Megan and Sam’s Mix of Antiques and Art With a New Orleans Speakeasy Past
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Name: Megan Workman & Sam Peake, Delia the dog, and Eliot the cat
Location: Central City; New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,439 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned
Real estate agent Megan Workman was searching for a house for a client two years ago, when something unexpected happened. When she entered the side door of a small Central City Victorian and stepped into a bright, beautiful hallway, she thought, “I must make this hallway mine.” She recalls the moment with a smile, musing, “It’s funny…that one little element…”
Megan and Sam’s home, located on the border between the grand mansions of the Garden District and the more modest houses of Central City, is a side-hall variation on the traditional shotgun prevalent throughout New Orleans. The 1,400-square-foot home is made up of several distinct rooms that fit together like a maze. It’s quite the opposite of the open concept floor plan that dominates design these days, and the couple prefers it that way. “The layout makes us use every room,” says Sam.
Although Sam has plenty of experience with building–he had summer jobs working construction with his dad and renovated houses with his brother George, whose home was also featured on Apartment Therapy–he was happy to buy a house only in need of bathroom renovations and smaller projects, like painting walls and stripping door knobs and plates.
The decor is an eclectic mix of sentimental family antiques, objects collected through world travel, and modern furnishings and art. While Sam is naturally drawn to wood furniture, natural history artifacts, ceramics, and plant life, Megan gravitates towards bright color, pop art, and sleek furniture. Balancing their different tastes has been a welcome challenge for the pair. Their blended style has evolved since they met in college a decade ago.
The house is filled with charming Southern details that Megan and Sam love: floor-to-ceiling windows, wide baseboards, gingerbread porch brackets, and a brick courtyard with a stucco wall that’s imbued with the kind of character that only comes with age. The couple also takes delight in their home’s curious past—it is rumored to have been a speakeasy during Prohibition. The house still holds clues: old, heavy duty, exterior locks inside two closets and what appears to be a hooch door connecting the closets in the master and guest bedrooms. Sam discovered more evidence during a bathroom renovation: finished shelving hidden between the framing inside the wall.
Megan and Sam especially enjoy their home’s convenient location. Situated one block off of St. Charles Avenue, their house is just steps away from the streetcar line and the route where Mardi Gras parades pass. “We’re the Mardi Gras hotspot,” Megan says with a laugh. They’re located just a short walk from lively Magazine Street—filled with an abundance of restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops—and their favorite Central City neighborhood bar, Verret’s Lounge. They love taking in the Garden District’s beautiful architecture and scenery on walks with their dog, Delia.
When it came to finding the right home for herself, it’s clear that Megan heeded her own advice. “I tell my clients, you just get this feeling when you walk into a house. You know you will have enduring comfort, and you will get long-lasting enjoyment out if it. It’s two years later, and I still love walking down this hallway.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I like to combine antiques with bright, modern art and colors for an eclectic contrast. I love the visual effect created when old is paired with new and neutrals or natural materials are paired with something bright and jubilant or sleek and white. Sam and I inherited many beautiful large pieces of antique furniture from our families and it’s always been a fun challenge for me to try to balance them with more modern furnishings and art so that it doesn’t feel like we live in a museum of old wood.
Inspiration: Lately I’ve really been really digging the home tours coming out of Australia from around the web. Despite the diversity and range of styles, many of them retain a very lighthearted and playful quality about them even in the most expensive and sophisticated homes—like its okay to not take the decor of one’s home too seriously, an attitude I find really admirable. Also, I feel a little funny admitting this, but I regularly page through the annual IKEA catalogs for inspiration, not necessarily for their products but for the way they stage rooms and pair interesting colors together. They have a seriously talented staff of stagers on hand. Finally, it was ingrained in me long ago by my grandmother that “anything can go together,” while later I learned from my mother the importance of also taking an editorial eye to things once in a while, too.
Sam’s aesthetic has always been and likely forever will be influenced by his rural upbringing in the Texas Hill Country and his travels. He’s attracted to natural wood furniture and decor, ceramics, exotic fabrics, and incorporating as much plant life as possible. He likes putting the time and energy into bringing old pieces of furniture back to life. He also loves collecting things, most notably arrowheads, fossils, and petrified bones. I call him a magpie because he can’t resist finding and picking things off the ground… and then holding onto them forever.
Favorite Element: My favorite elements are the side hall that runs from the dining room to the living room, the floor-to-ceiling window in the living room, and the stucco walls and brick foundation in the courtyard.
Sam’s favorite element is the evidence in the house that confirms the rumor it was once used as a speakeasy. There are still old, heavy duty, exterior locks inside two of the closets, a hooch door connecting the master and guest bedroom closets, and during the bathroom renovation, we discovered finished shelving inside the wall between the framing.
Biggest Challenge: Lack of closets and outdoor storage space for things like tools, construction materials, paint, etc., means we have had to get creative with storing and organizing items out in the open that would normally be hidden away (see Sam’s office).
What Friends Say: It looks like “us.”
Biggest Embarrassment: The back bathroom has yet to be renovated (originally, both bathrooms looked like it when we bought the house). I do my best to work with the gaudy brass sconces and beige and tan tile but am looking forward to the day when time and money permit us to make it more our taste.
Proudest DIY: The biggest DIY was the front bathroom—Sam redid a lot of it himself, including patching and refinishing the partially termite-eaten hardwood floors we found under two layers of tile. My favorite DIY is the little square he hammered out of the brick in the courtyard so we could plant a Chinese Pagoda tree to add more shade.
Biggest Indulgence: Hiring a pro to refinish the hardwood floors throughout the house the week before we moved into the house rather than attempting to tackle it ourselves. The time and pain it probably spared us (particularly Sam) is priceless. Plus, they came out beautifully.
Best Advice: When acquiring things for your home, don’t be afraid to buy pieces of art/furniture/textiles/etc. that feel special or really speak to you, even if it isn’t in the vein of what you already own or corresponds immediately to a place to put it in your home. I have found I have never regretted throwing caution to the wind when it comes to purchases like this, and they eventually always find a useful place or purpose, ultimately adding to the uniqueness of the space as a whole.
Dream Sources: Being one of the first through the door of a really good New Orleans estate sale (which requires waking up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday and will therefore never come to fruition).
PAINT & COLORS
- Body and trim: Benjamin Moore 2141-70 Vanilla Milkshake
- Shutters: BM 2146-30 Split Pea
- Porch and stairs: BM 2172-10 Copper Clay
- Doors: BM 2133-10 Onyx
- Hall: Benjamin Moore AF-15 Steam
- Living room: Benjamin Moore AF-15 Steam
- Dining room: I wish I knew! This was the color it was painted when we bought it and I love it but it needs repainting.
- Kitchen walls- Behr MQ6-1 Ocean Abyss
- Kitchen cabinets- BM 2143-70 Simply White
- Office: Benjamin Moore AF-15 Steam
- Bedrooms: Benjamin Moore AF-15 Steam
- African table: Antiques on Jackson, New Orleans
- Buffet: Sam’s family heirloom, DIY renovation (fully sanded, replaced rotted panels, installed glass panes, finished with natural Watco Danish Oil, replaced handles)
- Rocking chair: Megan’s family heirloom, DIY renovation (fixed broken arm and rocking leg, cleaned the fabric)
- Mirror: Sam’s family heirloom—it attaches to the dresser in the master bedroom.
- Antique Chinese screens: Sam’s family heirloom from his great-grandfather
- Coral and grey runner rug: CB2
- Mail holder: Ikea
- Pottery: Sam’s brother Henry Peake/Blumenthal Workshops
- Pink and green lung form painting: Sidney Kelly
- Carved animal stool: acquired in Guatemala
- Omersa leather pig footstool: Sam’s family heirloom
- Couch: Ikea by way of Craigslist
- Sofa chair: Craigslist
- Herman Miller Eames chairs: garage sale
- Coffee table: Discoveries, New Orleans
- Media shelf:Ikea
- Secretary: Sam’s family heirloom
- Glass-front cabinet: Ikea
- Goat leg side table: Sam’s brother Henry Peake/Blumenthal Workshops
- Small table next to fireplace: Sam’s brother Henry Peake/Blumenthal Workshops
- Cowhide rug: Ikea
- Pink rug: Craigslist
- Axis deer antlers: found by Sam in South Grape Creek near Luckenbach, TX
- Candy Shop photograph: Sam Adams:
- Pink shotgun house photo printed on metal: Brandon Xuereb
- Art above the mantel: a hand-me-down from my boss—she doesn’t know much about it either but the artist’s signature says “Ryan Rice.”
- Wood skeleton: from a trip to Mexico
- Clock on mantel: a gift my parents bought at an art fair in my hometown, Birmingham, MI
- Dining table: Megan’s family heirloom
- Chairs: restaurant furniture supply company
- Corner cabinet: Megan’s family heirloom
- Grandfather clock: estate sale
- Side table: Sam’s family heirloom
- Mirror: Craigslist
- Pendant light over table: Ikea
- Glass table lamp: Ikea
- Rug: Discoveries, New Orleans
- Tablecloth: Loomed, New Orleans
- Cacti (yes, they are cacti!) painting: Sidney Kelly
- Naked woman painting: estate sale find
- Flower painting: painted by my Megan’s grandfather
- Thai musician painting: bought by Megan’s grandmother in Thailand
- Black and white runner rug: West Elm
- Trash cans: simplehuman
- Vases: Ikea
- Hanging 3-tiered wire basket: Sur La Table
- Wooden monkeys: Bali
- Mirror: Bon Castor, New Orleans
- Pottery on top shelf (except for plate): Finn Alban
- Desk: Ikea
- Shelves: Ikea
- Drafting lamp: garage sale
- Floor lamp: Sam’s family heirloom
- Cabinets: Ikea
- Swivel chair: Ikea
- Cow skull: Fredericksburg, TX
- Mardi Gras masks: made by Sam
- Canopy bed: Overstock.com
- Dresser: Sam’s family heirloom, DIY renovation (fully sanded, replaced and stained broken knobs, finished with natural Watco Danish Oil)
- Love seat: Craigslist, recovered with Ikea Ektorp slipcover
- Side table: IKEA
- Masks: Singapore/Southeast Asia
- Silk scroll behind bed: China
- Art: Sidney Kelly, Blake Boyd
- Leg lamp: This is a former riding boot that belonged to Sam’s grandmother that she had made into a lamp.
- Little wood chest: bought by Sam in Guatemala
- Tapestry: Laos
- Mask: Bali, Indonesia
- Rug: Antiques on Jackson, New Orleans
- Table, chairs, umbrella, and storage benches: Ikea
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