Vintage home style in the Big Easy Architect Leslie A. Courreges invites QueensOfVintage.com to look around her fantastic vintage home in the gorgeous Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana. Buying the house post-Katrina with her lawyer husband, and renovating it vintage style, the couple have combined vintage architectural flair with their exceptional eye for antique to create a home which is simply exquisite. Leslie takes us on a tour… Our home is located just outside of the Garden District in New Orleans, Louisiana in what has traditionally been a musician-heavy area of the city. We count Eddie Bo (Seventies Jazz funk extraordinaire) and the Marsallies family as neighbours. Our home is what is known as a camel-back shotgun, which is essentially a single-story house with a ‘hump’ in the rear portion accommodating a partial second-story. Legend holds it that the word ‘shotgun’ developed due to the shape of the home, which is elongated, and if the doors all match up, you could fire a shotgun straight through. To the best of our estimation, the house was built in the 1880s with a substantial renovation in the Thirties. The rumour is that a band member of Louis Armstrong’s grew up in the home, but we haven’t been able to confirm it yet. We bought the house post-hurricane Katrina and redid it in vintage style. In the 19th century large, wooden barges would forge the Mississippi, working their way down to New Orleans where they were broken down for scrap wood, which was then used to fabricate local residences. The framing of our home is thus referred to as ‘barge-board construction.’ The facade is typical of a working-class shotgun home, with a small porch covered by an overhang with ornate wooden brackets. When we purchased the home, the front door was some awful modern paneled affair, so we ventured forth to a local architectural antiques warehouse and located an period-correct door. Our entry features several antiques, including my husband’s small bayonet collection, ordered from the longest to the smallest. Next there is a functioning antique American Bosch radio from the Thirties. We have several antique radios and phonographs – all of which are (at least marginally) functional. Each of our first three rooms contain stenciling surrounding the border just below the picture railing. We elected to have a ‘dragonfly’ theme in order to accent the craftsman-style themes that permeate our home due to the early 20th century renovation. The bookcase is a prime example of Fifties ‘assembly-required’ furniture. It belonged to my husband’s father when he was a boy, and was an attic find when he moved to New Orleans. Our Twenties photograph bears the name of ‘Salon Decca.’ Decca was a major company, owning Universal Pictures before falling into bankruptcy, but is now merely a minor record label. The clock situated above the phonograph was my wedding gift to my husband. It’s a basic, nondescript, turn-of-the-century clock with an etched glass door over a brass pendulum. I sewed the velvet curtain you can see on the side of this picture myself and topped it off with a piece of 19th century French lace. This 1870s French roll-top desk is the oldest antique in the house. Although quite small, its many cubby-holes make it very convenient for storage. The lamp is a reproduction that matches the dragonfly stenciling. Our living area is offset by large bookcases that were apparently added during the Thirties renovation to replace the large pocket doors that most likely separated the two rooms originally. The large pillars are characteristic of the type of construction going on in New Orleans at that time. At the far end of the room is a 19th century streamer trunk from the New Orleans Trunk Company, which we discovered at an antique shop in Alvin, Texas while evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. On the far right are pennants from the Thirties through the Sixties representing the colleges that I and my husband have attended: Rice University; Tulane University; and Texas A & M University. Just below these pennants is an old family treasure, an oriental-style Forties brass lamp. Over the couch is a World War I era French War Bonds poster, featuring the flags of the Allies moving against Kaiser Wilhelm as he bears a broken saber. Our guest bed has another trunk in front of it – an oriental-style Forties chest that belonged to my great-aunt. The duvet cover and pillows were hand-sewn by myself, and embroidered French pillow shams from the Twenties adorn the pillows resting against the headboard. A Twenties Emerson fan bearing the phrase “built to last” sits atop an unusual Victorian table to the far right (the phrase is no cheap advertising gimmick – the fan works perfectly yet has never been restored). Nearby on the nightstand aside the bed is a display of vintage New Orleans postcards. Legend has it that houses in New Orleans were at one point taxed according to the number of rooms. Accordingly, homes were designed to minimise the number of small rooms, especially closets. Thus, our home was originally built sans closets – hence our purchase of a large Thirties walnut wardrobe to house my garments. Next to the wardrobe, underneath one of the original wooden mantles, is an ornate antique-French styled electric heater that we added to replace the fireplace that was removed at some point. The chimneys apparently blew off in some earlier hurricane, at which point the fireplaces were removed. The last remnants of the chimneys are contained in the attic. On top of the mantle rest several keepsakes, including a horse-head statue from Gabon, Africa, which was purchased by my husband’s father during his business travel. Other items include a Victorian silhouette, a vintage black velvet hat and a septia-toned, hand-tinted print of a swamp scene by local photographer George Long. Our kitchen was originally the back porch of the house. The walls and ceiling are both made from thin wood boards. The ceiling still has the pitch that tells of its former life as a porch. The handles of the cabinets are Milk Green Glass from House of Antique Hardware. The fan is the largest antique fan in our collection. This one is a GE from the Forties. The signs are metal reproductions from a favourite store on Magazine Street. We had always had a hankering for a vintage car, and so we were elated to find a partially-restored 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe for sale about two hours south of New Orleans. The colour is a modern Chevy green; the original colour was the regrettable green presently featured on tractors and children’s toys. The interior is original, although it has seen better days. The radio is modern, but has the original-style knobs and dials so as not to offend the integrity of the vehicle. With modern fuels, the engine sputters and coughs, but still performs quite well. This is our newest antique car. It is an unrestored 1950 Buick Special, noted for its exaggerated “dollar bill” grille. It doesn’t look like much now but we plan to paint it a candy-apple red that will be truly striking. Of course, we have to get it running first… 2 Responses Lena March 30th, 2009 What an amazing home but it’s the cars that really do it for me. That Buick is absolutely fantastic! The Red Velvet Shoe April 16th, 2009 Oooooooh, I love that vanity!