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, 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.}

Uncategorized

New Orleans Love

Hello, all!

Brandie here. It’s been a while, but it feels beyond wonderful to be back at home here on Hunt and Gather to share the details of my wedding planning experience. The event decor and details will be a reflection of mine and Megan’s design sensibilities as she will have a hand in planning the big day, so we felt it was only right to document the journey here.

James (my sweet fiance’) and I share a love for renovation. As the founder/owner of a widely successful remodeling business, our conversations are often filled with talk of how to make what is old new again. After he proposed on New Year’s Eve and we began discussing where to have our wedding, it really only took a few minutes to decide on New Orleans, which  quintessentially represents all that we are. We both share a lifelong love for the New Orleans Saints, King Cake, Jazz, good food, and good times. Most of all, I think The Big Easy gives us a sense of home because of the unique historic architecture, the colorful sounds and faces, and the idea that life, to be most beautiful and full, should be lived not so seriously, but instead always with a cup of chicory coffee in hand and the sounds of a lonely saxophone and streetcar in the background.

Picking the city was easy. Picking the venue took a bit more thought. After looking at (no exaggeration) about forty places, I narrowed it down to two, which happened also to be the two Megan suggested to me in the first place (she knows me too well, y’all): The Latter Library and The Columns Hotel. The thought of getting married to the man of my dreams in an old library, surrounded by a plethora of books, made me swoon. However, after some inquiry, I learned that the branch is currently undergoing massive renovation. That left one choice-The Columns. The photos left me smitten and their events coordinator, Adam, was the most helpful and warm of any I spoke with. We made a weekend trip down to see it in person and, much like with James, it didn’t take long before I knew this was the one. The grandiose old residence turned hotel boasts exquisite Victorian detail inside and out. All around are massive, ancient oak trees, behind is a magnificent Garden District residential neighborhood, and out front is perhaps the most iconic of all New Orleans’ symbols: the St. Charles streetcar line. Everywhere you turn, it’s so VERY, so FABULOUSLY New Orleans.

We will be married in their back courtyard in a small ceremony of our closest family and friends. The reception will be housed inside in the Ballroom. Megan and I are excitedly working out the design details, using many of the things I already have in my home. Be looking for posts on this, as well as our oh-so-fabulous Jazz band, the food, the photographer, the party favors and so much more! Next week’s post will veer a bit from these specifics, as I will be talking about invitations and the struggle of choosing the right design and some advice for brides forced to choose guests when faced with a small count.

If you’d like to see for yourself the wonder that is The Columns, visit them at http://www.thecolumns.com for photos and a virtual tour or, better yet, in person. The Uptown location offers a more low-key approach to The Crescent City, the rooms are perfectly historic and quaint, the streetcar makes travel around the city beyond convenient, and the food is top-notch.

It will be the catalyst that drives the details of our day to be completely and absolutely perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

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.