Shawn O’Brien’s Mid-City home is directly linked to his love of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest.
âThis is one of the homes I have coveted for 25 years,â said O’Brien, who used to walk past North Dupre Street until Jazz Fest. The self-proclaimed festival fanatic attended every day of the event every year. “I love Bayou St. John, and the neighborhood just has this incredibly euphoric vibe to me.”
O’Brien, an interior designer, was comfortably settled in a century-old white cottage she had revived in Uptown when she decided to seek out property in the Bayou St. John area and start a new chapter of the nest. empty.
Although she says homes in the area are often passed down from generation to generation, she hired a real estate agent and gave him a checklist of requirements.
âIt had to be architecturally special – I wanted big bones,â she said. âIt had to be renovated; I didn’t want to live in someone else’s renovation. And there had to be room for my studio.
The real estate agent sent him a list for the 1890s Central Hall chalet, which had long been a favorite, and O’Brien felt destined to be a part of his story.
âI’ve always been interested in the stories that old houses tell us,â she says.
The competition was fierce. There were 11 bids on the house, which had been split into four apartments, but O’Brien got the house. After renovating three houses over the years, she knew she wanted to restore the original features such as the central hall, doors and windows.
She also wanted to empty and replace the two apartments at the back of the house with a single relaxed living space that combines kitchen, living room and dining room; fit out the attic for a guest bedroom and bathroom on the second floor, and a studio with plenty of space to house its vast library of fabrics; and add a back porch for the entertaining Jazz Fest. There is still a third apartment on the ground floor but could easily be integrated into the main house.
Together with architect Jenny Zurich, she kept the project profitable by designing a layout that worked within the existing window frame and still housed the already well-edited furniture collection from her old cottage from the same period.
She also used creative and budget-friendly ways to achieve an upscale look, like choosing a sturdy, reasonably priced fabric for the drapes and then splurging on the trim.
âYou can use expensive things wisely,â she said.
Among her clients, O’Brien is known for her emphasis on comfortable seating and charming, colorful fabrics. The living room, which features both a rose-pink, dark gray-green, and sage color palette, began, as many of its bedrooms do, with fabric – a vintage-inspired floral. O’Brien used the fabric for the pillows and worked around them.
She also became passionate about wallpaper. She searched for several years before choosing the quaint pink and gray paper illustrated with rows of Parisian houses that dresses the master bathroom, the pink and green vine-striped floral of the living room (as close as she could find with the wallpaper that was in her grandmother Edith’s dining room) and the pictorial profusion of Vermeer flowers on a wall in the powder room.
âThe walls of the house are so high that I knew I wanted to set it up comfortably, but I waited to find the right papers,â she said.
The informal way O’Brien lives adds to the comfort. The living room at the front of the house retains its original features but is used as a master bedroom with crisp white linens against a gray background rather than a formal sitting room.
The same simple palette is found in the master’s personalized closet, which O’Brien designed, literally, to accommodate every square inch of his wardrobe, and in the updated bathroom.
âI am drawn to elegant furniture and fabrics,â she said. “But I prefer them in a chalet where they don’t feel so intimidating.”
The colorful art, some of which comes from the Jazz Fest, and the way the pieces are mixed together “relax” the setting, O’Brien said. Antique painted Italian chairs that might rarely be used in a traditional dining room are used daily around the Indonesian dining table in the main living space.
The neighborhood was a comfortable fit, like the chalet. O’Brien describes his street as “the tightest block in the city of New Orleans”.
When the Jazz Fest was canceled, residents banded together to form âBell Fest,â a series of neighborhood parties with live music. When Mardi Gras was canceled, they created floating floats around a âBelles of Bell Streetâ theme that included odes to Leah Chase and Chris Owens.
âI have to pinch myself, I can’t believe I can live here,â O’Brien said of his forever home. âFor me, it’s the story of this house. I was supposed to be in this house. I’m only one block from the Ursulines, and I think the Ursulines and the Esplanade are the two most beautiful streets in town.
âThis neighborhood and this house make my heart sing. “
TOP OF THE RANGE, LOW COST
O’Brien’s budget tips for a high-end look
Choose an inexpensive fabric for big budget items like curtain panels and slipcovers then splurge on the trim. âThe toppings market has exploded,â said O’Brien.
Choose a similar fabric like poly-taffeta or Ultrasuede. They are more resistant to wear and cost less.
For the pillows, choose the fabric you must have and ignore the cost because you need it so little. One way to save, however, is to use placement fabric for the front of a pillow and inexpensive fabric or leftover for the back.
Use a dramatic wall color to breathe new life into things you already own.
Dress up flat curtain panels on tie rods with a clean valence decorated with buttons or decorative elements.
Get a personalized bedding look by buying inexpensive white matless blankets, pre-wearing them to shrink, and having a seamstress stitch them together to fit your bed. O’Brien buys two queens for a king bed and has an enlarged center panel with two side panels. The fit is personalized and the labor is inexpensive because the edges are already finished.
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