Plaster and Brick Walls Are Just One of the Stunning Details in This New Orleans Cottage
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Name: Brent Rosen, Caroline Rosen, Ginger (dog), and Courtyard Connie (Cat)
Location: The Faubourg Marigny in New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned
Caroline and Brent’s home is a 200-year-old creole cottage, a typical style of Old New Orleans homes. “A creole cottage has four equal-sized parlors on the first floor, with a kitchen attached to the house in the back,” explains Caroline. “Some, like ours, also have a second floor for additional bedrooms.” Filled with crumbling brick walls, an eclectic array of furnishings, and lots of character, the creative couple’s home is not only one-of-a-kind, but steeped in history, too.
“The house was originally built in the early 1800s by Rosette Rochon,” begins Caroline. “Rochon has an incredibly interesting history: She was born enslaved in Mobile, but after she was freed by her white father, she moved to the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti). When revolution broke out on the island, she moved to New Orleans where she became a successful businesswoman. She owned real estate, corner grocery stores, cattle land, and made a fortune of almost $1 million before her death. She was an early investor in the Marigny neighborhood and lived in this house until her death in 1863 at the age of 96.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Both of our personal tastes veer toward the classic, but with some modern elements and twists to keep things fresh and interesting. Those tastes inform our design style. We look for classic lines, vintage pieces with character, and objects that would be interesting alone, but that really come alive when grouped and layered together with our other belongings. We aren’t into much that is trendy or flashy. We are both fortunate to work in arts and culture, so much of our art collection is made up of works by friends and collaborators. We rarely buy things because they “match” or fit some design philosophy; instead, we let our sense of style lead and most of the time the things we buy work together.
Favorite Element: The house was built in the 1810s, and everything except a few modern conveniences is original to the house. The wood floors and leaded windows are amazing, but it’s the house’s walls that are our favorite element. When the contractors restored the house, the walls were falling apart. The contractors removed all of the layers of plaster, paint, and wallpaper until the original bricks were exposed. In those areas where the layers of paint, plaster, etc. were stable, the contractors kept them and sealed them with mortar. The effect is a patchwork of paint, wallpaper and plaster that covers some, but not all, of the original bricks. You can really see the history of the house from the walls. Year 0 is the bricks, and by year 200, almost three inches of “wall” had built up.
Biggest Challenge: When we bought the house, it had no closets. Storage was not a huge deal in the 1800s, so none was built into the house. The kitchen also had very limited storage, just three cabinets under the countertops. We turned one of the bedrooms into a dressing room and closet for Caroline, which solved that problem and gave Caroline an incredible space to store her hats, Mardi Gras gear, and clothes. In the kitchen, we worked with a handyman to install a large shelf, which holds our Le Creuset pots and pans, our cookbooks, and some dry goods that don’t look bad in the open.
Proudest DIY: We aren’t all that handy when it comes to constructing or building things, but Brent paints what he calls, “bad nudes.” He does not have much control over line, nor perspective, but his “bad nudes” have a lot of personality and there are a few on display in the bedrooms and dressing room of the house.
Biggest Indulgence: We turned one of the four parlors in the house into a bar. The bar itself was a relatively expensive purchase when Caroline bought it while still in college in 2005. She’s since drug that bar from Washington, DC, to Alabama, and now back to its original home in New Orleans. It’s indulgent to have a large bar in your home, and we do a lot of indulging around it.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?
- Giant Candle: We light candles any time we have people over. Candles cast the best light and a good scented candle makes a whole room feel better.
- Le Creuset Pots: We cook at home a lot, and all we really use are these Le Creuset pots, a cast-iron skillet, and a non-stick pan for making eggs and bacon in the morning. The Le Creuset pots and pans look great, so we can store them out on the shelving and conserve our tiny covered storage space for items that don’t look good or provide a pop of color.
- Golden Kettle: This giant golden kettle? Vase? Bowl? I’m not sure what to call it, but we love using it to hold foraged greenery from the neutral ground on Esplanade Avenue. We take huge cuttings of ginger and other greenery from along the neutral ground and arrange them into huge, almost architectural displays. The green and the gold work incredibly well together. We pretty much love anything green and gold.
Best Decorating Advice We like to have a mirror in every room, and usually the larger the better. We’ve found the best, most cost-effective place to buy mirrors is from furniture liquidators. Frequently, a liquidator will purchase all of the mirrors from a hotel that is renovating or going out of business. That means the liquidator will have 100s of mirrors, many of which match, for prices that are half or less than what you’d pay at even a discount furniture store. If you’re looking for big, matching, or multiple mirrors, find a furniture liquidator near you.
- Green Couch — IKEA, yes, really
- Table — We saw this table at a furniture store outside of Montgomery, Alabama, and loved it, but it was expensive. A couple of months later, we saw that the store was going out of business. We bought the table at 60% off. Patience paid off.
- Table — From a past rental apartment
- Buffet — Family Storage Unit
- Cabinet — This is a midcentury piece we bought at a now out of business antique store in the Marigny. It was across the street from the coffee shop, Orange Couch, and they had great mid-century stuff there all the time. It’s now a potion store for witches.
- Art — R.C. Hagans
- Square Painting — Caroline bought this large square painting to explain her attitude in 2018. It’s by Shelby Little, a New Orleans based artist.
- Golden Kettle — Kettle came from Target
- Table Lamps — IKEA
- Art — Portraits over the bed are (1) velvet painting from Renaissance, an antique store in New Orleans, and portrait of Caroline from Lake Martin by her mother. The folk art triptych is by the recently deceased John Henry Toney, an Alabama folk artist who specialized in “fancy ladies.” The more modern piece is by our friend Cypher, he works in mixed media and does incredible, insightful art, his Instagram is @jesuscyph
- Futon — Futon store in Metairie, Louisiana
- Mardi Gras Headwear — Caroline Thomas is a New Orleans based designer who makes most of my headdresses for Mardi Gras. You can see ther things a @c_to_the_line on instagram.
Thanks Caroline and Brent!