An Innkeeper’s Impossibly Dreamy Attic Apartment in New Orleans

updated Apr 30, 2019

An Innkeeper’s Impossibly Dreamy Attic Apartment in New Orleans

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Melinda McSpadden
Location: Garden District — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 11 months; the apartment is one of the perks of being a live-in innkeeper

The setting for Melinda McSpadden’s life is dripping with Southern charm — lush greenery and a canopy of century-old oaks surround a Queen Anne-style mansion built in 1890 in the heart of New Orleans’ picturesque Garden District. On a summer morning, a ceiling fan turns lazily above rattan chairs on a wrap-around porch. The scene is just begging for someone to sit and sip a glass of ice-cold lemonade.

Twenty years of working just about every job imaginable in the hospitality industry led Melinda to this fine place called Sully Mansion, where she has worked as a live-in innkeeper for the past eleven months. “It’s like a dream come true. I get to utilize all of my skills,” she says. Although the job is extremely demanding — by 2pm, she’s already put in a solid 8 hours of work — Melinda says it’s afforded her freedom in ways she never had before. She has evenings to herself for the first time in her adult life, she gets to spend the day with her dog Henri, and she gets to live in a dreamy third-floor apartment. “To have this space became a determining factor in my choice to take this position,” she says of the large, light-filled one-bedroom. The airy space has vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, a private porch overlooking Prytania Street, and incredible views of majestic Live Oaks.

After she winds down each workday by mixing Southern cocktails––think Sazarec, Pimm’s Cup, Mint Julep–– for the guests, she is grateful to return to an inspiring place she can call her own. “I really need a refuge in which to retreat. I’m still tied to the phone,” she adds, “but I’ve learned to relax and have created some boundaries.” She says with a laugh, “But I still turn into a pumpkin at 10:00.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Bohemian Eclectic

Inspiration: My travels, childhood memories, window shopping, Elle Decor, and Architectural Digest. I have “inspiration” clippings from old magazines that I’ve been collecting for years.

Favorite Element: The exposed beams and the view of the majestic oak trees from above.

Biggest Challenge: Climbing the stairs to the attic 50 times a day!

What Friends Say: “Such a hidden gem!”

Biggest Embarrassment: I haven’t had a chance to paint the stairwell yet — it’s a pretty terrible institutional mint green with brown stairs. I’d love to paint it a light, warm charcoal color with a high gloss black lacquer on the stairs and railing.

Proudest DIY: You know when you find something in a shop and think to yourself, “I could make that”? My latest little project was the dream-catcher over my bed. I recently saw one in a little boutique that I just loved — but they wanted $650 for it! I thought, “NO WAY… I think I can make that!” and went home and made my own.

Biggest Indulgence: Up until about ten months ago, I had never bought a piece of furniture. Everything I owned was either a hand-me-down or a garage sale find. When I moved into this apartment, I splurged on a brand new dining room table and chairs from CB2.

Best Advice: Surround yourself with things that you love…down to the very last spoon and fork. If an item doesn’t have sentimental value or doesn’t make you swoon, get rid of it!

Dream Sources: Parisian flea markets, Moroccan bazaars, Italian estate sales.


Natural cotton linen drapes – IKEA

Ganesha statue/lamp – Gift from the original owners of Meauxbar Bistro on Rampart Street in New Orleans

Turkish runner – heirloom

White leather bench – Overstock

Throw pillows on bench – CB2

Copper side table – Target

Owl bookcase – heirloom

Grey leather chairs, lucite coffee table, and marble and chrome lamp – My father used to be a dentist and this was the furniture from his dental office waiting room. I’m pretty sure it’s all Italian from the 60s.

Blue Deer Heads – Etsy, then spray-painted

Throw Pillows – Kilim pillows from Black Fig Designs on Etsy

Mid Century Modern chrome black leather chairs – a friend of mine was putting them out to the curb!

Painting (portrait) – David Harouni and I painted this together on Christmas Day back in 2003. Lots of champagne!

Photography prints on canvas– Jim Merrill Photography

Dining room table and chairs – CB2

White figurative sketch painting– this painting was found in the rubble of a friend’s house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina

Two other paintings – my own original artwork

Hand carved pine wine rack – A wedding gift to my parents
China and crystal– my Grandmother’s
Salvador Dali etching from 1968 , signed in the plate
Hanging window ballerina – It was a tip given to me when I was a bartender


Gold Pillows – CB2

Mattress – Sleep Innovations 14″ memory foam with gel topper

Goose Feather Down Duvet and Large Pillows – Canadian Down and Feather Co.

1940s Lacquer and Brass Mirror – New York estate sale

Duvet Cover and Cotton Sheets – Yves Delorme

Canopy – drapery lining thrown over rafters

Marble Side Table – Target

Brass Side Table – CB2

Thanks, Melinda!

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