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Charlotte’s Cottage

Charlotte Williamson renews and Uptown bungalow with modern updates and vintage finds.

The living room’s mix of vintage includes a pair of vintage chairs from Jefferson Flea Market, a small Italian accent table purchased from a vintage store on Magazine Street, an elliptical sofa recycled from a friend and a pair of textured gold lamps with oval shades. Chandelier from Carrollton Lumber & Wrecking.

Eugenia Uhl Photograph

Charlotte Williamson’s energy and hands-on creativity is evident all around her. At her Magazine Street salon (where you’ll regularly find Charlotte; her standard poodle, Orillion; and her maltipoo, Babette), she collected the vintage furnishings, designed the décor, has sold her own jewelry and carries a selection of charming gift tags (which she hand-makes) – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Renovating homes is the thing she loves most these days; she’s completed three in the last decade.  “After I did the first one, I got the renovating bug,” she says, with no sign of the exasperation that often accompanies major remodels. “I’m obsessed with creating spaces.” The first of Charlotte’s houses sold quickly via word of mouth, the second was published in the January/February 2004 issue of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles before being sold, and the third has convinced her that remodeling houses is a passion she’ll continue for years to come. “I really like making a house my own space, but I also could do it as a profession,” she says.

After buying the 1920s Arts and Crafts bungalow on these pages, Charlotte consulted an architect friend for advice on new kitchen and bathroom designs and hired the contractor who’d renovated her salon. Though parts of the house included vintage features she wanted to keep – the existing bath had yellow and green Mid-Century tiles – those plans soon gave way to a more thorough renovation. “The house had a bathroom just like the one in Casamento’s,” Charlotte says, explaining that she purchased the cottage from a member of the Casamento family. “But one day, I leaned on the shower and the whole tile wall came tumbling down.”  

Without changing the footprint of the house, Charlotte remapped the layout of the rooms. The small kitchen located at the rear of the house became the dining area, a sun porch next to the original kitchen became the master bath and walk-in closet, and the original bathroom became a refurbished guest bath. The central locations of the new kitchen (between the dining and living areas) and guest bath (between the two bedrooms) have proved perfectly suited to the flow and size of the two-bedroom house.  The open kitchen provides easy access to the living and dining rooms and Charlotte uses both bathrooms equally as they flank her bedroom. “There is no wasted space in this house,” she says.

To lighten and brighten the space, she added French doors, stripped and finished the doors with a pale, barely detectable wash that highlights the natural grain of the wood and worked largely with a palette of white. During the day, the kitchen and master bath’s glossy white surfaces are luminous, thanks to plenty of natural light. Color is mostly reserved for furnishings and artwork and for the genial garden of flowers and succulents she created in the backyard.

Charlotte’s love of collecting vintage furnishings and decorative accessories (she’s especially fond of flea markets and roadside finds, often repurposes things and claims to have only bought two new pieces over the years), is balanced by the fact that she’s also a well-organized minimalist with the advantage of periodically swapping out furnishings and using them in her salon.  “I really cherish the things I find and hold on to them for a long time,” she says.

As with each of her previous houses, she’s fashioned an environment that’s both visually appealing and comfortable. But a new property has caught her eye and once again ignited her irrepressible passion for renewing old homes – and inevitably moving. “You have to live in a house before you know how to tweak it,” she says.

 

The dining room’s console was made from a Chinese door. Console and bottles from Balzac Antiques. Watercolor  from Bargain Center.


The kitchen’s rectangular island features glass tiles and a raised glass surface for casual bar-style dining. Corian counter, high gloss IKEA cabinets, CBII bar stools. The lotus light fixtures from World Market appealed to Charlotte’s love of yoga and Eastern culture.


Charlotte likes to spend lazy Sundays on the back porch, which she outfitted with light-filtering privacy drapes and a clothesline.


She turned a sun porch into a new master bath featuring Calacatta Gold marble and a glass-front shower with translucent windows. Sinker cypress wood from Charlotte’s father tops the vanity.


Charlotte’s art collection includes a group of nudes. The mirror was left by the previous owners and Charlotte painted it.


A pair of gilded wooden wings from A.K.A. Stella Gray occupies a corner of the living room. Framed portraits by Nancy Rhodes Harper, from Stella Gray.


A neighbor of Charlotte’s parents made the swing on the front porch, which Charlotte painted and paired with turquoise chairs. “I sit on the front porch a lot to visit with my neighbors,” says Charlotte.

 

 

 

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