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

+

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!

event planning, new orleans

Old House + Love

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Hello friends, I have wonderful news!

If you’ve followed Hunt & Gather Home from the very beginning, you know that this business began as blog, started by two friends that share an eye for design, a love for old houses, and a fondness for the written word.

Some seasons of life have allowed me and Brandie to post more often than others. We’ve celebrated joys and shared struggles through the lens of our homes. Within the wood-frame walls of our houses we find comfort, strength, peace, and inspiration, and we’ve enjoyed sharing that with all of you.

And now, we look forward to sharing another of life’s most joyous occasions:  Brandie’s upcoming marriage in New Orleans!

She will be back on the blog soon (and perhaps even weekly!) to share design details about her big day, but I’m so honored to announce that Hunt & Gather Home will have a hand in bringing these details to life at the lovely and historic Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.

From historic preservation to interior design to wedding decor, Hunt & Gather Home will be busy these next few months celebrating the things we love most: historic architecture, good design, and the love of family.

[photo source]

Uncategorized

Big Magic

Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.

We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.

We are terrified, and we are brave.

Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic  

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I find myself putting off blogging because I feel I don’t have the time to perfect my writing, edit photos, and properly arrange the story these beautiful buildings have to tell. But after reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I’ve decided to quit taking this work so seriously, and ironically, start taking this work seriously, and blog a little bit each day.

So, here are a few interior photos showing interior details of my tax credit project on Fifth Street in downtown Alexandria. I hope they remind you that beauty exists amongst the overlooked, the neglected, and in the middle of the mess.

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And seriously, go pick up a copy of Big Magic now.

 

Uncategorized

Dream Project

I’ve been keeping this one a secret for awhile now, but I just can’t hold it in any longer.  I am so pleased to show you my newest historic preservation tax credit project in downtown Alexandria, Louisiana.

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Isn’t she lovely? I’ve had a crush on this nineteenth-century Queen Anne cottage for awhile now.  It was the steep pitch of the hipped roof that first caught my eye.  Then, those shutters – a common sight in New Orleans, but a rarity here in downtown Alexandria, which, has lost over 80% of its historic structures in the past thirty years, the majority of them residences.

Located on what is now the edge of downtown, this little cottage managed to escape all known threats to historic structures: demolition, vandalism, re-muddling, interstate highways, and fire.  I’m not quite sure how she made it to this point in such good shape and with nearly all of her original features, but I am so thankful she did. I’ve been known to drive by just to check up on her and make sure she’s doing okay.

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Can you see her potential? Sure, she needs some TLC.  But her bones are good. She’s sturdy and strong, made of virgin Louisiana cypress and pine, and built by the hands of local craftsmen skilled in their trade.

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The more of her history I research, the more I’m learning to trust in my knowledge and instinct about the age of old houses and regional architectural trends. She’s reinforcing my love for Louisiana buildings and building my self-confidence.

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This little cottage knows that life isn’t always easy or pretty. She’s seen better days. But she offers a picture of hope for the future.  Hope that, because her foundation is strong and her walls are solid, good will still come from her.

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She’s come along way, but her journey is just beginning.  You’re invited you to follow along.  I suspect she has a lot to teach us all.

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Uncategorized

Gathered | An Outdoor Adventure Inspired Nursery

If you follow Hunt & Gather Home on Instagram, you know that I post a lot of historic preservation related photos. Preservation is one half of what Hunt & Gather Home is all about, and designing inspired and livable spaces within those restored walls is the other.  While I love working on and in historic structures, having an older home is certainly not a requirement for a design project.

Case in point: Watson’s nursery.  My dear friend, Christina, recently asked me to help her gather ideas for a nursery for her third child, and first little boy, Watson. Christina and her husband are currently renting with plans to buy soon. Not knowing what size room Watson will have when he arrives, Christina let me run free with the design. She gave me only one thing to go on:  she loves the crib sheets and changing pad covers from Woolf with Me.

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Knowing Christina and her husband well, one pattern jumped out among hundreds of designs.  I knew the deer crib sheets would be a hit with her husband, a hunter, while Christina would approve of the cute design and gray color. To complement the modern hunting theme of the crib sheet and bring in a pop of color, I chose the gold arrow changing pad cover.  You’ll find those basic pieces in each of the three design boards I created for Watson’s nursery.

Since Christina has two older (and precious) girls, an heirloom crib, a comfy glider, and a chest-of-drawers will need a few updates to get them ready for little brother.  The crib will remain white, a nice contrast against the gray crib sheet.  With the addition of a black and white buffalo check throw pillow the glider will be ready for late-night rocking.  A quick coat of paint will transform the currently pink chest-of-drawers into a boy-friendly focal point in the room.
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Because Christina already had the three main pieces of furniture for the nursery, I decided to have fun with the rugs and chest-of-drawers and make them the statement pieces in the room. Black, white, and gold can be used interchangeably in all three designs.  All Christina needs to do is decide if she prefers orange or green accents!

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As Christina, her husband and kids prepare to welcome Watson into their family, my hope is that these design boards will to guide them into creating a special space for a little boy who is sure to love all things outdoors.