Before and After

Historic Rountree house saved by New Orleans renovator

New Orleans Rountree Bland House Courtesy Cygnette

This thing was ugly.  Dangerous too. When we moved into our home, looming behind us was a behemoth of a Gothic New Orleans mansion.  In its day, the Rountree house was a treasure, but through the years it became dilapidated- propped up with 2"x4"s and covered in blue tarp. 

Think I'm exaggerating?  Just read the articles below...

Over time, many people tried purchasing the historic home, designed by famed New Orleans architect James Freret.  However, caught up in a divorce proceeding, the owners were never willing to sell.  That is, until Andrea Bland came along.

Andrea is a true gift to New Orleans.  She's spearheaded incredible Uptown renovations, bringing homes many thought were too far gone back to their original glory.  She's been honored as Preservationist of the Year by the Preservation Resource Center.  It was a hard-earned title.  

When Andrea took on the 4,200 sq ft Rountree house, it was leaning a whopping 13."  A strong wind could have knocked this thing down.  Not to mention one of our famed New Orleans hurricanes.  Andrea straightened the home and stripped it down to the studs.  She then came back, carefully re-crafting every original detail, down to the ornate tin-lattice under the eves and the plaster medallions on the ceilings.

WGNO News reporter Deepak Saini followed her work on television.  Uptown Messenger writer Owen Courreges documented the progress in print.  Their research and storytelling weave an incredible tale.  The images are breathtaking.  Now complete, it's almost impossible to believe just how far Rountree... now Rountree-Bland...  has come.

-------------------------------

Read more (and check out BEFORE pictures) here:

Deepak Saini: Rountree Renovation: Preserving an iconic home

Owen Coureges: The slow, painful death of Josephine's leaning tower

Owen Courreges: The good, the bad and the ugly




Courtyard Oasis

There's a restaurant in New Orleans called Cafe Amelie that has the most...amazing...courtyard.  The first time I ate there, I knew that's what I wanted my own yard to feel like.  Years later, we're just about there! 

Our backyard was pretty hideous to begin, but we've slowly upgraded the permanent structures.  We removed ugly old trees, built a tall fence with modern horizontal lines and built a storage shed that seamlessly blends into the design. 

Next came the brick work.  Joey and I spent two long weekends expanding and redesigning the original brick patio.  We re-purposed old bricks for the new section, so it blends with the existing patio.  It's now centered in the yard and twice as big as it used to be!

The real show-stopper, however, were the brick planters!  I did the design and our incredible contractor Dragan executed the elaborate, overlapping brick work.  The design's soft curves contrast nicely with the geometric lines of the fence and the varying heights add another level of interest.

After practically buying out Perino's entire garden center and spending another weekend planting and installing the fountain and irrigation system, the makeover coming along nicely.  We still need to hardwire the fountain, add lighting, furniture and build a deck, but I think we have a great start!

Surprise visit offers a look at my old home's rich history

When you live in a 130 year old house, it's just assumed a whole lot of other people lived there too.  If walls could speak, mine would have plenty to say! 

A month or so ago, I got a call from my neighbor who was standing outside with a few tourists.  It wouldn't be the first time.  I once had an entire family stop by.  And another neighbor has said his family lived in my home too.

These sisters, Jane and Mary, told me their grandmother lived in the house.  Their excitement to see it again was utterly contagious.  I brought them inside, where they reminisced about holidays, cats and sewing machines, even getting a little teary at moments.

This morning, I was lucky enough to get an email from Jane, chock full of old photos from their childhood!  It brought me so much joy knowing we're helping preserve these memories... one floor board... one paint job... one renovation... at a time.


Shotgun tour takes you inside some long and skinny digs

New Orleans Shotgun Home Tour, Photo Courtesy Sara Essex Bradley

You can't even talk about New Orleans architecture without including the iconic shotgun!

There are plenty of myths, legends and folklore surrounding them.  My favorite it the old idea that you could shoot a gun through the front door and the bullet would go all the way through the back without hitting a single thing on the way!

Shotguns can be all sorts of different styles...

You have singles, doubles, camelbacks and side halls.  The only real requirement is that the roofline is perpendicular to the street.

Every year, the Preservation Resource Center allows people inside a handful of these homes to show how they can be updated for modern living.

If you'd like to check them out for yourself, tickets are still available!  They're $20 for members and $25 for non-members and available on the Preservation Resource Center website.

View renovation photos:

 

View home photos:

 

View my WGNO interview about the home tour here.

 

DIY Hydrangea Wreath

DIY Silk Hydrangea Wreath  

I decided to do something a little different for my grandmother for Christmas.  She had commented on a photo of a beautiful hydrangea wreath on my blog and I thought it would be fun to make one for her.  While she was in town for the holidays, we picked out the flowers and ribbon at Hobby Lobby and then I got to work!  I couldn't be easier to put this wreath together.  You'll need 7-8 large silk hydrangeas, wired ribbon, a wreath base, hot glue, scissors, wire cutters and wire.

  1. Lay out your basic design on the wreath to determine placement.
  2. Cut the stems off of your flowers using scissors or wire cutters.  Make sure you save the leaves and don't cut so close to the bloom that it falls apart.
  3. Hot glue your leaves onto your wreath base in a sporadic, but balanced pattern
  4. Hot glue your hydrangea blooms over the leaves in whatever color pattern you'd like.  Make sure they've evenly spaced and you leave room for the bow.
  5. Create a bow with wire or purchase one that's pre-made.   Leave "tails" that are roughly 2 feet long
  6. Hot glue your bow to the empty space on your wreath.
  7. Wrap the ribbon around the hydrangea blooms and secure with dots of hot glue.
  8. Trim the ends of your ribbon.
  9. C'est fini!