A Pro Organizer's New Orleans Home (Named Barbarella!)

A Pro Organizer's New Orleans Home (Named Barbarella!)

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Jacqueline Marque
Oct 11, 2016

Name: Tami Hills
Location: Central City — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,266 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 6 years

Tami Hills never imagined she would buy a move-in ready home. The professional organizer and DIYer dreamed of buying an old New Orleans house she could fully renovate. But after looking at nearly a hundred properties in a fiercely competitive market, she was exhausted. "I would fall in love and be outbid. It happened over and over again," she explained.

When she spotted a contemporary home, still under construction, her interest came as a surprise. The Central City property was the fourth of eleven affordable and environmentally-friendly homes that have been designed and built by Tulane Architecture students in struggling neighborhoods throughout the Crescent City after Hurricane Katrina. The style, which she describes as "clean, seamless, and easy," was a refreshing change from the properties she had previously considered. She placed an offer before the house even hit the market.

"I thought I was going to purchase an old shotgun, but I fell in love with the house. How could you not? She's amazing! She speaks for herself," Tami says with cheerful animation. Tami uses female pronouns when talking about her home. She explains,"My mom always named her cars when I was a kid, so I call my house Barbarella. She's sexy like the movie in the '60s."

Even though she fell hard for Barbarella, embracing a home with modern design elements was a challenge for Tami. "My core style isn't modern...I had to be cautious about how I would overlap and layer my more eclectic style within the space." Six years later, the happy, colorful, and bright home manages to feel peaceful and exuberant at the same time, much like Tami herself. Lime green and turquoise accents, colorful textiles and artwork, and an eclectic mix of decor, add a burst of personality and levity to the home's simple, streamlined design.


Tami's shares organization secrets → Tricks for Creating Stylish Storage Hidden in Plain Sight


A mural, Hope, painted on one side of the house by graffiti street artist MTO offers an element of surprise. Large windows, covered by a screening system made of structural insulated panels that slide, flood the interior with sunlight. A long back porch with a bright blue 14-foot church pew and a container garden filled with an abundance of thriving greenery, acts as an outdoor living room for Tami.

While she didn't buy the fixer-upper she always imagined, Tami seems to have ended up with the best of both worlds: a low-maintenance home that allows her the time to tackle ambitious DIY decor projects, like the large second line art piece displayed prominently in her living room. "Pretty much everything in my house I've touched in some way, shape, or form," she says. Tami's next big project: renovate the Scamp trailer parked in her back yard and hit the road for some travel.

Find this home's shopping sources → Eclectic, Contemporary & Colorful Style

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, Contemporary + Happy

Inspiration: Vintage finds, nature, textures and curves

Favorite Element: My coffee table on my back deck. It was the chopping block at the corner store meat market down my street. I found it leaning up against a dumpster, wrapped in metal and painted pepto-bismol pink around the edges. While some neighbors and I were painting the corner store as part of a community outreach program with Jericho Road, I asked one of the local guys if they could help me take it to my house (it weighs probably 300-400 lbs.) He put it on a dolly and walked it all the way to my house several blocks down the road. After I finally got it to look how I wanted it (stripped the paint, removed the metal, etc.), it took four guys to lift it and move it onto my deck. It's very theft proof. ;)

Biggest Challenge: From a design point of view, there really weren't many big challenges. The biggest challenge was a matter of me being patient with my time and budget so that I could infuse my style. My core style isn't modern, but because the house has modern design elements (it was created by the Tulane Urban Build program), I had to be cautious about how I would overlap and layer my more eclectic style within the space.

Modern design can be hard in this town because there aren't a ton of options for furnishing a modern space. It's an antique town with antique shops, so furnishing a modern space takes patience.

What Friends Say: "Tami, this house was really made for you."

Biggest Embarrassment: I'm not embarrassed easily. I would probably say the art category; not everything in my house is "real art." That takes time. So, in the meantime, I have "space fillers."

There's no built-in hidden storage like closets. As an organizer, it was tough to look at all my things in the open at first, but it also means I'm able to keep my things nice and orderly looking.

Love this home's style? Get the look with these shopping sources → Eclectic, Contemporary & Colorful Style

Proudest DIY: My Jazz fest second line art piece. It's when I first learned how to use a jigsaw, and it took an extremely long time to make it (probably three weeks). Second lines are a big deal in New Orleans, particularly in this neighborhood, and this art piece is a tribute to that.

My house is like a constant DIY project. True to artist style, I am always coming up with ways to improve and change it. Right now I have a canvas above my couch that's painted white and waiting for a new piece of art...I'm just waiting until I know exactly what I want to put there.

Biggest Indulgence: Living room bookshelf. It wasn't even very expensive, but I feel the size and scale is very indulgent. But, I believe it fits the space and provides exactly what I need...a home for my books, which I obviously really love.

Also my murals were very indulgent, both because of the cost and the commitment to a mural on the side of my home. Ultimately, I decided to go for it because I thought it would be an amazing lifelong experience. My house will forever be a part of the artist, MTO's portfolio.

Best Advice: When I first bought her, my friend said "Take your time, you own it."

Dream Sources: Garage sales, movie sales (a lot of things in my house are from the HBO show Treme), Craigslist... I'm not a retail girl. The thrill is in the hunt for me, and also in the recreation and bringing life back to old things. I like to fill my space with items that have have a story.

Thanks, Tami!


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