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New Orleans Cottage Renovation: An Intro

I’m writing this post at the shop after eating a peanut butter sandwich for lunch that I made this morning at home on top of a short bookshelf that’s shoved into the corner of an enclosed, peach sun porch, next to a hotplate. The conditions are a flashback to dorm room life, and it’s the not-so-glamorous side of home renovation…. but it’s the current chapter of a fun story.  My husband Jeremy and I got married in June of 2016 and started searching for a historic home in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans.  If you’re not familiar with the New Orleans real estate market, the home search is no easy task.  New Orleans has charming houses aplenty… but the families who want the charming houses are more aplenty.  We got outbid twice, looked at lots of no-gos, and were starting to get antsy / think we might have to settle on something or some neighborhood we didn't love.  Jeremy had moved into my apartment after we got married, which caught on fire two days after we got back from our honeymoon, after which we lived with his parents for a while and in a temporary apartment next to Tulane, which had previously been college housing. (thats all a long story for another day!) The short version: we needed a a stroke of housing luck.  And then, one Saturday, while sharing chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House, we got an email with a new listing.  The decor in the house was a little offbeat, the wall colors were terrible, and the shutters in front were falling apart.  But…I could tell it was special.  

We made a viewing appointment immediately, said an extra prayer to St. Joseph, and four months later, we’re living in it! It's without a kitchen (hence the peanut butter sandwich making on a bookshelf) and currently has only one bathroom with a faulty shower head... but it's better every day.

Since Uptown is a popular neighborhood, and has been under gentrification for a while, there are lots of old cottages (and grand homes, too!) that have already been re-done.  The houses that Jeremy and I viewed usually fell into two categories:  completely redone, but not to our taste (which made them more expensive and in need of being redone with our touches anyway…)  or in dire straits and in need of a complete overhaul, so we would have had to continue renting while the work was being done (which wasn’t practical for our budget).  The house we found was really in a sweet spot.  It’s in need of work, but now that we have the plumbing and re-wiring done, most of the work is cosmetic.  We decided not to drastically change the floor plan ( (Please don’t tell Chip and Joanna, but I like walls separating rooms! ) and stick to what Jeremy could do himself with as little help from a contractor as possible.  

So.  Without further ado, I’ll give you a little virtual tour of the “before”.

It's a classic New Orleans shotgun cottage, built around 1890.

This is the front of the house.  That lemon tree in front had to go, but not without giving us a few whiskey sours first. Previous owners took the porch off at some point, but it'll be back ASAP.

You walk directly into a very peach entryway that leads to a long, enclosed sunporch that stretches the length of two bedrooms.  

The front room, off the entryway.  Those tall windows will lead onto the front porch!

The original shutters from the side sun porch are still there, and they open/close in front of the doors that lead to the bedrooms.

The side porch leads into an eggplant dining room and kitchen, which was very much in need of being gutted (and now is). There's also a small bonus room behind the kitchen that will be a guest room and open into the backyard for entertaining. 

The best for last.  Unicorn doors in the entryway!  These were supposed to sell in an estate sale, but didn't. (shocker?)  They're up for grabs if anyone is interested!

Anna and I trying to blog here more regularly, and I’d love to start a weekly (or so) post where I update all of you on the renovations… and maybe enlist your help for inspiration and tips!



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  • Amanda - Life at Cloverhill on

    This house has so much potential! The fireplaces, sunporch and grand windows are fantastic. We’re in the middle of restoring our own 1903 farmhouse in rural Ontario and it always amazes me the things that we come across. Just today, we took down some drywall in the powder room and found the framing for a window inside. No idea why it was there, but it sure adds to the mystery. Looking forward to following along on your renovation adventures as well :)

  • Kelly - Talk Of The House on

    What a fabulous project! Love the doors, shutters, and transom windows! Best wishes with it all.

  • Carly A. Heitlinger on

    The unicorn doors, hahaha! Honestly so impressed… looks like a labor of love!


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