Name: Margaret Sche and Gabe Belgara
Location: Uptown — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented
Theirs is a Texas love story. Margaret can thank her mom for insisting she join her for some live country music and two-steppin’ on that fated Friday night when she met Gabe at Blanco’s. The beloved Houston dance hall—now closed—was one of Gabe’s favorite honky-tonks, and sparks flew when the two met. “I was mesmerized by the pretty girl with snakeskin boots,” Gabe recalls. “He definitely was scoping me out pretty hard, so that was the first thing I noticed,” Margaret says. “Once he approached me, it was his eyes that drew me in, until we hit the dance floor, and he was a real good dancer.” One dance led to another; small talk led to plans to get together again, which led to where they are now.
Fast forward two years and Gabe and Margaret are living in New Orleans and preparing for the arrival of a son. They plan to name him Lockett Cash, in honor of Margaret’s great-great-uncle Reese Lockett, a well-known Texas cowboy and rodeo performer, and the famous singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. Classic country songs are playing on the radio, which is set to “Willie’s Roadhouse,” and the pair are finally relaxing after weeks of rearranging the second floor to make room for a nursery. After some clever reworking, they managed to carve out a nice hallway workspace for Margaret. Rows of beautiful hats, which they both have been collecting for many years, cover the wall above her desk. “I like to use objects and clothing in a decorative way,” Margaret says. “They are all special and have a lot of character, so why not display them?” Moving the office made way for Lockett’s room, which is lovingly decorated with references to memorable times the couple have shared in places like Los Angeles, Mexico City, Marfa, Austin, Nashville and New Orleans.
The couple left Houston a little over a year ago when Gabe, an industrial designer in the oil and gas industry, landed a great job in New Orleans. While they are loving their new life together in the Big Easy, their Uptown home is a clear reflection of their passion for the Southwest. Margaret, a creative consultant with a background in merchandising and fashion styling, has a gift for weaving visual references together to create a narrative. The story this home tells is one of deep Texas roots, a shared love of music and travel, and a deep sentimental connection to their family heritage.
Margaret’s aesthetic is tied to to her lifelong connection to horses and the happy times she’s spent at her family’s log cabin, The Antlers, built by her great-grandfather on Lake Cherokee. “It is still exactly the same as it was when he made it,” she says of the lake house, which is filled with old saddles, Navajo blankets, family photos, animal hides and mounted taxidermy. “I cherish this place, as it is one of the most authentic places I have ever spent time in. The family history is so present in here, and you can see where I get a lot of my inspiration.”
Gabe’s roots trace back to Mexico, where his grandparents were born before migrating to Texas. His youth was filled with elders’ stories of vaqueros and true grit. He recalls hunting for dove and deer in South Texas and fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. A poster-sized image of his grandfather, wearing a sombrero on his head and a gun on his hip, hangs above a doorway, and his metal butcher glove is displayed nearby. When Gabe’s interest in country music grew during his teens, he immersed himself in the urban cowboy scene at places like Gilley’s, Tin Hall, and Dance Town USA in Houston. You could say his love of honky tonkin’ eventually lead him to Margaret.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Classic with an eclectic twist. I [Margaret] love to layer different references together to create a very diverse story and to inspire. I've been collecting furniture, art, and objects for twenty years and I only keep the items that have meaning and tell a story. My tastes are based in classic references, but my lifestyle and passions have led me to integrate many different references together to create my personal interior style. Merging style with Gabe has brought out the masculine side of my interior design taste and channels our roots and love for the Southwest, music, and American Heritage design.
Inspiration: I am inspired by anything with soul, authenticity, and character. Color is a huge part of my design sensibility, so I am very inspired by the colors of Mexico, South America, and Africa and the way those cultures integrate bold mixes of color in everything that they do. I'm also inspired by nature, the landscapes and terrain of the Southwest as well as the history of cowboy culture and the Wild West. I am most inspired by people and their character, so I have accumulated quite a collection of vintage and new portraiture over the years.
Favorite Element: My career in the fashion industry has had a lot of influence on my design aesthetic and my merchandising skills. One of my favorite things to do in my house is to decorate with some of my special items from my closet. Why hide them in your closet when they are so special and have so much character? I've always enjoyed creating functional displays of favorite closet items and using them as art throughout the house. Here we showcase our love of hats, cowboy boots, denim, and huipiles.
Biggest Challenge: Limited space—we had just enough space with the two of us when we moved to New Orleans last year. Now, with a baby on the way, we have had some challenges! Converting our extra bedroom and my office into a nursery challenged us as to how we could get all the nursery essentials in one room and still be able to have an extra bed in there for guests. I also needed a place to set up my desk which ended up in the hallway, which actually is working out pretty well. Storage is a huge issue in these old New Orleans Victorians (ours was built in 1890), so I have had to learn how to purge more than I have in the past! Also, our kitchen is TINY and we both love to cook so that has been a major challenge.
What Friends Say: Friends love our place and always comment on how warm and inviting it is as well as how much of a reflection of our combined style our place is. We always get the comment, "Wow, there is so much to look at!" There are conversation starters all over our house and many stories to tell over a good glass of tequila.
Biggest Embarrassment: I can't think of one.
Proudest DIY: I generally do not think of myself as a DIY person so this is a tough question for me! In this house we have done a few things together that I am proud of. Our favorite is the gallery wall we created in our bedroom. We had a really great time merging many of our favorite and special things into that wall together which we call our "love wall.” Both sides reflect different things about each of us and represent the combination and balance of feminine and masculine energy that we bring together. It is a very special part of the house to us because of the time we shared while doing it together and because of what it represents to each of us and our union.
Biggest Indulgence: Definitely art. I am a sucker for collecting and buying art and photography and we currently have so much that we can't hang everything that we own. If something speaks to me, I have to take it home, even when I'm not sure where I will place it. Sometimes I might completely re-decorate a room just to accommodate a new piece of art. We both look forward to our next place having more walls to display our whole collection!
Best Advice: Buy things that speak to your soul and represent your loves, interests, and passions, and you will always have a house that people will feel comfortable in. I can't stand hanging out in a house where everything is bought from one store and there is no story to tell. Your house should be a reflection of your inner self, not of your financial ability to buy things to fill up a space.
Dream Sources: RTH shop in Los Angeles, Jay Jeffers studio and store, Frida Kahlo's house in Coyoacan, Garza Marfa furniture, St Cecilia Hotel in Austin, TX, Condessa DF Hotel in Mexico City, Ralph Lauren's RRL Ranch in Colorado.
- Green chairs: friend and interior designer Jay Jeffers
- Vintage hats: repurposed by Chieffalo Vintage Hats
- Rugs: Round Top Flea Market
- Antique side table: Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Pouf: West Elm
- Sofa: vintage, from New Orleans
- Chaise: Montauk Sofa
- Faux fur throw on chaise: vintage
- Wood side table (one of a pair): Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Metal flower floor lamp: Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Blue chairs: Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Lucite side table: Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Beaded basket: from Mali via Round Top Flea Market
- Large-scale South American map: Round Top Flea Market
- Painting of three women: art gallery in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
- Lady Smokes Cigar In Havana photo: Greg Davis
- Large landscape painting: friend and artist Andrew Benton
- Vintage table: found in New Orleans
- Vintage record player: Las Vegas Flea Market via my friend Dickie
- Large blue glass vase: vintage via Rose Bowl Flea Market
- Bar: vintage via a store on Melrose in Los Angeles
- Rattan peacock chair: Gabe bought it for me at The Guild Shop, my favorite vintage shop in Houston.
- Leather handbag: made by my friend and client Stash Co from Houston, TX
- Horn collage on table: Alex & Lee
- Poster of woman (in kitchen): Las Vegas Flea Market, given to me by my friend Dickie
- Swinging '60s photos: Wrong Store in Marfa, TX
- Willie Nelson photo: Greg Davis
- Photo of Margaret and Gabe in West Texas: by friend and photographer Lindsay Lohden
- Girl above bar: one of my favorite pieces of art I own—it's from the Gabor estate in Palm Springs
- Vintage indigo: Mali
- Vest on ladder: made by me
- Hats on hanging rack: Westbrook Maker, SamRobertsLA
- Denim on hanging rack: Traveller Denim
- Chain-stitched jacket: Ft. Lonesome
- Antique gun: estate sale in Mandeville, Louisiana
- Pillows: Round Top Flea Market
- Rattan dresser: vintage
- Wood side table: part of a pair from Rose Bowl Flea Market (other one is in the living room)
- Leather travel bags: my favorite leather maker, Stash Co—these are our absolute favorite travel bags!
- Trunk: vintage—I've owned it since high school
- Large-scale feather on handmade paper: Roy Barloga
- Other art: mostly vintage
- Butcher's glove: Gabe's grandfather's
- Hat collection: both Gabe's and Margaret's hats, both vintage and new
- Barstool: AKA Stella Gray
- Desk: Century Furniture
- Horse lamp: vintage shop in NOLA
- Vintage bottle collection: Round Top Flea Market
- Large photo above bathroom: Gabe's grandfather
- Small photo above mirror: Gabe's father
- Crib: Babyletto
- Hamper: The Land of Nod
- Baskets: The Land of Nod
- Arrows: AKA Stella Gray
- Rocking horse: a gift
- Diaper holder: The Land of Nod
- Stuffed animals on changing table: The Land of Nod
- Yellow bench: Round Top Flea Market
- Dresser: Round Top Flea Market
- Yellow pillows: made from fabric I got from Mali, Africa
- Deer pillow: vintage
- Graphic art pieces: The Land of Nod
- Wall hanging: vintage fabric
- Hand towels: West Elm
- Two paintings: Louisiana artist Rhea Gary
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