Elizabeth and Brad Edwards’ French Quarter Retreat
Edwards lightened the inside of the house, which has windows on one side only, with white paint and had all of the chandeliers cleaned; she also removed heavy dentil crown molding from the tops of the walls and left the millwork and floors with a natural finish for contrast; sofa, Joss & Main, painting over mantel by Bill Gingles, from Gallery Orange.
Elizabeth and Brad Edwards already loved New Orleans when they decided to look for a second home. The couple, both of whom were raised in Louisiana, married in New Orleans and lived here while Brad went to medical school and did his residency. Houston became home for the Edwardses and their two children, now ages 16 and 14, but during Christmas 2012, inspired by the family’s New Orleans-themed Christmas ornament, Elizabeth suggested the couple buy a home-away-from-home in the Big Easy. In less than a month, she connected with a realtor and went to see a 19th century Creole cottage in the French Quarter that had been languishing on the market for three years. She immediately fell in love with the house and its charming courtyard.
Brad, however, needed some convincing. Months passed before the couple committed to buying the property, which was in serious need of structural repairs and maintenance. A previous owner had renovated the bathrooms, but a poorly executed balcony enclosure needed to be removed and there was termite damage. Nevertheless, the couple took the plunge and enlisted John-Alexis Crouch of French Quarter Renovations to do the work. “He was amazing,” said Elizabeth. “His attention to detail was impeccable.”
The couple also worked with the View Carre Commission, Albert Architecture and structural engineers at Morphy Makofsky to renovate the house with respect for its architectural integrity. The original portion of the house is believed to have been the free-standing kitchen to the house next door, with an addition made later, and the courtyard is proportionally larger than many because a second building that once occupied part of the property is no longer there. A plaque on the exterior of the house notes that local architect and Vieux Carre property owner Leon Impastato, once lived in the house.
The Edwardses wasted no time moving in, even while the renovations were underway. Elizabeth used a single shade of white to lighten and prime the interior for art, then brought in the furnishings she had been culling since first seeing the property five months earlier. “It’s funny, I started collecting and buying things for the house before I even owned it,” she confessed. “When we moved in, I had everything to completely decorate it except the art.”
Because it was a second home, she decided to buy anchor pieces such as sofas from affordable on-line sites such as Joss & Main. That left room for splurges on period antiques such as the armoire in the master bedroom, which speak to the age of the place. Because the interior was narrow and dark with few windows, she used mirrors to reflect light and open the space. She also recycled pieces from her Houston home and inherited pieces, such as the dining table and chairs, which had belonged to Brad’s father.
Where possible, she played to the romantic history of the French Quarter with appropriate flourishes. The guest room’s antique reproduction bed, which formerly occupied her daughter’s room is Houston, is now draped with a canopy of mosquito netting ordered online. As a counter-balance to the more historic elements, she opted for contemporary, mostly abstract art, which like the house itself, was a serendipitous love-at-first sight discovery. While walking down Royal Street one day with her son, Elizabeth stumbled upon Gallery Orange and ended up buying multiple paintings from that first visit. The gallery has since become her go-to French Quarter source for contemporary art and its owner, Tracy Geilbert, has become a close friend. Other favorite destinations for home décor include Moss Antiques and Lucullus.
The Edwardses’ house, which had two bedrooms and two baths when they bought it, now has three bedrooms (Elizabeth turned the front entrance into a room with a daybed) and two and a half baths. The family uses it frequently for holidays and weekend get-aways. Brad enjoys fly-fishing in Louisiana waters; Elizabeth’s favorite local pastime is sipping coffee in her peaceful courtyard.
“We love the Audubon Cottages,” said Elizabeth of the French Quarter hotel, comprised of seven secluded 18th century cottages, which served as a model for the pied a terre. “My goal was for this to be as beautiful as they are. But I think it’s even better.”