Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pouring A Drink From An Elegant Place

In New Orleans nearly every home has a space dedicated to a bar. It might be a tray of bottles on the kitchen counter, or a built-in elaborate wet bar, or a bar cart,  or a tray on a chest, or tucked into an armoire converted into a bar.

Where is the bar n your house? Convert an old TV cabinet into a retro hipster bar

Happy New Year time

Arranging a bar tray has become an art form

A bar with non alcoholic  drinks gets equal opportunity styling on my patio as seen in House of Fifty

The best thing is to use for a bar an armoire. Throw some shelves and mirror in it, add a tray and maybe some store bought wine racks, and there you have it. Everyone of a certain age has a fugly TV armoire, and it is so easy to transform it into updated storage.

Go to Steven and Chris for the 411 on the basic easy DIY


mirrors, cut to size
metallic spray paint in various colours
spray bottle filled with water
spray adhesive
glassware and other bar accessories


  1. Measure dimensions of back wall of each shelf. Have glass-store clerk cut pieces of mirror to fit.
  2. Clean and dry mirrors well.
  3. Spray mirror with water. Be sure spray bottle is set to a very fine mist; you want to cover the entire surface of the mirror in small droplets of water.
  4. Immediately spray mirror with a light mist of spray paint in various metallic shades (e.g. silver, copper, etc.).
  5. After 30 seconds, dab mirror with a SpongeTowel. Keep your touch light; you're trying to get rid of the water, not the spray paint. Repeat with mirrors for other shelves.
  6. Affix antiqued mirrors to backs of shelves using spray adhesive.
  7. Dress shelves with glassware, bar accessories, tchotchkes, etc., and invite some friends over for a drink!  from Steven and Chris
Bryan Batt, actor, author, decorator, shop owner, and New Orleans personalityy loves a good armoire

He converted his 18th century antique into a killer bar, complete with a s working sink

This armoire got a coat of paint, some wine rack storage, and bistro style blackboard paint on the inside of a door

I have this fugly computer office armoire that I am dying to paint

Maybe I could turn it into a place to store fabric samples - I have another TV armoire that was turned into linen storage - Alberto added shelves - Armoires are deep so they make a perfect space for storing sheets and blankets

Shoe storage in an armoire makeover would be a good idea

See how great an armoire is for blanket storage

Joni Webb from Cote de Texas styled her armoire with all white books and objects - so pretty

This antique beauty belongs to one of my clients who added shelves and uses it for china and table linens

The sky is the limit with your paint job

This armoire got a coat of mod green paint

Black makes this converted armoire look so chic

Don't need bar space? This nifty home sewing station was made from an armoire

How clever is this! The table folds into the armoire

This is a wrap station in a kitchen cabinet, but you could adapt this idea in an armoire
You can used TV armoires so cheap on Craigslist, sometime even for free. We have two stores that sell used hotel furniture, and they always have tons of TV armoires at cheap prices.

Hotel Liquidators
221 Harbor Circle  New Orleans, LA 70126
(504) 302-3324

Canal Furniture Liquidators
3534 Toulouse St
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 442-5383

Do you have an armoire waiting for makeover?  Or have you already done it?

This armoire was turned into a pantry - genius

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Are Your Plans?

Who cares about losing weight or getting more exercise or giving up booze or smoking? Home decorators have other plans.

What projects and improvements and purchases do you want to make in the new year? What have you been putting off that you finally want to tackle this year? Are you moving to a new house? Are you renovating your home?

I have resolved to do a few things this year.

Our grass id a FAIL

 I want to clan up my outdoor spaces. The sod we planted two years ago has turned to weeds, and the banana trees we also added are a mess.

We need at least 24 huge ass square pavers

I'm thinking of large square pavers, or maybe extending the river rock into this area. I'd also like to reupholster the patio furniture cushions and paint a chevron pattern on the floor.

And while I'm out there I would love to turn our garage and shed into a dance studio with a bathroom, or turn it into a short term rental for the movie folks working in New Orleans.

I would add French doors to the garage

Inside the house, I need to paint the chimney bump-out in the kitchen. Considering blackboard paint, but am leery of cooking splatters not able to be cleaned off the wall. The kitchen curtains need to be replaced.

Can you clean grease off of blackboard paint?

General paint touch up of all the walls and painted furniture in the house needs to be done.

It's touch-up time

The shame that is our laundry room needs to get finished, which includes putting up the rest of the crown moulding, and putting in a new floor. The master bath adjoins the laundry room and I would love to rip out the bathroom tile floor, and do matching marble subway tiles on both floors, in a herringbone pattern. We have two bathrooms, and both of them need the tubs to be resurfaced by a professional.

I need to clean out my "magic closet" of decorating junk, an armoire filled with office junk, and a space under the built-in "sideboard" in the dining room needs to be cleared out of more office junk.

A decision needs to made about moving my "office" off the breakfast area dining table.

 I always think about painting all the walls in the house white. And the outside of the house black.

Alberto's man cave needs some serious editing, cleaning, and new window treatments and ceiling fans. And Alberto needs a shoe rack in the closet.

What I'd like to do in Alberto's man cave

The Tangoman needs shoe storage

And of course, there are always major things, like a porch roof that needs to be completely redone, an attic window replaced, a new roof, power washing the house, killing weeds that sprout on the brick pathway and in the river rock in the driveway and walkways. I want a screen door on my kitchen door, an old fashion wooden one, and I'd like to cut out a couple of panels in the door and add glass, so I could see the pretty patio. We'd also like to install a tank less water heater, and also get an integrated generator for hurricane season. And also rip the plastic siding off the house and restore the cypress boards. And paint the exterior. And get gas lanterns for the front porch. And maybe restore all the shutters. And put all new wood floors in the whole house. And add a powder room upstairs. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Maybe it would be better to plan the new year with losing ten pounds, or joining a work out class.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

In The Spirit Of New Orleans

It's no secret that I love New Orleans. And it's no secret that Debra Shriver loves New Orleans too.

I was listening to an interview with her on the radio the other day (on NPR). I was just flipping the dial when the warmth of her voice captured me. She was taking about the small moments she cherishes when she's in New Orleans. She talked about being on "siesta time" when she's here. Her impressions were contagious and captivating.

from In The Spirit Of  New Orleans

Debra Shriver wrote a book about her personal story about purchasing and restoring a home in the French Quarter in the gorgeous book "Stealing Magnolias - Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard". So when she told me she was doing a second book about New Orleans, I was intrigued.

What more could she say? PLENTY! The new book is published by Assouline, who has a series of "In The Spirit Of..." books, and it is great that they decided to include New Orleans, and even better that they tapped Debra Shriver to write it. So here we now have "In The Spirit of New Orleans."

Get this book!

The blurb from Assouline says that "Debra Shriver is a twelfth-generation Southerner, admitted Francophile, and devotee of jazz music. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she and her journalist husband bought and lovingly restored an 1850s Greek Revival home in the city’s historic Vieux CarrĂ© neighborhood, and chronicled her incredible story in Stealing Magnolias: Tales From a New Orleans Courtyard, published in 2010. She is a media executive with the company founded by William Randolph Hearst and sits on the boards of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and the Apollo Theater Foundation in Harlem. Shriver is a self-professed “New-New,” dividing her time between New York and New Orleans."

Moon over Bourbon Street from In The Spirit Of New Orleans

Debra and her husband Jerry are are dual citizens of New Orleans and New York. They just don't blow into town and party at a second home, but rather have become involved in the rebirth of post Katrina New Orleans. They put their money and their time where their hearts are.

There is a great overview of Jazz in the book In The Spirit Of New Orleans from it's roots to Louis Armstrong... it's current crop of fabulous younger musicians (Troy Andrews above)

"In The Spirit Of New Orleans" has all the cultural touchstones: Jazz, history, religion, food and drink, architecture, customs, people, and Mardi Gras. But yet this is vastly far from a  retread of a typical guide book. Through Debra's depth of feeling and understanding of her adopted city, its familiar themes become fresh, current, and relevant. Her writing is that of a wise and gifted storyteller. Even for those of us who know the stories of New Orleans, we are still drawn into how Debra tells (writes) them. She is a beautiful wordsmith.

New Orleans is relevant

And of course its history adds to its relevance

The selection of photographs is glorious, and the information given in the book is super solid.  There are several fascinating glossaries, one devoted to Jazz terms, one devoted to Voodoo words, and one devoted to Mardi Gras words, and there is a list of festivals and dates. The Secret Gardens & Fine Addresses guide is perfect and extremely useful.

The old Butcher's Market in the old French Market, which still exists today

As a local I love seeing books that tell the story of New Orleans with depth and understanding. I am proud to own In The Spirit Of New Orleans, and derive great pleasure from reading it. I will also be proud to give it as a gift to those who have never been to New Orleans, or to those who have visited - It is a perfect memento of their time here.

Debra devotes a couple of pages to quotes from notables and what they have to say about New Orleans. I think Chris Rose says it best, "We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large, and, frankly we're suspicious of others who don't".

Put this book on your must have list, and if you got a little Christmas cash, pick it up today. Debra is  on a book signing tour with In The Spirit Of New Orleans, so if you happen upon her, tell her The Vamp sends you.

One of my favorite paintings by Jacques Aman done in 1840,  entitled "Creole in a Red Turban" - It's included in Debra Shriver's book and it is in the collection of the Historic New Orleans Collection via

PS I would love for Debra Shriver to do a third book on New Orleans about the Quadroon Balls (a ballroom still survives in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel), the system of placage (the word is in her unique Voodoo Glossary), about the homes that the system of placage created that still stand in the French Quarter, and about the dual families who participated, the stories about their lives.

All photos courtesy of Assouline

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thinking Of You

Just a brief round up of a few of my favorite Christmas images.

I wish I was doing this with my sister

I love this painting by Ashley Longshore

Nothing like tinsel

Santa Lucy

And our Christmas card for you....