Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

The New Southern Gothic: A Rehabbed Shotgun House in New Orleans, Available for Rent

Search

The New Southern Gothic: A Rehabbed Shotgun House in New Orleans, Available for Rent

January 26, 2018

Rosa and Seth Dunlap had just left their hectic, corporate jobs in Chicago for a slower, warmer life in New Orleans—and had begun renovation work on their newly purchased center-hall-style house in the Lower Garden District—when the owners of the dilapidated 1880s shotgun house next door put it up for sale. Smitten with the history and architecture of the city, and eager to try their hand at revamping an iconic example of New Orleans architecture, they bought it as an rental property and got to work.

“The house was in really bad shape—no attention had been paid in last twenty to thirty years. There was a tree growing on the back of it,” Seth explains. But they figured that a simple shotgun house would be a good way to learn how to DIY, and took it down to the studs. The previous owners approved, they said: “They saw that we were making an investment in the block, that we cared about restoration and preservation, that we weren’t just flippers. They knew that the house would be in good hands.” The result: a sophisticated shotgun that marries new with antique. And now that Rosa and Seth have moved into their newly completed center-hall home, the shotgun is available for rent—see Kid & Coe and VRBO for more. (I stayed there myself a few months back on a trip to New Orleans. Take a look inside:

Photography by Augusta Sagnelli.

a view from the front parlor all the way through to the back door. like any sh 9
Above: A view from the front parlor all the way through to the back door. Like any shotgun, the house is designed for airflow, with several small, successive rooms and 12-foot ceilings. In keeping the original function of a shotgun’s front room—traditionally used as a bedroom, as shotguns often housed multiple families—a chartreuse settee from Rosa’s family folds out into a bed for additional guests.

“There’s a reason these houses are designed the way they are, and we wanted to preserve that. Our intention was never to change the floor plan, but adapt it to modern times,” Rosa says. The renovation was an intense four-month process, starting with navigating the local contractor business. “NOLA is a unique place, with lots of historic properties. Finding those good craftsmen, the right network and connections, was hard,” Seth says. They ended up going through a few contractors before deciding to manage the project themselves. “You have to be comfortable micromanaging, because tons of decisions get made every day,” adds Rosa. They never had a set of plans, and instead figured it out along the way, but they weren’t unfamiliar with design: Seth’s father dealt antiques and then worked for an architectural firm in Indiana; Rosa’s parents have run an antique store in Kansas for over 40 years.

When it came time to paint, Rosa chose Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace for all the walls and Onyx for the doors and fireplaces. “I love using white for walls and black for accents. It’s a simple way make the historic details a canvas for a more eclectic layering of furniture and decor,” she says. The floors are the original antique pine, stained with a custom mix to tone down the red and sealed with DuraClear.

4 augusta sagnelli shotgun home nola 006
Above: Several of the pieces in the house come from Rosa’s parents’ shop, Mill Creek Antiques. “I spent a lot of time there growing up, helping with merchandising, arranging things,” says Rosa.

In addition to the antiques store, Rosa’s parents often had side projects restoring neglected, old limestone houses that they would either rent or sell. “Seeing our parents doing this work—saving something significant—we developed a passion for bringing these places back to life,” adds Seth. A trip to Copenhagen just before the renovation—Seth also lived there for a few years in his twenties—provided some Scandinavian influence. That, plus a bit of good old-fashioned swankiness, made for a modern Gothic feel.

rosa shotgun home new orleans 019
Above: The front parlor and a sitting area lead into the central kitchen. On main wall: basic 4-by-10 subway tile from a local tile store, brass sconces from Circa Lighting, and an antique hanging cabinet was found in an architectural salvage shop.
the dark base cabinets are custom, fitted with cabinet pulls from van dyke’s  12
Above: The dark base cabinets are custom, fitted with cabinet pulls from Van Dyke’s Restorers that Rosa stripped with a homemade concoction of salt, vinegar, and some time in the oven to dull the shiny brass finish. “Our nanny at the time thought I was crazy!” she says. The apron-front kitchen sink is a now discontinued model from Ikea. The faucet is from Newport Brass.
“it’s like an instrument. it has to be tuned, you have get to know it,” s 13
Above: “It’s like an instrument. It has to be tuned, you have get to know it,” says Seth of the vintage Chambers stove from Rosa’s parents’ shop. The pot-filler faucet is also from Newport Brass.

12 augusta sagnelli shotgun home nola 016
Above: “I didn’t set out to reinvent brown furniture here, but it just sort of happened,” says Rosa of the many antiques from her family’s store. “Historically people have had matching sets of brown furniture and it usually gets put up against a color or beige wall. ‘The Beige-ing of New Orleans,’ as we call it. We had a beautiful, clean backdrop with the walls and tiles and needed something warm, old, sculptural against it. Up against white, these pieces become a dark element, almost black.”

Of the preserving the home’s historic bones, Seth says, “We saved everything we could. We wanted to highlight the original features that we could salvage—window casings, pocket doors, the wavy glass windows, transoms, wood flooring,” says Seth. The house has eight fireplaces within its 1,900 square feet; all were left intact during the renovation, though the chimneys were long since removed.

rosa shotgun home new orleans 024
Above: The first bathroom is tiled with the same subway tile as the kitchen. The pedestal sink is by Barclay, purchased from the local plumbing supply; the faucet is from Waterworks, and the double sconce is from Rejuvenation. The Turkish towel comes from Sunday Shop in New Orleans (Rosa is friendly with the designer-owners).
rosa shotgun home new orleans 022
Above: Shelves with a black backdrop highlight supplies above the toilet.
in the master bedroom, the last room of the house, rosa found a metalworker to  17
Above: In the master bedroom, the last room of the house, Rosa found a metalworker to create a dramatic custom canopy out of hollow metal tubing and matching curtain rods. Here, she mixes antique elements with modern: “I’ve never felt comfortable just buying a bunch of stuff to fill a room,” she says. “I’d rather work with what I have or what already exists. It’s a very intuitive process: Sometimes it’s about editing back, or buying old stuff as you’re attracted to it, being patient and disciplined.” Rosa considers herself self-taught, guided by a love for the process: “This is my play space. I don’t take take anything too seriously, nothing is too precious, there are no rules,” she says.

 rosa experiments with pairings, as in a rattan bedside table among vintage wo 18
Above: Rosa experiments with pairings, as in a rattan bedside table among vintage wooden pieces, or a vintage Breuer chair with a bamboo desk found at a thrift shop.
the daybed in the back bedroom was a forgotten, unwanted piece in the back of a 19
Above: The daybed in the back bedroom was a forgotten, unwanted piece in the back of an antiques store in Metairie, Louisiana. “I saw some charm in the midcentury, mossy green cover and wanted to give it new life,” says Rosa. The lamp is a knock-off of the Grasshopper Floor Lamp. Through the door to the left: the master bath, with floor tile from SomerTile.
in the master bathroom: black painted wood cladding, a triptych mirror, and a  20
Above: In the master bathroom: black-painted wood cladding, a triptych mirror, and a faucet from Waterworks’s Julia line. The sink is by Barclays.
Rosa and Seth lived in the shotgun house for a year while their main house was being renovated (and their son learned to walk there, they tell me). “We built the house for our own lifestyle, but it has extended well. It was a good empathy exercise,” says Rosa. Now that they’ve moved back into their main house, the shotgun house is available for vacation rentals, and the couple hopes it feels authentic, a window into what it’s like to be a local in the city. “NOLA offers a euphoric feel when you arrive,” Seth says. “There’s a rhythm and magic to the city. We want to create spaces that draw people—it’s part of the magic of being here. And we want them to come back. We have met so many people through this house. That gives us so much joy—it’s such a fulfilling aspect of this work.”

And the couple is ready for their next project, a few blocks away, where they recently bought a pair of commercial warehouses. We’re keeping an eye on what they do next.

More vintage gothic in New Orleans:

Product summary  Item 7 152Item 8 153

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0