arts and crafts

Beau roars along with vintage car-themed birthday

Little kids only turn two once and the theme for Beau's second birthday couldn't have been more obvious. CARS! This toddler is obsessed with anything that goes: cars, trucks, planes, boats, you name it.

It's been months since the bash, but it was such a fun theme, I still wanted to share!  For decor, I gathered a number of vintage decorations and toys from around the house.  The next time you have a party, I highly encourage you look around and see what useable stuff you already own. It'll be classier than anything from the party store and the best part... it's free!  

I blew up a couple photos of Beau in his favorite cars and hung them on the wall.  I also created cute signs with wooden placards from the craft store, stick-on letters, craft paper and photos.

We munched on chocolate checkered flag cake, stoplight brownies, and Cracker Jacks, along with some savory snacks for both kids and adults.

I also spray-painted small cardboard boxes, hot-glued on mason jar lids for wheels and let the kids decorate their own box cars will stickers and markers.  I think the adults had just as much fun as the little ones!

Exterior renovation gets underway!

Front Elevation without Parapet, Courtesy: Zangara + Partners The time has finally come!

We're tackling the biggest project in our home renovation... the exterior... and we're finally hiring some pros.  Most of our renovation has been DIY, but the ugly facade of our home is much more complicated.

Because our neighborhood is historic, all exterior renovation needs to be approved through the Historic District Landmarks Commission or HDLC.  They're notorious sticklers, so getting approval for any exterior work is never an easy process.

We did some research and found an architect that we really like.  His name is Daniel Zangara and he has a small firm called Zangara + Partners that does beautiful work.  In fact, his firm built the home of the the NBA Pelican's General Manager, Dell Demps.  Demps' Uptown house is new construction, but you'd never know it from the rich historic detail.

While choosing an architect was easy, tracking the history of our home was not.  The only photo we could find was an undated picture of our neighbor's Gothic mansion, where you can see a little glimpse of our small house next door.  Daniel also tracked down and old newspaper ad from 1914, in which the property was listed as a “pretty little cottage” with “seven rooms” for rent at a cost of $30.

The property was auctioned in 1919 and again in 1923.  Mr. William J. Ford, Sr. and family lived at the residence in the 1940s.  Their son, Captain Thomas J. Ford received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his bravery during World War II!

It's been an interesting and at times, frustrating, scavenger hunt.

I assumed our home was Greek Revival, renovated to an Arts and Crafts style in the 1930s.  However, after looking at the existing architectural detail, poring over the research and taking a trip into the attic, Daniel believes it was simply a New Orleans "cottage."

Unfortunately, that doesn't give us a clear direction.  Our original design included a parapet, which we've determined wasn't in keeping with the original home.  So, we revised the plan to include some of the Greek Revival elements I love, without straying too far from a classic cottage.

I found inspiration in the books New Orleans Houses by Lloyd Vogt and New Orleans Architecture, Volume I: The Lower Garden District, and Daniel revised the original drawing to something slightly more simple, but still gorgeous.  It includes adding decorative brackets, changing the pillars, nixing a staircase and adding railings, new lighting and shutters.

Now, let's just hope the HDLC loves it as much as we do.  I'll keep you posted!!