Name: Kerry Maloney
Location: French Quarter — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; Rented
Six rows of neatly displayed wigs decorate a brick wall in Kerry Maloney’s French Quarter apartment. They’ve been collected from Mardi Gras costumes throughout the years. They’re decked out with stars and plumes, birds and elaborate handmade crowns. There’s the French aristocrat, the drum major, the conehead, and the wizard. Like the dozens of framed snapshots that cover the opposite wall, each of these wigs holds a memory and tells a story of spirited camaraderie.
“Mardi Gras has been so important to me,” Kerry explains, “It’s a thing that’s grown with me and my friends.” Kerry and her comrades have made an annual tradition of selecting a group costume theme for parading on Fat Tuesday. They start creating their festive ensembles as soon as each new year begins. “After New Year’s, it’s just glitter and glue until Mardi Gras,” she says with a smile, “The excitement of it just builds. And having the most glitter means winning.” Past themes have included aliens, sea creatures, a marching band and Vikings – complete with a shopping cart decorated as a ship.”
See Mardi Gras costume creativity in action! → Kerry's Dramatic New Orleans Costume Style
When Mardi Gras day finally arrives, the friends are awake before dawn. They paint their bodies, transform into character, and make their way to the Bywater neighborhood to march with The Society of Saint Anne, a walking club of merry revelers dressed in the most elaborate and over-the-top costumes imaginable. “We spend all day dancing in the streets, hugging and laughing. It’s the most glorious day ever,” Kerry gushes, “I can’t believe I lived for 22 years without Mardi Gras.”
When Kerry, a wedding photographer with a background in journalism, moved to New Orleans, she never thought about living in the French Quarter. “It didn’t seem like anyone lived here,” she explains. But something kept pulling her back to the neighborhood. When she spotted a rental sign in the window of a duplex with a porch – a rarity in the Quarter – she knew it was where she wanted to live.
Six years later, Kerry is still happy with her choice. “There’s always something going on here. Everyday someone walks by playing an instrument. Every week there’s a parade within earshot.” Even though she lives in an area heavily-trafficked by tourists, Kerry still feels a sense of community in her neighborhood. Her next door neighbor Jim has lived in the other half of her duplex for over 20 years and Catherine, who is in her 90s, has lived in the Creole Cottage across the street since the 1960s. “We look out for each other,” Kerry says.
Apartment Therapy Survey:My Style: My style is fun and practical. Every part of my small apartment needs to be functional, especially since I work from home. The art on my walls is photos of my friends and families, reminding me of the fun trips and adventures we’ve been on, and my wig shelves are functional since in New Orleans we use them regularly and many are reminders of Mardi Gras past.
Inspiration: I decided I would redesign my apartment after a visit from my friend Amanda who has a very DIY spirit and who introduced me to Apartment Therapy. Living in the French Quarter, my house had become a crash pad for every person I have ever met who happened to be passing through the city. I had a huge sectional leftover from when I used to have a big house in Idaho, it was hard to do much with it in my small space but it slept two people. My first step was to get all new furniture, including a table — very grown up of me. It just so happened my best friend in the city Jaclyn was moving to L.A. a place where she decided she would not be needing her wig collection. They quickly became the centerpiece of my living room. I think I lost most of the grown-up feel I was going for but added color and fun and just as many wonderful Mardi Gras memories as my photo wall. I bought mostly everything online, Mid-century modern became my Google search and all the random knick-knacks and colors keep it from being too bogged down in that style.
Favorite Element: Aside from the wigs, I love my table. Even though I don’t sit at it as much as I would like, it’s so nice to have a place to put your mail when you walk in the door.
Biggest Challenge: First and foremost this is an office. I work from home so a clean, comfortable desk is number one. Also the long, narrow shape of the apartment, which is a standard ‘shotgun’ style in New Orleans.
What Friends Say: Can I crash here this weekend? Haha
Biggest Embarrassment: There is a lot I would do with the bathroom structurally if I owned this place. I would also love to change out the light fixtures in the main room, but it’s hard to live in New Orleans without ceiling fans.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen; deciding to keep the cupboards open. I really thought the kitchen was a lost cause, but making it bright and useable was such a revelation. Since it’s essentially a hallway to the bedroom, there is no hiding it. I treated myself to a Le Creuset dish set when I finished my kitchen.
See Kerry's kitchen transformation → Before & After: Kerry's Colorful & Quick Rental Kitchen Makeover.
Biggest Indulgence: Probably the couches. Wow is furniture expensive. I do wish I would have bought one sofa sleeper instead of two couches.
Best Advice: I ordered everything around the same time, and the measuring in my head wasn’t quite right. I wish I would have brought each piece in one at a time and then decided what was next. I’m an incredibly impulsive person though.
Dream Sources: I used a lot of Apartment Therapy, Joss and Main, and googling Mid-Century Modern
PAINT & COLORS
- Kitchen: Clark + Kensington, semi-gloss in Queen Bee (129A340; Ace Royal Interiors, flat in Tropical Teal (183A340)
- Trim throughout: Ace Royal, flat (183A310)
- Living Room & Bedroom: Color matched from a paint chip, Ace Royal, Flat 183 (170A340)
- Bar: The bar is actually a record player. I’m holding for a good friend; it belonged to his grandmother.
- Fischer Price record player: It was mine as a child - it still works great!
- Decanter: Antique
- Yellow Couch: Joss & Main
- Grey Couch: Fab.com
- Wig shelves: Ikea.com
- Silver standing lamp over desk: Joss and Main
- silver standing lamp over couch: Overstock.com
- Rug: Overstock.com
- Grey chair: overstock.com
- Curtains: second hand from a friend
- Armoire: Second hand antique from a friend
- End table: Ikea
- Glass sculpture on table: Made by my friend, glass artist Thomas Musolino
- Drums: used as end table, left over from mardi gras costumes.
- Desk and filing cabinet: Target.com ( not new pieces)
- Desk chair: I bought on the sidewalk for $20
- Bike: Failurebikes.com
- Plant shelf: Target
- Throw pillows: World Market
- Louisiana Throw pillow: Parish Ink
- Upholstered bench (used as coffee table): This came from a thrift store in Boise, Idaho. It matched a couch I used to have.
- Large vintage vase: Has cuts from my eucalyptus plant growing out front
- Little Eiffel tower: From my first trip to Paris last year.
- Succulent clippings: From my neighbor, in one of the many glass jars I've collected.
- Drums (used as side table): Leftover Mardi Gras props from the year my krewe went as a marching band.
- Wigs: Collected from Mardi Gras throughout the years; several were inherited from her friend Jaclyn.
- Table: ShopLadder on Amazon
- Chairs: Overstock.com
- Antique Armoire: Gift from friend Jaclyn
- Family photo over fireplace: My Great-Grandmother Frieda with her siblings and parents, who immigrated here from Germany. Photo is in the original frame.
- Photos on mantel: All family photos.
- Glittery shoe: This is a prized Mardi Gras “throw” from the all women Krewe of Muses.
- Barracuda jaw: I caught on a fishing trip with my Dad in Belize in 1993
- Pink silk flowers in Perrier bottle: Given to my mom when I was born
- Pipes on my Grandmother's photo: Belonged to my grandfather
- Elephant: Mahogany sculpture my grandparents (now deceased) got in Africa.
- Globe: Local antique store; it's fun to see how much the world has changed.
- Horns on Mantel: We used these on our "Viking ship" (shopping cart) for Mardi Gras one year. I have a lot of left over Viking horns in my wigs too.
- New Orleans Print: I got this at a shop in Chicago while visiting my sister who lives there.
- Bed - Joss & Main
- Lamps - Joss & Main
- Couch and armoire: antique given to me by friends
- Curtains: amazon.com
- Hanging candle lamps: World Market
- Big gold pirate ship: Le Garage antique store in New Orleans
- Smaller gold ship: Etsy
- Unframed steamship painting: Found on the road
- Photo of man: Found behind an antique painting when a friend was re-framing it. I liked it so much I re-framed him.
- Gold H: A decoration from a best friend's wedding.
- All my jewelry is art!
- Mirror: Garage sale
- Fruit photo: Belonged to my grandmother
- Rug: Overstock.com
- Dresser: belonged to my great uncle.
- Curio cabinet: Gift from friend Jaclyn
- My bedroom is much different from the bright fun living room. I have trouble sleeping and I wanted my bedroom to have soothing colors and feel cozy. I like having antiques and family heirlooms surrounding me.
- Mirror over desk: Antique store in Maine.
- Mask over desk: Gift from friends whose wedding I photographed. They brought it back from their honeymoon in Belize.
- Framed cards: Sent by my sister, I love Golden Girls (My dog is named Dorothy Zbornak)
- Racoon skull: Found by a biologist friend.
- Virgin Mary: Bought this at a roadside stand in Mexico on vacation a few years back.
- Rug: Fab Habitat on Amazon
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