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French Quarter, New Orleans

A four story brick building had been altered over the years and the current owners wanted a few more - with minimal intrusion -  to the 1838 building in the middle of the historic French Quarter. Aesthetic design direction included to NOT make it look opulent.; two chandeliers, crown molding, and ceiling medallions were already in place so to balance, lines were kept clean, a bright color scheme was pared down and textures were kept simple. Bridging the old with the new while maintaining irreplaceable finishes like 180 years of paint, two bathrooms were overhauled, a powder room added, one wall sliced through to open up a cramped galley kitchen and showcase the classic windows leading to the gallery and Royal Street life below. 


The process

Around 1995 the main hall was incorporated into a kitchen / storage closet and the front door was cut in half to make an entrance into a kitchen. To follow the Historic Preservation intent of 'minimal intrusion', the altered door was removed and the wall opened to reveal the third gallery window.  A plaster ceiling medallion was saved, repaired, re-installed and plaster crown molding fabricated.

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Because the hall stairs are 180 years old and cantilevered, a crane was hired to swing the fridge over the gallery and through the window (the tourists loved it) after waiting for the carriage (of course) which caused the appliances and marble to arrive at the same time.

Reclaimed long - leaf pine (extinct now) replaced some of the damaged original floor boards.

To keep the space from looking too matchy - matchy and subtly enhance the age, a mixture of metal finishes were chosen; brushed brass, iron to complement the exterior veranda, and stainless as if the hardware had been replaced over the years. Original chrome knobs on the parlor doors and white and black porcelain knobs on others followed this idea. To show off the height in the 3' x 5' x 9' high powder room, a brass Tom Dixon pendant hangs over the toilet throwing speckled light.

Local woods such as pecky cypress for the master vanity and reclaimed long leaf pine (extinct) to match floor boards (with like kind) in the main room, and oyster shell tile play off the regional visual flavors. Toile pillows and a cane base on the bed keep it French sub-tropical.

In the back or side of many residences in New Orleans is a dependency - seen outside the master bedroom window in the photo above. A slice of a building housing the separated kitchen since fire was such a threat, the intent was to update the bath and kitchenette as a guest suite. Design decisions started with the original marble mantle bridging the past with old fashioned finishes and straight forward design. All furniture (except Moroccan pouf) was owners. 

Custom, hand fabricated antique glass was installed as a back-splash (in main pantry too) and plaster walls were finished to a marmorino polish. Antiqued slate floors and a rare piece of marble with lots of veining compliment the fireplace that had both original and replaced marble elements. All grills were custom; bargeboard shelves and a pop-up outlet on the kitchen counter save space.

A few rough edges endured in the space that had settled to over 7" out of plumb. Original plaster and decades of paint and paper provide the backdrop to a black and white photo of young musicians in Treme. Linen Roman shades and a black cage fan proved privacy and ventilation to the quiet space overlooking the inner rooftops of the Vieux Carre.


General Contractor - Leo Duvernay

Marmorino plaster finish; Wax finish dependency fireplace to preserve paint; Antiqued glass - Ann Marie Auricchio, AM Finishes

Kitchen cabinets - Leslie Lomont-Relayson - Cabinets by Design

Window Treatments - Blythe Wren, Wren's Tontine Shade & Design

Custom nightstands and bath vanity - Sean Chaney, Central City Millworks

Photo (dependency) "Class got Brass" - Eli Mergel

Photos (parlors, master bedroom) -Frank Relle

Mediterranean Tile, Tuscan Stone, Stafford Tile & Stone, Nola Rugs, Poliform, DOP Antiques, Renaissance Interiors

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