architecture, design consulting, historic preservation, new orleans

Thoughts on Preservation + Design

If you follow Hunt & Gather Home on Instagram and Facebook, you may have caught my recent interview on the Preservation Destination podcast.

Ever wondered how I became interested in preservation, about my path to a career in the field, or how I’ve transitioned into owning my own preservation and design firm? I talk about it all here!

I also share my thoughts on bridging the gap between historic preservation and design and my passion for working with homeowners to recognize and reveal the unique character of their historic homes.

Be sure to add the Preservation Destination podcast to your playlist and catch up on past episodes. If you’re interested in historic preservation, the podcast offers a well-rounded and broad-spectrum look into the field. There’s a wealth of information in each episode.

Listen now!

architecture, books, historic preservation, Uncategorized

The Story of Buildings

School is back in session and that means I’m on a roll with our family’s routines. Nightly routine, morning routine, homework routine, exercise routine, meal planning, college football schedule, soccer practice….I could go on and on.

Perhaps my love of routine has something to do with my desire to be in control of my life, which I know is never truly possible nor do I actually want it to be, but I do like knowing that I have the ability, for the most part, to craft a schedule with a rhythm that suits our family. As much as we love travel and adventure, we also love being at home. There are a few elements of our routine that we’ve made a point to commit to this year. Perhaps the most rewarding has been nightly reading with our kids.

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It’s relatively easy to send my 4th grader to his room to read for 30 minutes in the evening. It’s not that hard to put aside 10 minutes to help my Kindergartener work through an early reader. It is nearly impossible to to wrangle two boys, a hard-working hubby, and my never-slow-down-self to the front porch swing to read a book aloud and together each evening. Miraculously, we have a couple-evenings-a-week streak going for us. I even think we’re all enjoying it!

It’s no secret that I’ve hand-picked many books in my kids’ library specifically because they discuss my favorite subject: architecture. The more I study and work in the fields of preservation and design, I can’t shake my observation that we have so much room for improvement in the way we shape our built environment.  It’s really important to me to pass along to my boys a way of seeing our world that considers buildings old and new. Buildings can “tell” us about ourselves through their architecture, but we need eyes to see and an architectural language to translate their message. The Story of Buildings opens children’s eyes to all types of architecture, providing a thoughtful and design-focused perspective of our world.

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When we disregard our historic built environment and are apathetic about new construction, we let quick, cheap, and easy rule the day. Whether we acknowlegde it or not, buildings contribute to the way a place makes us feel, and that sense of place is one of the most important factors in creating a vibrant, healthy community.

My kids probably haven’t picked all of this up from our recent nightly readings, but it’s my hope that their little brains absorb the fact that architecture matters. It’s powerful. It visually tells us what people value and what they do not.

People build buildings for purposes other than practical ones. They want them to show others what they care about and what they believe in. So they make them as beautiful as possible – or sometimes, if they’re making a fortress or prison, as scary as possible. And that’s why buildings change the way we feel. They can fill us with awe or calm, joy or dread. They can be so beautiful that we never want to leave or so ugly that we hurry out the door, vowing never to go back.

Buildings are far more than piles of brick or frames of steel, because every one, no matter how large or small, carries the dreams of the people who made it. When you look at a building, you wonder who lives or works there. When you visit a building, you ask yourself who built it and why. And as you stare at buildings and wonder about the people inside them, you understand that that’s what makes them so special.

Every building has a story to tell.

One of the reasons I believe historic preservation is important is because it allows buildings to continue to tell their stories – our stories – through architecture. I hope the passage above encourages you to give more thought to the built environment in which you live, work, and play, and if you need a book to guide you along the way, The Story of Buildings is a great one for the entire family.

design consulting, historic preservation

I Bought a Store!

Hi friends! It’s been awhile, but I have a good reason: I bought a store!

It sounds crazy, I know, but there is a method behind what may seem like madness. Allow me to explain.

I have long dreamed of owning a little gift shop & interiors store: a place that feels comfy and inspiring, with lots of things that make you excited when you see them and inspired when you leave. If you know me, you know this.

I never really thought that dream would be a reality. I always imagined this little shop to be on a quaint, tree-lined street in a historic town with a little cafe nearby. It would have flower boxes and I’d ride my bike to work everyday.

Turns out, my dream wasn’t too far from reality.

Last Spring, I had the opportunity to purchase an existing local business in the Garden District neighborhood of Alexandria. Southern Chic was established in 2007 by two friends, Lizette and Shelley. For the past nine years, it has been one of CenLa’s favorite little gift shops, carrying unique, artisan-made wares that celebrate the tradition and culture of life in the South.

Southern Chic was one of my favorite shops in town, and I didn’t want to see it close. I also had this vision in my head of adding a small design studio for Hunt & Gather Home in the shop’s small back room. I figured it was a long shot, but I took a chance, met with the owners, did some soul-searching… and the rest is history. I now own Southern Chic (a small shop on tree-lined Jackson Street in the historic Garden District not too far from a coffee shop and within bike-riding distance from my house) and have set up studio space for Hunt & Gather Home inside the shop.

 


Let me be the first to say that has been a risky, scary, overwhelming, and deeply satisfying journey for me. For quite a while, I’ve longed to have the flexibility and opportunity to work creatively by and for myself. I work ten times harder and ten times more than I have before, but never once have I been bored or regretted making this decision. Perhaps the most rewarding thing of all has been meeting so many great people – customers, artisans, other small business owners – all who have been so encouraging and kind as I learn the ropes and chart my own course. My family has been so supportive, working right alongside me to make this happen. It’s my hope that through this little business my boys will learn the value of hard work and determination and that they will never give up on their own dreams. I’m thankful for the opportunity to partner with my husband in running the business; he gets the real credit for pushing me towards this opportunity when I was overwhelmed with unknown details and ready to let it go. My mom is floral arranger extraordinaire and works in the shop on Thursdays, giving me the chance to squeeze in some hunting and gathering time. I am glad to have my family along for the ride; it wouldn’t be any fun without them.

So what can you expect now from Southern Chic + Hunt and Gather Home? Expect the same enthusiasm, personal service, and quality products that you received from Shelley and Lizette. I promise to search for local and regional artisans and companies that produce quality items that you’ll be excited to share with others or display in your own home. The addition of Hunt & Gather Home will bring more emphasis on interiors to the shop. I plan to do a lot more hunting and gathering of vintage, one-of-kind pieces that will really make our shop special. And, if you’re in need of a historic preservation specialist or design help, you know where to find me!  I’m looking forward to helping people find thoughtful gifts, create inspiring spaces, and save old buildings from the Hunt & Gather Studio inside Southern Chic!

 

design consulting, Uncategorized

Railway Coffee + Downtown Ruston

Independent, Small Batch, Specialty Coffee

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A Blank Slate Building in the heart of Downtown

We can’t imagine a better combination!

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We are thrilled to announce that Hunt & Gather Home will be working with Railway Coffee to bring to life a storefront roasting facility in Downtown Ruston, Louisiana!

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 Brick walls, exposed beams, raw wood…Can you see the potential? The small, local startup has big ideas and we can’t wait to help them create a space that reflects their brand. We’re loving the local vibe in Downtown Ruston and know you’ll fit right in.

Thanks Railway Coffee for choosing Hunt & Gather Home to help you bring your dream to life!

Uncategorized

Donuts > Cake

I’ve worked out (almost) every day for about three years now, but eating healthy (though I certainly see the benefits) has never been my talent. I love food. James loves food. It’s one of the things we cherish about our relationship–finding new recipes, cooking together, and (most importantly) devouring our creations. It’s also one of the things we cherish about New Orleans–savory deliciousness around every corner! Though he’s not too big on sweets, they are my guiltiest pleasure. Oddly, though, I’ve never been too keen on cake, so it seems kind of silly for two foodies to have this one foodie’s least-desired dessert as the featured sweet on our big day.

Knowing I didn’t want a traditional wedding cake was one thing, but figuring out what I DID want was a bit trickier. At first, I thought cheesecake. It’s one of my favorite sweet treats AND New Orleans has some world-famous delicacies in that department. I also considered pies, being that they are so very southern and would make for a cute display. I also loved the idea of King Cake, but May isn’t exactly the season. I was torn and not too sure of either when Megan and I met for the first time regarding the wedding and she immediately mentioned the idea of donuts (y’all, I seriously LOVE donuts) and told me to check into District Donuts. I did and it was love at first delicious sight.

District makes their donuts from scratch and each day they have fun, new flavors to try: everything from Cereal and Milk to Margarita to Red Beans and Rice. By golly, they even do a King Cake donut!

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This and other mouth-watering photos can be found via their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/districtdonuts. It wasn’t too tough to narrow down the four flavors we wanted for the wedding; we just went with those that were most New Orleans: Mardi Gras King Cake, Beignet, Wedding Cake (duh!), and Pecan Praline.

I will make some type of labels for each flavor and use some fun stands for display. It’s going to be the cutest and most scrumptious  wedding “cake” EVER. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

<Next time you’re in the Big Easy, check out District or visit them online at http://www.donutsandsliders.com or on Facebook and Instagram>

 

Uncategorized

You Are Cordially Invited {Part 2}

Invitations are done! Now you would think that what goes in the inside of the envelope is most important (and I do so love our Minted creations!), but the envelope itself can be made just as special. I knew from jump street that I wanted our envelopes to pop. So, of course, I asked my dear Megan to pretty them up using her beyond amazing handwriting abilities. She tried different ink styles and colors and did lots of practicing, getting it just right.

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We ultimately decided on a deep gold ink, to counteract the black and white, but still keep it N’awlins-esque. The bold writing helps offset the simple type of the cards within. I also decided on three different stamps to add visual interest. The Battle of New Orleans lets you know the setting before even opening the envelope, the flowers add a pop of color, and I ordered our initial stamps via Minted.com to give it that personalized, whimsical touch. I am BEYOND pleased with the final product:

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Mailing them out, however, was bitter sweet. You see, the hardest thing about planning our wedding thus far has been the guest limit. Our venue is amazing and we have zero regrets about this choice; however, because of the size of the courtyard and banquet room, we can only fit 45 guests comfortably and even this is stretching it. After ourselves, my children, and our pastor, that leaves us with twenty each. I have a large immediate family, which only leaves me with six spots for friends, three if you consider those friends have spouses/dates. My three closest friends were, of course, the obvious choices, but that still leaves me with many still wonderful people (including close family) who I love dearly and have to leave out. We are both blessed with many sweet friends and extended family, both new and old relationships, and narrowing it down to a select few has been nothing short of heartbreaking. Whenever someone asks our date and then says something like, “Oh I can’t wait to book my hotel,” I just want to crawl into a hole, because I don’t have the heart to tell them the bitter truth that we just don’t have the room. James and I are people people. We love entertaining and when we host parties, “the more the merrier” is how we abide. Neither of us think of leaving any one out, so it seems a bit strange and uncomfortable now, especially since this is the grandest, most important of any of our gatherings.

I wish their were a happy ending to the above or that I had some profound advice for other brides facing this dilemma, but I don’t, except to say sometimes you just have to be practical and go with your heart. We know that ultimately all of our friends and family understand and will hold no ill will against us for doing the best we can do with a tough situation and for understanding the following: ultimately (I’ve been told this several times since January and I know it IS truth, though not necessarily always easy), this day is only really for James, myself, and “our” children. That is what gives me peace about this whole pickle. What lucky folks we are to have so many people who wish to share in our joy at this beautiful time in our lives and I know each and every one of them will be there in spirit, but when it comes right down to it, this is where we want to share our special day and all we can do is the best we can when it comes to our guests. I have made my peace with our choices, knowing the aforementioned is all true.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

You Are Cordially Invited

If you would have told me when I began planning our wedding that the one thing that would cause me the most stress would be invitations, I would have called you crazy. The first problem: WAY too many choices for this gal who suffers from chronic indecisiveness. We eventually decided to go with minted.com (reasonably priced and so many beautiful options for all wedding personalities!) and narrowed our choices down to twenty. Ridiculous. So we came up with a little plan to slowly eliminate: I would give the computer to James and he would delete his least favorite and then I would do the same. We did this until it was down to four:

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Johannis, minted.com

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White Shadows, minted.com

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Sophistotype, minted.com

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Wed In Type, minted.com

Though I fought hard to keep White Shadows in the mix all along, because of it’s soft grey color and vintage feel, I knew I wanted something more masculine that both James and I would favor. Though Wed In Type was fun and bold, I ultimately knew it was a bit TOO bold to go with the atmosphere of the event we are trying to create. Choosing between the two that were left was tough, but ultimately we went with Johannis for several reasons that all add up to it feeling like what we want out of our wedding. It looks like the cover page of an old book, it is so very New Orleans-esque, and I love the idea of having our wedding city as a feature on the card, since our setting is the thing we are most excited about. It is important that each and every detail of a wedding, even those that aren’t exactly “decor,” be aligned with one another somehow. This cohesiveness will give your guests a more welcoming feel and your photos (taken by the right photographer, of course) will be more like a story than just a bunch of random pieces.

We ordered invitations, travel/info cards, and RSVPs, as well as custom stamps with our initials to be an additional, fun detail. We purchased two other stamps, one a vintage floral and the other the commemorative Battle of New Orleans stamp, to add visual interest and also give our guests a feel for what our event will be like. This weekend, Megan, whose handwriting should be a font, is addressing our invites and I can’t wait to see the finished product and put them all together to send out to our guests!

{Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, where I reveal the final product and talk about the other aspect of invitations that has been incredibly difficult for me.}