“The Yellow House” Author Sarah M. Broom Returns to Her Roots in New Orleans

updated Jun 5, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
1 / 20
Author Sarah Broom longed for a place to call home in her native New Orleans. After an exhaustive search, she fell in love with a small house in the Marigny. "I just loved how tiny it was." The size, she says, has enabled her to make it “a kind of jewel box of the imagination.”

Name: Sarah M. Broom and her dog Billie Holiday
Location: Marigny — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 630 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, owned

It’s always been important to author Sarah M. Broom to have a place to call home in New Orleans. She lost that in 2005 when her childhood home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Her memoir “The Yellow House” tells the story of this devastating loss, which scattered her family across the country and left her grappling with the meaning of home. “The Yellow House was witness to our lives,” she writes. “When it fell, something in me burst.” (Since this tour’s initial publication, “The Yellow House” was the winner of the 2019 National Book Award in Nonfiction, and the paperback version is available July, 2020.)

Sarah, a resident of Harlem, longed for a physical place to put down roots in her native city. And she was tired of staying in hotel rooms or sharing a bed with her mom during her frequent trips to New Orleans. She had looked at more than 70 houses before a friend sent her a picture of a small yellow house for sale earlier this year. The timing was all wrong—she had just turned in her book for publication—but the house was just right.

“I never thought I wanted a yellow house, because I have all of these strange memories connected to The Yellow House, but I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. I loved just how tiny it was,” she recalls while seated in her elegantly-appointed living room between a flurry of press interviews at the start of her book tour.

“What’s great about this house, for me, is that it has everything I need and nothing more. It has like four plates, and four wine glasses and two coffee cups.” The small size, she says, has enabled her to make it “a kind of jewel box of the imagination.”

Sarah habitually scrolled through online photos of the house, designing each room from afar. Her goal was to compose moments of joy within a peaceful environment. She decided she wanted a feminine sofa with curves, a chandelier designed by Julie Neil, and a pink wall color for the bedroom to add a touch of whimsy. “By the time it was finally mine,” she says, “I had this enormous investment in it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do in every single room.”

The love she poured into creating each space, she says, is something she inherited. “All of my family and the women who compose me are here. Everything you see—just the detail and the care—that’s my grandmother Lolo and my mother Ivory Mae in every single moment in this house. These were the women who taught me what it means to make a place and how to create warmth. They taught me to collect beauty.”

The house has become a thinking place for Sarah. There is no television. She reads, catches up with her partner Dee, and settles into the house’s rhythms. And, most importantly, she waits for one of her siblings to drop by. “They all know that this is a place where they can come. And that’s highly significant for me considering the great loss of our family house in New Orleans East. It’s also a clear sign to me that I am my mother’s daughter. My mother gave us a kind of intuitive sense of what a place contains and the ways in which it’s larger than our own selves. And, I think that’s who I am also. The house is just a stand in for that and all that it means for me.”

Among the many accolades her debut book has received so far, “The Yellow House” was also just named as a 2019 National Book Awards finalist.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic

Inspiration: Beauty in all forms; Visual artists
 
Favorite Element: Kitchen nook—perfect thinking corner.
 
Biggest Challenge: Lack of space; I try not to collect too many things or buy more than I need. 
 
Proudest DIY: Painting living room floor mirror gold and highlighting with blue 
 
Biggest Indulgence: Antique floor mirror in living room
 
Best Advice: Collect beautiful things as you find them. Don’t be afraid to wait until you find the perfect piece.

Resources:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living room — Benjamin Moore Simply White
  • Bedroom — Farrow & Ball Peignoir
  • Kitchen — Farrow & Ball Arsenic
  • Bathroom — Benjamin Moore Simply White

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa — Antique, local auction
  • Arm chairs — Antique, local auction
  • Wallpaper — Anthropologie
  • Mirror — Antique, Heirloom Furnishings
  • Rug — from Tangier, Morocco
  • Curtain rods — West elm 
  • Chandelier — Julie Neill Designs, local auction
  • Crystal candelabra — Antique, Heirloom Furnishings
  • Floor Lamp — Antique, local auction
  • Ceramic vase — Kappa Horn, Nadine Blake
  • Coffee Table — Amazon

KITCHEN

  • Light — West elm
  • Rattan table and chairs — Heirloom Furnishings
  • Cushions — West elm 
  • Sconces — Sazerac Stitches

BEDROOM

  • Bed frame — Pottery Barn Teen
  • Mirror — Arhaus
  • Doors — The Bank Architectural Antiques
  • Pineapple table — Abigail Ahern
  • Side table — Antique
  • Rug — Tangier, Morocco 
  • Sconces — Sazerac stitches 
  • Juju Hat — From travels, West Africa 
  • Pottery — Antique shopping 

BATHROOM

  • Shelves — World Market 
  • Lights — Sazerac Stitches

Thanks, Sarah!

Share Your Style:

See More: 
⇒ Recent House Tours 
⇒ House Tours on Pinterest