Name: Chris Scheurich & Ali McNally
Location: Uptown; New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 3,541 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Owned
It all started in the summer of 2012 when Ali, who was working as a model, stylist, and fashion editor in London, flew to New Orleans to style a music video for a British grime rapper. Chris, a native of the Crescent City, happened to be working on the production. The two met on the set and fell in love. The couple bounced around between London, Louisiana, and Ali’s hometown of Toronto before ultimately deciding to put down roots in New Orleans. They got married in December 2014 and set up house and shop in an unusual property that Ali lovingly likens to a rabbit’s warren.
The grounds consist of two side-by-side buildings connected by a long, narrow space. Carved out within these two structures are the couple’s modest apartment, a rental unit, guest quarters, Chris’ framing workshop, and a commercial storefront for their boutique Neon Heart. Everything is connected through a web of passageways.
The property was purchased by Chris’ grandfather over half a century ago. Chris, who works for his family’s real estate business, has been renovating the buildings himself throughout his adult years. No matter where life has taken him, he has always found himself coming back to the property and working on it a little more. In addition to bringing the actual structures back to life, he included in each room something he’s made using salvaged materials: benches, tables topped with antique marble or wood, and beautifully framed mirrors.
The commercial space has a varied past—it’s been everything from a meat market at the turn of the century to a custom frock shop for college women in the mid 1900s. It was a record store in the 1970s and a recording studio after that. The renovation revealed remnants of the building’s past: dressing rooms and shelves hidden behind walls and hundreds of push pins stuck inside the hardwood floors.
It’s fitting that the couple lives in a building rich with history. They share a love of antiques and artifacts that connect them to spirits of the past. Their home is filled with sentimental collections of antique taxidermy, Victorian domes, religious iconography, old bottles, and photographs. They find beauty in things many others may find macabre. They feel a deep reverence for the lives represented by the animals and objects they display.
While many animal lovers find taxidermy offensive, Ali and Chris–who do not hunt and refrain from eating meat and animal products–have a different perspective. Ali explains: “I have never seen an issue with acquiring antique taxidermy. Most of our pieces date back to the Victorian era and we see it as a form of recycling; we are rescuing and cherishing things that have long since been discarded by their original owners. I feel it's sort of giving these pieces a life after death. They are so beautiful, at least to me.”
Ali says her many years of living in London deepened her love of Victorian aesthetics: “…Even the Victorian obsession with death and dying, I find very curious and beautiful. It was a time when customs and practices relating to death, and also marriage–we have a massive collection of French globe de mariee–were incredibly important. I find the sentiment behind these traditions actually rather sweet.”
Chris attributes his comfort with things that many would find somber to his New Orleans upbringing. He grew up tagging along with his father when he would photograph jazz funerals and Mardi Gras Indians, two cultures that celebrate life and death with great pageantry. “There’s an intense connection between life and death in New Orleans,” he says, “We celebrate life and death more than any other place.”
On display in the couple’s home is a pair of beaded Mardi Gras Indian patches that belonged to Chris’ dearly departed friend Larry Bannock, Big Chief of the Golden Star Hunters. “His funeral,” Ali says, “was one of the most incredible, beautiful spectacles I have ever seen.”
Such is life in this soulful and enchanting city, where the spirits are invited to linger among us and work their magic. It's a story we here time and again: people like Ali come from far and wide and never leave.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Eclectic
Inspiration: Travel, Victorian era interiors, family friends’ homes growing up, church altars, museums, and art galleries
Favorite Element: Difficult to pick just one...
Biggest Challenge: Working with the long narrow living room space.
What Friends Say: Our place is a labyrinth!
Biggest Embarrassment: Laundry room.
Proudest DIY: I fully renovated the whole space myself, so all of it.
Biggest Indulgence: Antiques
Best Advice: Surround yourself with things you love
Dream Sources: 1stdibs
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore Flat White
- Benjamin Moore Eggshell White
- Bench: made by Chris from salvaged beam from prior renovation
- Treadmill and spin bike: Craigslist
- Antique taxidermy goat: estate sale
- Chicken (turquoise) and Chicken (purple sapphire) prints: by New Orleans-based artist Artemis Antippas
- Sofa: CB2
- Coffee table: made by Chris from found marble and salvaged lumber
- Antique typewriter stand for TV: gift
- Antique glass cabinet: Jefferson Flea Market
- Antique marble table lamp: gift from friend
- Rug: World Market
- French marble top table: Renaissance Interiors
- Antique sofa: garage sale
- French 1920s antique chair: Renaissance Interiors
- Large format black and white photos of James Booker: by Jim Scheurich
- Antique taxidermy foxes: Renaissance Interiors
- Antique stag mount: Magazine Antique Mall
- Vintage 1960s Fender amps: bought in L.A. from original owner
- Vintage 1966 Fender Jaguar guitar: eBay
- Mirror: made by Chris from antique glass and salvaged wood
- Island: made by Chris from salvaged beams and found marble top
- Cabinets: Lowe's
- Antique taxidermy Canada goose: Renaissance Interiors
- Mexican nicho shadowbox cross: Brixton Market, London
- Flaming Heart by Mitchell Gaudet: gift
- Stools: industrial supply
- Antique African masks: one from Chris' grandmother and the other two from the original Retro Active
- Various French Victorian Globe de Mariee: various antique shops
- 1860ss Civil War cavalry saber: Fields of Glory, Gettysburg, PA
- Antique Mardi Gras queen crown: Chris' grandmother’s from Nerius Ball, 1939
- 1930s Antique Samurai armour: Kyoto, Japan
- Mixed-media art: by Chris Scheurich
- Victorian hair art: Renaissance Interiors
- 1930s French leather club chair
- 1840s steel headboard: modified and restored in Canada
- Antique cowhide rug: flea market
- Antique New Orleans theater chairs: Renaissance Interiors
- Antique marble top dresser: DOP Antiques
- Persian rug: gift
- Antique marble top cabinet: inherited from grandparents
- Louis Philippe mirror: Renaissance Interiors
- Antique Victorian taxidermy partridge under glass: Renaissance Interiors
- African dog mask: Sunshine Shop
- Mirror: Goodwill
- Mirror: trash find
- Sofa: World Market
- Coffee table: DOP Antiques
- Dresser: inherited from grandfather
- Dining table: made by Chris from salvaged barge board
- Green leather chairs: Renaissance Interiors
- Mirror: made by Chris from salvaged wood
- Antique French butcher table: Renaissance Interiors
- German beer garden table: DOP Antiques
- 1920s French chair: Renaissance Interiors
- Mirrors: moulding made by Chris from salvaged trim wood
- Antique Victorian taxidermy birds under glass: Renaissance Interiors