Hi Everyone! Know I’ve been a little scarce lately. I scalded my main typing hand with hot oil while making fried chicken last month, spending 5 hours in the ER. A few days later, all of my email, email contacts and email folders were wiped out by a hacker. So it’s been a bit of struggle getting back up to speed!

Since then I attended KBIS, the largest kitchen and bath trade show in the country with some 400 vendors showing their wares. I had hoped to bring you back all kinds of new product introductions and insights into the future of kitchen and bath design, but honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed.

What did intrigue me was the host city, New Orleans. I had never been before and was fascinated by what I saw and experienced, so over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of what I saw and did during my week south of the Mason-Dixon. Following that, we’ll return to our more traditional Q&A format.

Today we’re going to look at some of the houses in the city’s famed Garden District; but before we do that, I feel it appropriate to begin with Katherine Hepburn’s famous monologue from 1937’s film Stage Door…

“Hello mother, hello dad, the calla lillies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower the calla lilly, suitable for any occasion, I carried them on my wedding day, and now, place them here in memory of one who has died…”

This, for me, sums up New Orleans quite well. Callas were in bloom everywhere…and yet…there was also a sense of death about this place…”to poor for paint and too proud for white wash.”

I spent a few days with friends in this house. When the driver pulled up, I gasped and said, “I didn’t know they lived at Tara!”

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At almost 6,000 square feet, they call it “the big house” for a reason. Built in 1854 for a cotton merchant, it has many of it’s original features including the dining room’s electrified gasolier (seen below) and the sexiest spring on a hinge I’ve ever seen, copper-plated and on the swinging door from the kitchen.

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I was billeted in the 1000 square foot guest house at the back of the landscaped property, which while bucolic, is still very much in the middle of the city. Ann Rice’s former home is around the corner, as is Nicholas Gage’s.

Most nights a mocking bird shrieked to the moon light, all night, as I creaked open the iron gate to the property and tip-toed through the garden, around plantings, planters, hedges and fountains. The book/film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was VERY present as I keyed my door.

I didn’t think to take a picture of my little house which I mostly saw late at night, or maybe, I was just too creeped out that the shutters were nailed shut? During a thunder and lightening storm one night the flash breaking through the louvres kept me up and listening for ghosts and ax murderers.

Over-all New Orleans is amazing for the wealth of period homes that are still standing, block after block, 150+ years later. During the mid-19th Century, New Orleans held 1/3 of the nation’s entire monetary value, which explains a lot. In every direction you go there’s one magnificent property after another. The house directly across the street was undergoing a complete gut, large addition and a dig for a new swimming pool.

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Working our way around the neighborhood, we saw the following homes in various states of repair and refurbishment. Some were pristine, some down-at-the-heels. All wonderful!

Tara in town anyone…

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Spanish Style…

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Yalla (yellow) as forsythia…

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Sea Captain’s folly…

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Creole style…with the stairs outside and no interior hallways…

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Hidden among the elms…

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Ready for rockers on the porch…

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Victorian Brick-A-Brack in a really awful salmon pink…

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This house was SO BIG that I couldn’t get into one shot. Honestly, I think it looks like a bank…a casino…or a brothel

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Elegance is not determined by size…

 

More Victorianna…

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This was just a beautiful house… The one below has great Gothic touches at the windows and along the porch

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In the end, wouldn’t you just want to come home to this?

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NEXT WEEK: Shopping Magazine Street a/k/a the design district

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