Name: Ida Floreak and Tony Ziegler, cats Chuck and Bruce, and Harry the dog
Location: Uptown — New Orleans, LA
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Rented
Ida and Tony’s sunny house in Uptown New Orleans has a lot of "first home together" features: a mix of vintage and new furnishings, plenty of art and plants, collaborative DIY projects and happy pets. It is the classic starter home of generations past, when a couple with good jobs could afford an older home with fix-up potential. Now, faced with a housing market that excludes nearly all who can’t buy outright, Ida and Tony have learned the delicate balance of transforming a rental into a home and embracing the art (and reward) of making-do.
Ida and Tony moved to New Orleans independently, met soon thereafter, and proceeded to make a life together. For the past four years, that life has centered around this house—and it’s a good one, with spacious rooms, lovely high ceilings and original Southern yellow pine floors. New Orleans is a city with limited budget furniture resources—the closest IKEA is in Houston, Texas—and thrift stores can be hit-or-miss, with the climate taking its toll on many vintage pieces.
Tony and Ida both work in the film and television industry, and they are lucky to have picked up a lot of their furniture secondhand from sets, buying the pieces after the shows wrap. The result is an eclectic mix that speaks to the aesthetic of the couple but also the house itself. While the downstairs has an overall modern vibe, the master bedroom feels appropriately traditional, with the dresser, vanity, gentleman's butler and four-poster bed complementing the airy space.
Ida’s natural world collections—from crystals to insects to skeletons—provide a thematic framework for her paintings and the house's decor. And really, what more can you ask for in a starter home than a house with good bones?
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I’m [Ida] a painter, and my art deals a lot with the natural world. I have always collected things—leaves, rocks, insects, shells and skulls—and my home is now filled with these little treasures. My husband works in the film industry as a set dresser, and when a movie is finished he is often able to buy furniture from the sets at a steep discount. It makes for an eclectic mix of styles, but we like how most of our furniture has a story behind it.
Inspiration: I take inspiration mostly from the homes of friends. I have many creative friends who are furniture makers, textiles artists, painters, etc. Even if their aesthetic is different from my own, I like seeing the ways that they approach the challenges of their homes. I find it more accessible than anything in high-end design magazines and publications.
Favorite Element: Sunny kitchen and hardwood floors. Also, I was thrilled about the built-in china cabinet where I store many of the skulls and bugs in my collection.
Biggest Challenge: Not owning the home, it’s difficult to put down roots and feel truly at home. We like to do a lot of projects together and are looking forward to someday owning a home that we can make our own. We talk a lot about our dreams for our future home, and what we could do with this house if we owned it.
What Friends Say: Mostly, our friends are impressed by how much this house feels like us—like it’s our home and we’ve done the best with it that we can.
Biggest Embarrassment: Cat claws tearing up our furniture. They can always tell which pieces we like best. They also make it difficult to have as many plants as we’d like.
Proudest DIY: The bookshelf in the sewing room. We’ve made a lot of our furniture, and that’s our most recent and I think our best. I also have a bit of a book hoarding problem, and it’s nice to be able to display them beautifully.
Biggest Indulgence: The record player in the dining room was a big one. It needed some work when we got it, and we had a friend who re-wired the whole thing. It’s now one of our most beloved pieces.
Best Advice: Generally a less-is-more principal has worked well for us. The biggest thing that we can do to make a space feel right is to think about what items we really need. With my collecting habit and Tony’s movie set access, it’s easy to feel cluttered. Focusing on what elements we can live without has been an important process.
Dream Sources: When we own a house, we’d like to be able to indulge in good materials to build with. It doesn’t make sense for us renters to spend money on nice wood to redo cabinets or flooring.
PAINT & COLORS
- Entry: Valspar Blue Smoke
- Living room: Valspar Blue Smoke
- Kitchen (above): BEHR Koala Bear
- Bedroom: BEHR Ocean Pearl
- Bench: movie set
- Peacock painting and Audubon prints: from a friend who found them at a thrift store
- Couch: Modern Market
- Rug: West Elm
- Coffee table: World Market
- Wall shelving unit/room divider: vintage Scandinavian from a friend
- Mid-century chair: vintage, reupholstered with West Elm curtain fabric
- Lamp: movie set
- Red chair: thrift store
- Poster: movie set
- Dust storm painting: Ida Floreak
- Pink painting: Margot Denman
- Table: thrift store
- Chairs: thrift store
- Console: movie set
- Record player: move set
- Rug: IKEA
- Bar: movie set
- Wall art: German instructions from the record player
Butcher block island: built by Tony
Pot rack: designed and installed by Ida and Tony
Vintage dinette set: movie set
Photo: collaboration by Rebecca Herbert and Ida Floreak
- Bed: hand-me-down
- Rugs: thrift store, movie set
- Vanity: hand-me-down
- Dresser: Craigslist
- Sewing table: movie set
- Photo: collaboration by Rebecca Herbert and Ida Floreak
- Bookshelf: DIY
- Drafting table: movie set, World Market
- Shelves: IKEA, ages ago
- Animal skulls: yard sale
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Thanks, Ida & Tony!
(Image credits: Samara Vise)