Category Archives: house

Twelve things I wrote for Nola.com | The Times-Picayune in 2016

 

Breaking news: Gertrude’s begonias are blooming. Since I started writing home and garden features for Nola.com | The Times-Picayune last January I’ve been privileged to interview and tour an eclectic mix of homeowner’s and renter’s spaces. I’ve covered everything from a charming 400 square foot apartment in the Warehouse District to a grand 10,000 square foot Old Metairie home. Writing about beautiful houses is a delight; not only am I constantly inspired by other people’s beautiful spaces, but I get to meet interesting people while doing it. Here are 12 stories I wrote last year– most of them are house tours, but not all of them. Click on the headline to read the full story.

 

Would you like a poem with that? Buy a pizza, get some poetry at New Orleans restaurants

Pizza and potholes don’t have much in common (although they both tend to be round), but this month (April) they serve as gateways for youth poetry during National Poetry Month.

Big Class, a nonprofit volunteer-run organization that helps kids ages 6 to 18 with writing skills, started the Pizza Poetry Project in 2014.

 

Grieving widow finds joy in decorating chic dining room 

Coletha Tucker needed to bring a little joy into her life nearly three years ago so she hired Whitney Jones of Whitney J. Decor to help her revamp several rooms.
Tucker’s husband Alan had just died of cancer. “I got tired of coming home to the same thing. It was miserable,” Tucker said. Hiring Jones proved to be a mood elevator.

 

How to clean up glitter, the bane of all post-Carnival cleanup efforts

After the last piece of king cake has been consumed and the costumes are packed away, there’s still one tiny reminder of the Mardi Gras season that lingers and lingers. Glitter — the bane of all post-Carnival cleanup efforts.

Traces of the sparkly stuff can be found everywhere: hardwood floor crevices, car upholstery, that favorite hoodie worn to every parade. Glittery dust bunnies can lurk under beds and in corners months after Mardi Gras.

 

From ho-hum to hip: A cosmetic spruce-up breathes new life into a Harahan home

Heather Smith’s mid-century modern house in Harahan is a study in the transformative power of paint and plants.

Smith moved into her two-bedroom, two-bath house in May 2015, two days after selling her beloved Nashville Avenue shotgun, where she’d lived for seven years. The reason? Smith went through a divorce in January 2015 and, after living in the same two-mile radius for nearly 20 years, she was ready for a dramatic change and a new project.

 

Honey, I bought a house: Wife surprises husband with serious fixer-upper

The day Elaine Vigne bought her Gentilly Woods home she told her husband she was going shopping, but she didn’t specify what she planned to buy.

“He thought I went shopping to buy a dress,” she said. “He was like, ‘I thought you went shopping today?’ I said, ‘I did. I bought a house.'”

 

Filled to the brim: A Metairie man’s unbelievable German beer stein collection

Open the door to Randy and Jean Smith’s Metairie home, and you’ll instantly be inundated with beer steins thanks to Randy’s 450-piece collection.

The space feels like a biergarten; steins cover nearly every flat surface of the couple’s living room. A medieval tapestry hangs over a cognac leather sofa, German-themed decor decorates the walls, and ceiling beams have steins dangling from hooks. Randy, an affable man with a white handlebar mustache, even looks like the type to collect beer steins.

 

A cozy Creole townhouse in the midst of the French Quarter action

Guy Williams knew he belonged in New Orleans the moment a stranger asked him for a bite of his pastry.

Williams, who grew up in Tennessee and lived in Manhattan for many years, was in need of a change. He found himself sitting at CC’s on Royal and St. Philip streets with a cup of coffee and a pastry when the quintessential Crescent City magic happened.

 

Mother’s Day gift idea: portraits from six New Orleans artists

In this Instagram world, the gift of a portrait on Mother’s Day can feel old fashioned, which makes images of her favorite people — or pooches– that much more special. These photographers, painters and illustrators offer styles ranging from classic to quirky. 

 

Plant-loving Metairie resident transforms courtyard into private oasis

If you’re looking for “the best kept secret in Metairie,” then look no further than Richard Bienvenu’s backyard courtyard — at least according to him.

Bienvenu and his girlfriend of 14 years, Diana Eubanks, transformed a once “dump” of a courtyard into what could easily pass as outdoor seating at a trendy eatery. In fact, the owner of Quarter View Restaurant (located next door to the couple’s home) jokingly said, ‘How many tables do you think I can fit out here?’

 

Worldly influences, local art reflects Gentilly renter’s interests: Cool apartment style

The two-bedroom Gentilly house that Charle Washington rents with her boyfriend, Max Lapushin, is filled with work by local and up-and-coming artists, from letterpress posters by Amos Kennedy to framed yarn work by Pottspurls.

“As a local creative, I know how much people appreciate you supporting them, and I love art that has a story,” said Washington, who runs Shop Charle, a vintage clothing pop-up shop. “I almost never paint a space,” she added. “I cover it in framed artwork because the last thing I want to do when I move is paint over it.”

 

House tour: former schoolhouse filled with hand-me-downs with history

Journalist Helen Rowland once wrote, “Home is any four walls that enclose the right person.” For Hattie and Corey Moll, that quote rings true. They’ve been renting their two bedroom double — an 1854 former schoolhouse in the Riverbend area — for only two months but it feels like they’ve been there for years.

 

First lady of fashion: Michelle Obama through the years

First Lady Michelle Obama has brought her own brand of class and grace to the White House. We reflect on some of her most iconic fashion moments of the past eight years.

 

Growing up With Hurricanes

Barataria Preserve

 

“Are you planning on writing anything about Katrina?” My friend Missy posed the question to me during one of our quasi-regular coffee dates two weeks ago. The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up on August 29, and my social media timelines are saturated with links to articles from both local and national news outlets.

I have mixed emotions about “K10”. I acknowledge the importance of commemorating the struggle, the lives lost, the frustrations felt (no matter if you stayed in town or high tailed it out of here), but I find rehashing the experience on a yearly basis exhausting.

I’ve shared snippets of my Katrina story with everyone from friends to total strangers, but I’m not ready to write my entire experience down yet. Instead, I’ll share an excerpt from Allons, a longer essay I wrote this summer. The piece is about growing up in a house that was situated on the cusp of the swamp in an otherwise nondescript WestBank subdivision. This particular part of the essay explores what it was like going through adolescence with the constant threat of hurricanes. If you enjoy it, or even if you hate it, please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

 

 

I was eight weeks old when I took my first pirogue ride. The levee was just a glorified dirt mound then, and a storm brought enough rain to flood our house, requiring my parents to bundle me up and float us out. The levee was still inadequate when my brother was born two years later. Whenever Nash Roberts would announce a hurricane was coming, neighbors would join together to fortify the levee with hundreds of sandbags, most likely purchased with their own money. The Army Corps of Engineers finally built the levee up and installed a pumping station that would suck the water out of the streets. However, the levees could only do so much. Whenever Nash predicted a really big hurricane was projected to make landfall, we got the hell out of town. If Nash said it was bad, then it must be bad. Everyone trusted Nash.

My sister was born seven years after my inaugural boat ride and by then me and my brother were evacuation pros. We could each take three toys with us, but no more. Mom would bring photo albums and important documents, such as our birth certificates, to my maternal grandparent’s house, since their house never flooded. Dad would board up the windows with sheets of plywood, which protected the glass panes and blocked light from coming in. We put all of our furniture up on wooden blocks, as if those extra two inches would make a big difference if significant flooding occurred. Anything that could get ruined would go on top of beds, dressers, and closet shelves. I would put my most prized possessions at the highest points, which forced me to assign value to everything I owned. Sometimes I thought about the worst case scenario, imagining our house filled to the roof like an aquarium. I imagined Sac-au-Lait and Redfish doing circles around the wooden dollhouse my paternal paw paw built me. I never worried about my own well being, but worried about my precious belongings, like what would happen to my microscope or my roller skates. Mom and Dad took care of the bigger things that my adolescent mind couldn’t quite comprehend, such as personal safety in the midst of a natural disaster. We also stocked up on canned goods and filled the bathtubs with water just in case water sources became contaminated after the storm. We never needed the water, but once every few years we would have to live without power for a few days and subsist on canned beans and PB&J sandwiches.

Stealing Magnolias by Debra Shriver

 “New Orleanians have long memories and a high tolerance for eccentricity.” – Randy Fertel
If you’re a New Orleanian, you have an intimate relationship with the city. You lovingly talk about its nuances the same way you’d describe a lifelong friend, or a close relative. They might drive you nuts sometimes, but their faults only add to their charm. From decadent recipes to French influenced décor, Debra Shriver tells her tale of embracing the Big Easy lifestyle in Stealing Magnolias, a coffee table book that is not only comprised of her favorite haunts, but her adoration of the culture.

Alabama born and bred, this New Yorker fell in love with the city and found a quintessential French Quarter residence to call her own just weeks before Hurricane Katrina. While the photography alone is worth a glance, Shriver weaves an intimate tale, sharing her NOLA love notes with us as she discovers her neighborhood and decorates her home.  When we hear so much about spikes in crime, increasing property taxes, hurricanes, and crooked politicians (I’m looking at you C. Ray Nagin), it’s a necessity to take a moment to dwell on the positive details that make this city so special.

Stealing Magnolias would make a wonderful gift, or purchase a copy (via Octavia Books) for yourself and be prepared to reconnect with New Orleans. Already have a copy? Be sure to read Valorie Hart’s review of Shriver’s latest book, Spirit of New Orleans on Visual Vamp.
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How’s your home life?

I’ve  been really busy with some exciting projects, both related and unrelated to Slow Southern Style.  That said the heat has been ridiculous and all I want to do is drink lemonade, play with my food dehydrator and read. I’ve been working on potty training with Nadia, the newest addition to the family
I realized I’ve never shared pictures of my house, mainly because interior design is not my forte. However my sister keeps telling me to share the story of how we bought our house with a home improvement show.  While money for a makeover would be nice I have yet to heed her advice.  The story is a good one so it’s about time I shared it here. 
However first item on the agenda is pictures. 
My fabulous Mardi Gras hat collection is too good not to leave out year ’round. This is the mantle in the office aka my closet. Two of the hats are my husband’s and the rest are mine.

I managed to nab a mannequin from a shop that was getting rid of theirs. Basically this is an adult Barbie doll and I fully plan on giving her a new outfit every week. She’s currently sporting this year’s Halloween costume. Now y’all see why I have to hit the gym every week?  
Archway in the upstairs hallway, there is another just like this in the living room downstairs.

Wish I could get a better picture of the stairwell and the stained glass window. The stairs are probably my favorite feature, aside from the stained glass and exposed brick. 
Hannah Stouffer blik wall decal above the sofa. This wasn’t exactly easy to put up. I hate the wall color but this is such a large room painting it is overwhelming. The snakes give the beige an edge, at least that’s what I tell myself.
Reading nook with our rocking chair that is over 100 years old. I just bought the antlers at an antique shop. We keep threatening to turn Nadia into a reindeer with them. 
Mantle in the living room. The waterfall is Havasupai, where we got married. The rest is an homage to the Grand Canyon and more snake paraphernalia. 
Am I the only girl who gets excited about vintage prints of anacondas killing other animals? Probably so. 
 The Anthony Turducken paint can art was purchased at DuMois gallery. Yes, that is a termite. Back in late April we discovered we have a termite problem. Awesome. We’re actually evicting our little house guests within the next two weeks and plan on writing RIP and the date on the back of this piece. 
Still with me? Good. 
In 2001 when Thomas decided to move to New Orleans he rented the house we are in now. Eventually we met, got engaged, shacked up for a year, then got married. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary with this house, then a week later Katrina hit. We evacuated and reluctantly left the house he lived in for 5 years and some feral cats. More on them in a minute. 
We lived in Scottsdale, AZ for 3.5 years. It was rough being away for so long but our careers really took off and moving is annoying and expensive. Finally we had it with the cultural wasteland that is the Phoenix metro area (sorry) and decided to make the move back home.  
Long story short we were back in New Orleans a little over a year. One day we were driving past the house, saw the for sale sign, and the rest is history. Now when we first lived here the house was in some disrepair and needed serious updating. The previous owner (who purchased it from our old landlord) did some major renovations so all we had to do was move in and enjoy. 
What makes this story even more special? Two words:
Runty
and
Tigre
A momma cat had 6 kittens on the front porch of the house 9 years ago. One of  Thomas’ roommates and I had all the cats spayed/neutered and fed them. All of them slowly disappeared except Runty and Tigre remained for years. We tried evacuating with them but they were too feral and we feared they’d hurt themselves from the stress. Even after Katrina brought water right up to the porch these cats still stuck around. Now they are inseparable from us and hang out on the back porch, waiting for us to feed and pet them. Oh yea and they remember their names after us being gone for over 4 years.
So if any TV execs want a New Orleans home improvement story, it doesn’t get much better than that. 

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