owned, including his first -- a bright orange Fisher Price classic.
Small mementos of the couple's art taste, travels and history peek out from every corner, but often the devil is in the details.
"I love a little bit of a shock factor," Tate Tullier said.
In a curio display in the kitchen, cute figurines are posed alongside R-rated content on shot glasses and salt and pepper shakers. A bull's skull with gold-painted horns hangs nearby on the wall below the dried flowers of Sarah Tullier's wedding bouquet.
Tate is the self-described pack-rat alongside Sarah's minimalist approach, but the home offers a place where they can both be themselves.
"We are on the same wavelength for what we like," Tate Tullier said.