A Cozy, Charming New Orleans Shotgun

published Jan 18, 2016
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Name: Lauren Wells and Breeze Braunschweig
Location: St. Roch — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months; Owned

Lauren and Breeze are the kind of friends who only need each another to have a good time. On a Saturday afternoon in late November, the women, sitting together on a church pew in Breeze’s living room, are laughing so hard over inside jokes that Lauren has her hand over her mouth because she just can’t stop laughing. “I’m sorry,” she says, wiping tears from the corners of her eyes as she composes herself for a moment, then bursts into a fit of laughter again.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)
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Best friends Breeze, left, and Lauren, right, bought this shotgun cottage duplex in New Orleans without even seeing it in person. (Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

This dynamic duo goes way back. Both women studied theater on opposite coasts: Lauren in New York and Breeze in Southern California. When Lauren moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting after college, she met Breeze through a mutual friend, and they all ended up being roommates. “I loved her immediately,” Breeze says of Lauren. “We were pursuing our dreams of becoming the greatest background actors of all time,” she jokes.

One of the many things the friends had in common from the start was a deep love for New Orleans. “Half my family is originally from New Orleans,” Lauren explains, “So I always felt ties and this gravitational pull to the city.” Lauren and Breeze visited the city together often throughout the years. Even after Lauren moved back to New York, the friends continued to meet up for vacations in the Crescent City. “Every time it would come time to leave, we felt a sense of melancholy,” Breeze says. “NOLA was pure magic for us,” Lauren says, “We had talked about buying a home, fixing it up, and decorating it together. It was our dream.”

While living on opposite coasts again, the friends began following New Orleans real estate listings online. They told themselves it was “just for fun.” But when they came across a shotgun cottage duplex in the St. Roch neighborhood, they knew immediately they had to make it their own. The double shotgun layout was just what they wanted. The house had good bones and the original character they were seeking. When they pulled up the house on Google Earth and noticed it was located across the street from a small black box theater, they knew it was meant to be. “It just gave us the chills,” Breeze recalls, “We put an offer in and then booked tickets to see the house!” Their dream quickly turned into a reality.

Determined to return the home to its original charm, the women got to work immediately with the help of their friend Alan Call, a woodworker, and contractor Lecial Carroll. They tore down built-out closets to reveal brick fireplaces in every room. Textured walls and ceilings were resurfaced, chimneys were repointed, and rooms were repainted. They installed cypress doors, pocket doors, and summer fireplace fronts they found by scouring salvage yards and Craigslist. They took a three-day “American Picker” road trip from South Carolina to New Orleans, filling up a U-Haul with furnishings from junk shops, antique stores, and Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, Georgia. In just two months, the house was renovated and fully furnished. The end result is a home that feels like a style they describe as “vintage charm influenced by jazz and the magical Crescent City.”

Lauren and Breeze credit their theater background as an influence on their style. In a way, the home feels like a beautifully staged set for a play that takes place in another era. The space evokes a sense of longing for bygone days. Lauren explains, “It’s kind of like that Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris where the character wishes he could be a part of Paris in the 1920s. There is historical nostalgia there for sure, but I don’t think it’s escapism, more of like a playful fantasy. And stage actors thrive on playful fantasy. The home conjures a sense of warmth, happiness, and romanticism for me.”

An intense renovation, two cross-country moves, and a three-day road trip in a U-Haul: these are things that could put a strain on even the strongest of relationships. But judging by their laughter and the joy they radiate when they’re together, Lauren and Breeze have come through it on top. “This has been the most fun thing in the world,” Breeze says. Lauren adds: “It was a crazy insane idea, but you know what? New Orleans is crazy, so it works.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We have different styles, but definitely share a similar vision for this home: vintage, jazz-inspired, cozy charm. We each have a side of the shotgun duplex, but worked together to renovate and decorate the home as a shared whole.

Breeze’s style is happy eclectic bohemian. She gravitates towards the loudest and brightest color in the rainbow, like a neon lime green or magenta. Her choices aren’t for the faint of heart. But it’s impossible to have a sad day in a space she’s touched, it’s infused with sunshine.

Lauren is the MacGyver of decorating. She can transform a corner of the house with the contents at the bottom of your purse. She painted alligator feet on the claw foot tubs, which gave the bathrooms a unique Louisiana twist.

Inspiration: Our biggest muse is the city of New Orleans itself. Hi, is there a more magical and beguiling place on Earth?

We scavenge salvage yards and junk stores for special items that will call to us like a siren. It could be a color or a shape of an object that could inspire an entire room. Finding old things that seem to have a history and re-purposing them gives us an adrenaline rush. We’re currently turning a bunch of bugles from WWI into a jazzy statement chandelier.

We met in Los Angeles right after college, both as stage actors. The theatre certainly influences our design choices. We tend to gravitate towards design with a dramatic flair, evoking a mood or experience.

Favorite Element: The brick chimneys! We tore down tacky makeshift closets in every bedroom and beneath the sheet rock were gorgeous brick chimneys. These hidden beauties completely transformed the look of the house, bringing back the old charm and warmth.

The reclaimed cypress barn doors that our friend Alan of Alan Call Fine Woodworking installed. We found them at The Bank Architectural, sifting through hundreds of doors for the perfect size and patina. We then sanded them down to expose years of paint colors.

Biggest Challenge: Completely renovating and furnishing a duplex (that’s right, 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, 2 baths, 2 kitchens) on a shockingly tight budget, while both traveling and living in different cities is by definition insanity. But we do love a challenge.

And another challenge: installing the 9-foot-tall cypress pocket doors in both living rooms. Originally, the doors rolled over a floor track, but the hardware for these doors no longer exists (and floor tracks are real toe-stubbers). Alan had to find a way to hang the heavy salvage doors utilizing modern overhead tracks. The track is beautifully concealed with repurposed cypress molding.

What Friends Say: We definitely get a lot of wide eyes and “ooohs,” “aaahs,” and “where did you get this?!”

Biggest Embarrassment: The house is still a work-in-progress! We have done a lot in a short period of time, but feel far from finished. The exterior doesn’t have the wow-factor we want just yet. The house came in a blue color that we weren’t too crazy about, but repainting the whole house was costly and would have to be benched for another time. We dream of adding shutters, gas lamps, era-appropriate front doors, sexy iron balustrades, and what I like to call “gingerbread house cutesiness.” We will get there soon enough.

Another big embarrassment was buying and completely re-surfacing an old claw foot tub before realizing that it was three inches too large for the bathroom! We remedied the oversight by cutting a niche into the wall and sliding the tub into the space. We set beautiful Spanish fleur de lis tiles into the niche, resulting in a super handy and improvised cubby shelf that now holds shampoo and soaps. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!

Proudest DIY: There are too many to list. The shelving for one! We repurposed the old pocket door wheels into shelving brackets. Also, the “Satchmo tribute shelf” in the bathroom—a divine, delirious 4am inspiration.

My least favorite spot in the house was the back hallway by a laundry room. I took some old sheet music, made a corn starch paste, and created my own wallpaper. Now the hallway feels romantic and mysterious.

Biggest Indulgence: The turquoise SMEG refrigerator and the big paintings in the living rooms. After we went for it and splurged on art, we got a drink down the street to calm the nerves, steady the hand, and toast our fabulous decision.

Best Advice: 1) Have fun and play! Play around with something until it feels right. 2) If it’s too expensive, wait. You will find it somewhere else, cheaper. Unless it makes your heart sing, than do it (and the SMEG fridge certainly makes the heart go pitter-patter).

Dream Sources: 1stDibs, Dwell Studio, Wayfair. Oh, and France! We took a road trip from Paris through the south of France, browsing antique fairs and frothing at the mouth. We dream of returning with a truck and sourcing antiques for our future projects.



  • Kitchen walls: Benjamin Moore Pink Damask OC-72
  • Kitchen bead board: Benjamin Moore Antique Jade 465
  • Bathroom: Benjamin Moore Metro Gray 1459
  • All other walls and ceilings: Benjamin Moore White Dove PM-19
  • Backyard shed (above): Benjamin Moore Sunshine 2021-30
  • Backyard shed trim (above): Benjamin Moore Hot Lips 2077-33


  • Couch: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Church pew: Craigslist
  • Pew cushions: custom-made by Abby Willets at Cut Twice Fabrication and Design (with two days’ notice!)
  • Burlap throw pillows: Pineconeshoppe on Etsy
  • Large gold mirror: estate sale in the neighborhood
  • Floor lamp: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Red hat: neighbor’s trash can—we’re not opposed to finding things!
  • What Do You Know About Love? painting: Wayne Manns
  • Shadow box art: DIY made using pieces found inside the walls during pocket door installation (knob and tube, old square nails, a broken album…)


  • Bed frame: Craigslist
  • Antique mirror above bed: Conrad’s Shop on St. Claude Ave
  • Industrial-style retail display closet: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Safe nightstand: Conrad’s Shop on St. Claude Ave
  • Mantel: The Bank Architectural Salvage on Felicity
  • Summer front fireplace cover: The Bank Architectural Salvage on Felicity
  • Curtain: Anthropologie
  • Rug: HomeGoods
  • Antique mirror: Green Project on Marais St
  • Antique sewing machine: The Bank Architectural
  • Photographs: Itinerant Studio
  • Watercolor of trumpet player: Lauren Andrews Artist
  • Other artwork: Wayne Manns
  • Artwork frames on either side of mantle: Bergeron Woodworks


  • Bed frame: Craigslist
  • Mantel: The Bank Architectural
  • Reclaimed summer front fireplace cover: The Bank Architectural
  • Bedside table: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • WWI-era bugles: Craigslist
  • Curtain: Anthropologie
  • Rose bedspread: 1960s vintage via Riverfront Antique Mall in Augusta, GA
  • Double wash basin: Stray Cats Home Decor in Birmingham, AL
  • Vintage red dress: Lauren’s closet
  • Black and white photographs: Conrad’s Shop on St. Claude
  • Long wood frame above bed: Green Project on Marais St
  • Wyatt Earp drawing: Conrad’s Shop on St Claude
  • Wood frame: HomeGoods


  • Hutch: 19th century New Orleans via Craigslist
  • Porcelain tile: Home Depot in Gretna
  • Commercial stainless sink (used): Grover Brothers Restaurant Equipment in Hattiesburg
  • Stainless counter: Grover Brothers Restaurant Equipment in New Orleans
  • Countertop: butcher block from IKEA, installed by Alan Call Fine Woodworking
  • Fleur de lis Spanish tile: Craigslist
  • 1950s gas range: O’Keefe and Merritt via Craigslist
  • Dining table: Simply Vintage in Hattiesburg, MS
  • Green chair: Simply Vintage in Hattiesburg, MS
  • Black dining chair: Conrad’s Shop on St. Claude
  • Brown dining chair: Stray Cats Home Decor in Birmingham, AL
  • SMEG refrigerator: West Elm NOLA
  • Reclaimed barn door: The Bank Architectural, installed by Alan Call Fine Woodworking
  • 1850 Daily Delta newspaper: eBay seller qrst
  • Handsome man drawing: yard sale
  • Woman in rocking chair photograph: The Bank Architectural


  • Reclaimed cypress barn door: The Bank Architectural
  • Antique claw foot tub: Craigslist
  • Vanity: in house when we purchased it, spray painted black
  • Lion knob: Home Depot
  • Sink: in house when we purchased it
  • Curtain: Anthropologie
  • Poem: local NOLA street poet on Frenchman
  • Vintage trumpet: eBay
  • Reclaimed wood for shelving: The Bank Architectural
  • Shower enclosure: Ken Brown & Sons Plumbing Supply NOLA
  • Vintage ladder: Stray Cats Home Decor in Birmingham, AL
  • Tub stand: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Naked lady in forest photo: Vancouver, BC antique shop
  • Naked 1940s lady photo: Uncommon Objects in Austin, TX


  • Couch: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Flower pillow: Kate Spade for Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Polka dot pillow: ElemenOpillows on Etsy
  • Chevy car door: Stray Cats Home Decor in Birmingham, AL
  • Rug: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Theatre chair seats: Craigslist
  • Mod round chair: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Victrola record player: parents’ basement—Lauren painted it with chalkboard paint and added song lyrics.
  • Old Corona typewriter: a gift from Lauren’s mom
  • New Orleans typography print : Joebmapart on Etsy
  • St. Roch house print: Fox & Comet on Etsy
  • Grandma Puddin’ Looking Out the Window: Wayne Manns


  • Quilt: Urban Outfitters
  • Sheets: Urban Outfitters
  • Clothing rack: Final Cut Home Decor in Augusta, GA
  • Red outdoor chair: thrift store in Huntsville, AL
  • Old fan: junk shop
  • Cross-stitched Tennessee Williams quote: DIY
  • Frame: eBay
  • Moon chart pull-down wall hanging: GrittyCityGoods on Etsy
  • Two prints: Shadrieka on Etsy


  • Bedsheets: IKEA
  • Twin iron beds: Craigslist
  • Botanical prints: Old Age Botanicals on Etsy
  • Rooster lamps: Craigslist
  • Pinball machine: eBay
  • Curtain: Anthropologie
  • Armoire: Craigslist
  • Rug: HomeGoods


  • Hutch: 19th century New Orleans via Craigslist
  • Table: antique mall in South Carolina
  • Stools: eBay
  • New Orleans poster: parents’ basement
  • Embroidered handkerchiefs: estate sale
  • Coldspot fridge: Craigslist
  • Glassware: IKEA


  • Basket: Target
  • Towels: IKEA
  • Make-up mirror: HomeGoods
  • Gator bath rug: AnneHallDesigns on Etsy
  • Synchronized swimmer and alligator print: Gator Girl Art on Etsy


  • Lecial Carroll, Renovations Made Easy, L.L.C.
  • Alan Call Fine Woodworking

A special shout-out to Alan Call, an old friend of Breeze’s, who provided around-the-clock supervision on everything and answered all emergency calls. “We do all things through Alan who strengthens us!”

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Thanks, Lauren & Breeze!