A Light-Filled, Shared New Orleans Apartment Features Rental-Friendly Decor Ideas
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Photographer Laura Steffan’s name may sound familiar: she’s a contributor here at Apartment Therapy! Based in New Orleans (she sells STUNNING prints of the city on her website), she shares a large rental apartment in New Orleans with her roommate Ashley O’Neill, a creative director and brand strategist, podcaster, and the musician Hazy Jane (whose album premieres on Oct. 31). Laura describes their home below:
We live in Uptown, New Orleans, home to gorgeous oak-lined streets, the St. Charles streetcar, Audubon Park, and iconic 100+ year old establishments. We love walking to our favorite neighborhood spots with a to-go drink in hand—we are just a couple blocks from Magazine Street. Plus, we are in the Mardi Gras grid, and can watch parades from our balcony if we wanted to (but you’ll catch us down at the parades!). We also love taking bike rides to the Garden District, Irish Channel, and other surrounding neighborhoods. Laura found the apartment on Craigslist, and we almost didn’t even go to look at it because the pictures weren’t great. But once we toured it, we loved the open layout, wood floors, natural light, fireplace, and mint green bathroom tiles, and we saw the potential it possessed.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Ashley O’Neill – I’m definitely more experimental, eclectic, and a maximalist; think Kelly Wearstler, Sheila Youngblood, or Christopher John Rodgers. It’s all about the drama. Laura is more minimalist and refined, she reels me in. We have a good balance, and we’re both into so many different types of interior design styles—her as an interior and architecture photographer and myself as a stylist and creative director—so deciding on what direction to take everything in was the first hurdle. The house itself, with the bright light, hardwood floors, gorgeous mantel, and colorful bathroom, really led the way.
Inspiration: AO – Interesting places and interesting people. I’m forever inspired by other’s stories of how, where, and why they live.
Favorite Element: AO – The light and being on the second floor. I don’t think either of us want to live on a first floor ever again. From the balcony, and a little window in our shower, you are surrounded by treetops, rooftops, and the view of a church steeple on Napoleon. It’s so picturesque—sunsets are real tearjerkers in this apartment.
LS – The screened-in balcony filled with lots of plants. It’s perfect for sipping coffee in the morning and having drinks while catching the sunset. Also, the warm afternoon light that fills the whole space.
Biggest Challenge: AO – As two twenty-somethings who are both working in creative careers, our biggest challenge was definitely budget. It’s a pretty big space, thankfully, so filling it up took a while! We both moved in with barely any furniture, not a dining table or a couch or anything. We thrifted, found things on the side of the road, bought things on sale, and saved up to splurge on the best items (or just racked up a lil credit card debt—sorry, mom!). Took us two years to pull everything together in a cohesive way.
Proudest DIY: AO – The countertops in the kitchen. The original countertops were this awful blue linoleum, so we found this terrazzo sticky counter paper on Amazon to cover it up. It was the most time consuming, hilarious experience to cover everything—especially the bar nook—but overall it was pretty easy to accomplish and elevates the space. I get so happy looking at it in the morning light.
LS – What Ashley said, plus our kitchen walls are divided in two sections, and we painted the lower half a dark forest green to pair with the terrazzo countertops (all Ashley’s idea!).
Biggest Indulgence: AO – The CHAIRS! We went to Merchant House when they first opened and walked out 30 minutes later with all of the standout chairs in our apartment. The pink dining chairs were in perfect condition from the early 1930s while the living room has two black wood and sheepskin beauties. I love when something is fanciful, functional, and built to last forever.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We use a vintage display case found on the side of the road by some friends as our TV console and pseudo-bookshelf. It’s been a terrarium, used for kitchen storage and dinner parties as a buffet table, and has moved around the house countless times (it’s surprisingly lightweight)!
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? AO – I bought the mirror above our fireplace in college. I remember seeing that mirror and knowing within my soul that I would be an old lady, drinking a cocktail in my sitting room, with that mirror above me. It’s a showstopper and brings me joy whenever I look at it.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: AO – If you don’t have a lot of closet space, use your accessories as artful objects around your home and as paperweights.
LS – I have storage containers and organizers tucked away underneath my bed and in the tiny closet spaces we do have. Also, woven baskets as storage can be part of the decor.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? AO – Don’t try to buy everything and set it up all at once. Your home will change, just as you change. It’s better to fill it with meaningful pieces that you’ve collected over time, found near and far, and see how they work together. That’s where the magic happens, and how things feel uniquely true to you.
PAINT & COLORS
- Kitchen — Sherwin-Williams “Hunter Green”
- Ashley’s Room — Sherwin-Williams “Blushing”
- Chair — Merchant House
- Side Table — Merchant House
- Gators We Have Met from Defend New Orleans
- Palm Mandala by Cora Nimtz
- Magnolia print by Anna Koeferl (@annakoef); https://www.annakoeferl.com/
- Magnolia and Highland Banana Flower illustrations by Molly Reeder (@mollyreeder) – https://www.mollyreeder.com/
- Metal Dome Table Lamp — Target
- Nightstand — Nadeau
- Rattan Chair — Nadeau
- Plant – Fait Nola (@fait.nola)
- Wall Mount Bookshelf — Home Depot
- Wicker Headboard — thrifted from Merchant House
- Green Recycled Glass Candlestick — Zara Home
- Wooden Photo Frame — Zara Home
- Thin Metal Photo Frame — Zara Home
- Death Magick Abundance by Akasha Rabut
- The Lives of Others: Sublime Interiors of Extraordinary People by Simon Watson
- Literally Me by Julie Houts
- Creative Living: Bohemian Interiors Around the World by Robyn Lea
- The New York Times 36 Hours: World and 36 Hours: Europe
Thanks (Insert Name Here)!