Slightly extravagant guest closet makeover

guest closet makeover

Yes, I fully comprehend that chandeliers in closets are completely unnecessary.  Some might say extravagant.  I don't care.

Our upstairs is one of the few places in our house that's almost completely renovated, save a few little details.  One of those details was the ugly yellow closet with an outdated 1970's light fixture, painted shelves, metal rod and broken bi-fold door.

I figured it would be an easy weekend project to replace the door and spruce it up.  As usual, I was wrong!  The entire project ended up taking about three weekends, but it was too much fun to quit with a new rod and door.

Hanging the solid wood door was a challenge and that was just the start.  I also painted the walls and trim, hung a small chandelier, had new shelves cut at Home Depot and covered them with spray glue and wallpaper, installed a new rod... and finally... added the cherry on top with an antique crystal doorknob from Ricca's.

The changes brighten up our tiny closet so much.  I hope it'll be a sparkling little treat for our guests for years to come!

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

Where's my porch!? Exterior demo begins

historic exterior home renovation

It's actually happening!  After three years of interior renovation, the complete exterior overhaul of our 125 year old historic home is finally getting underway.

The process took months before work could even begin.  We worked with architect Daniel Zangara from Zangara + Partners to design an exterior facade that would be more fitting with the era of the house.  At some point, I believe the house was "upgraded" to a poorly done Arts and Crafts style.  Since purchasing the house three years ago, I've wanted to bring it back to how it would have originally looked in 1890.  

Working with Daniel and the New Orleans' Historic District Landmarks Commission, or HDLC, we finally agreed on a beautiful design.  The brick foundation, stairs and deck will be completely replaced.  The vinyl siding will be replaced with wood, columns changed out for a new design, fascia upgraded to include dental molding, shutters added, railings installed, roof upgraded, rafters cut back, the list goes on and on.

Even though we're still in the early stages, I can already see my dream becoming a reality!

exterior architectural drawing

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!!


Neo-Classical Minimalism in New Orleans

Shaun Smith Design, Courtesy Times-Picayune New Orleans' Times Picayune recently had an incredible article on designer Shaun Smith's latest project, which was just too good not to share!

According to the article, Smith bought the 1930's era home in the Fontainebleau neighborhood.  Describing the renovation, Keith Marshall writes, "Gone are the paneled front door and the sinuous lines of ultramarine blue that outlined the home's neo-classical pediment. Now, a clean-lined gas lantern fills the space above a new, charcoal-framed front door that enlivens the all-white facade."

The interior is as stunning as the exterior.  Apparently, the staircase is the only original feature that remains in the house.  Out with the old, in with a minimalist transformation!

You can check out some of the incredible pictures below and read the article here.  Also, make sure to check out Smith's Magazine Street boutique, aptly called Shaun Smith Home.