Apartment living is the key to happiness for Matilde Alberny and Gustavo Duque. These New Orleans artists never imagined they would end up renting their beloved home in the Lower Garden District to move into their 710 square foot investment property. But the awakening of short-term tenants, who were in the final push to finish building their dream home, opened their eyes to the joys of living in a small space.
After three months of renting Matilde & Gustavo’s Warehouse District apartment, the retired couple had fallen in love with the freedom and simplicity of apartment life. They decided to sell their newly constructed dream home and buy an apartment instead. Inspired by their tenants unexpected about-face, Matilde and Gustavo decided to give it a try themselves.
They walked away from all of the excess in their life and started anew with only the things they really love: their favorite pieces of furniture and their art collection. The result is a simple space that feels right at home in the city’s Arts District. The thriving neighborhood of converted warehouses, situated just a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi River and French Quarter, is filled with restaurants, shops and art galleries on nearly every block.
The paintings and sculptures that fill Matilde and Gustavo’s apartment tell the story of this devoted couple’s life together. Gustavo’s painting, “Mi Colombia,” the focal point of the living room, is where it all began. Matilde fell in love with the graffiti-style painting when she saw it on exhibit and was determined to meet the artist. A mutual friend arranged a meeting and Gustavo paid her a visit in hopes of selling her the painting. What started as a potential business relationship turned into a romance. Seventeen years later, they still wear the loving glow of newlyweds. The artwork they’ve made for each other throughout the years fills their home with memories of their journey.
While their previous home was a quiet urban oasis, their new place is surrounded by the bustling energy of the city. It’s not unusual now for the couple to get a surprise call from friends and, minutes later, be dining together over a glass of wine just steps away from their front door. “Our life was completely different before we moved here,” says Gustavo.
Living in an apartment allows them the freedom to pick up and go when they want to travel. The low-maintenance space also gives them more time for entertaining friends with Matilde’s wonderful cooking. “Life is so easy!” Gustavo exclaims with a giant smile and a twinkle in his eye. “We find more time for us. We enjoy more of life.”
Downsizing seems to have been all gain and no loss for Matilde and Gustavo. Everything they need fits comfortably in 710 square feet. Sitting on the couch beside Gustavo, Matilde looks up at “Mi Colombia,” and says “When we put this painting here, we said, ‘Now we are home.’”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Casual elegance
Inspiration: Pieces collected over the years
Favorite Element: Our art collection
Biggest Challenge: To create a space to entertain groups of twenty or more
What Friends Say: They enjoy being entertained in our home, which in spite of the small scale, houses our large art collection
Biggest Embarrassment: What we still have to do, especially our closets.
Proudest DIY: We don’t know how to do anything with construction. We call a professional.
Biggest Indulgence: Our furnishings
Best Advice: Get rid of excess and keep only the things you really love.
Dream Sources: Casabianca, the home of our designer Melissa Myers
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore: Grey Mist
- Paintings/collages from the last series by Matilde Alberny
- Multi-figural Peruvian sculpture.
- Round painting is a recent work by Gustavo Duque
- Our goal was to develop a space where we could comfortably host a large group. Our designer and friend, Melissa Myers, created a room that is multi-functional and always surprises us with it’s simplicity.
- Our two favorite furniture pieces, a buffet and bar from the 1920’s, are used to store all our glasses and dishes for entertaining.
- Over the linen sofa, from local furniture maker Halpern’s Furniture, is Gustavo Duque’s “Mi Colombia," which is how it all began. Matilde was interested in buying the painting when she met the artist and they have been together ever since.
- Above the buffet, Duque’s “ No te lleves mi alma” painted for Matilde in 2009 and next to the window “Lluvia de besos” painted by Matilde for Gustavo in 1997.
- Also proudly displayed are a glass sculpture by Gerry White, a paper lamp by Viorel Hodre, a painted vase by Gustavo Duque, pottery by Matilde Alberny (nude on leaf).
- Chandelier by Hernan Caro, Persian Bakhtiari wool rug from MJ Moezzi in New Orleans, dining chairs by Luis Colmenares, table vase by Hernan Caro supports the slate table top, where many dinners have been enjoyed.
- Our dream kitchen is in the planning stages. This one has been made livable with art work by both Alberny and Duque and a chandelier by Hernan Caro.
- A black modern sleigh bed sets off our 1930’s pieces where our cat Miaumiau loves to hide. Paintings by both, Alberny and Duque, and metal sculpture by Hernan Caro. Seen from the bed, the peaceful forest scene painted by Gustavo Duque is the focal point of the hall.
- A work in progress softened by linen and paintings, again by Alberny and Duque; towel bars crafted by Heran Caro
Thanks, Matilde & Gustavo!
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