Joy Wilson may have lived in LA, Miami, Vermont and Seattle, but her new adopted home of New Orleans is most certainly her spirit city. Irreverent and revelatory, bold and bawdy and come-as-you-are entertaining, it’s the perfect match for the blogger and cookbook author, known to her fans as Joy the Baker.
“Living in New Orleans is like living in a different world. It’s magical, it’s joyous, the pace is much slower, and we’ll celebrate anything, everything, all the time,” she says.
Joy bought an early 1900s double shotgun home that had been abandoned since Katrina. Since all the rooms flow into one another, she thought it would be the perfect open space to launch her Bakeshop, a place for her to test recipes, teach classes and entertain.
But filling that much space proved to be overwhelming. “I’ve lived such a food-focused life that I’ve let my design style get away from me,” she says. “I know things that I like but I don’t know how to put them together.”
She teamed up with Laurel & Wolf designer James Tabb to transform the space. 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.
“Joy’s style is all over the place in the best possible way,” James says. “You can tell she’s traveled a lot, and she’s collected so many beautiful things. So I wanted to blend those objects with textures, patterns and colors that fit how bright, warm and fun she is.”
In the dining room, a live-edge wood table made by one of Joy’s friends is flanked by soft dining chairs upholstered in French ticking, a nod to NOLA’s French heritage. Enamel farmhouse-style pendants cast a soft glow on a gallery wall of pieces that Joy has collected on her travels.
The space flows seamlessly into the bright sunny kitchen space, where open shelving highlights the beautiful serving pieces—her grandparents’ wedding china, antique cakestands, locally made ceramics—that Joy uses to style shoots for her blog and cookbook. Food52 pitched in, curating a selection of beautiful baking supplies, from shapely rolling pins to a navy and gold Staub French oven, that walk the line between form and function.
“Function is very important to me. I like things to look pretty, but I also need them to work. I need to be able to toss flour around the kitchen and not worry that an $800 bowl might break,” she says.
In the living room, a mix of please-touch textures invites lounging, from a buttery leather sofa to a cowhide-upholstered bench, velvet pillows to fur throws. Air plants tucked into a vintage-style wine riddling rack adds a rustic warmth.
“I was so surprised at how James could really have such a sense of this space without actually being here,” Joy says. “If this space were a dish, it would be duck confit. It’s very French. It feels romantic yet comforting. That’s the vibe now.”
Joy plans to use the space to celebrate the March publication of her brunch cookbook Over Easy. She’s also excited to offer cooking classes and recipe demonstrations in the kitchen. But most of all, she hopes to fill it with new friends, warm bread and cocktails.
“I’m proud that I moved to a city where I didn’t necessarily have a lot of people connections, that I’m pushing myself towards adventure. And now that the design process is done, I feel like I finally have the confidence and the excitement to invite people in here.”
To break in the space, she’s taking a cue from It’s a Wonderful Life.
“There’s this really sweet scene where George and Mary bring a housewarming gift to someone. They bring bread so that the house may never know hunger, salt so that life may always have flavor and wine so there is always joy in the house,” Joy says.
So the menu for her upcoming house warming will incorporate each of those elements with olive bread with everything bagel topping, salty brownie cookies and a white wine Campari cocktail.
“I am so proud of the vibe here now. It feels welcoming and warm and I will try to make sure it smells of fresh bread as often as I can.”