Faubourg Marigny is a unique part of New Orleans. Historic houses hug the narrow streets that are lined with architectural gems of every size and description. Gentrification has pushed most blighted structures into the hands of exuberant renovators. This is where horticulturist Annie Zipkin came looking after her Lakeview home had several feet of Katrina-driven water.
“I grew up in New York City,” Zipkin says. “I like to live where there’s life on the street. Faubourg Marigny has it all – it’s the neighbor of the French Quarter and embraces Frenchmen Street where you can listen to music, see the crowds, visit interesting coffee shops and eat at great restaurants. People are friendly. It’s definitely a walk-around place.
“One day I ended up on a nice block in Marigny to look at two specific houses,” she says. “Then I saw a sign on my present home and pushed my face against the windows to look inside. What I saw was a fabulous renovation with high ceilings, wood floors, mahogany doors, a modern bathroom, granite counter tops, custom cypress cabinets and even travertine floors in the kitchen area.” She adds that there was off-street parking for her truck and a large brick and concrete side courtyard that she knew would be ideal for storing plants for her work keeping the inside and outside of Hotel Monteleone and the Bienville House always looking beautiful.
Zipkin called the number listed on the “For Sale” sign and asked to see the inside. “When I stepped into the first room, I fell in love with the openness of the house. The renovation had been done well with good ceiling fans and quality stainless-steel appliances. I noticed that the windows had deep sills with no wood framing. I checked off in my head that the sills would be ideal for my plants since they would get a lot of light.”
She likes that the house is a traditional New Orleans shotgun with a unique contemporary feeling. “It was refreshingly modern,” she adds. “I quickly captured the best spot in the large front room as my office and instead of making the rest of the space a living room, I made it my dining room. It was a good decision because I enjoy the vantage point I have from my desk in the front corner. It’s liberating to look out at the large open space toward the cozy back rooms.”
To personalize the space, Zipkin painted the walls of the front room a golden yellow to go with the rust-color used on the wood ceiling. The gold tone set the palette loosely using Mardi Gras colors throughout the house; to complement a gold dining room and kitchen, she used green in the den and purple in the bedroom.
Originally the house only had one bathroom featuring a luxurious walk-in shower with a bench and body spray. “I wanted a second bathroom and gave up the large closet adjoining my bedroom to create a wonderful full bathroom with an old claw foot tub in juxtaposition with a contemporary glass counter topped with a vessel bowl for the sink,” she says. “I call it my sanctuary. I like to go in there, light candles and listen to music, meditate and drift off. Actually, the whole house is my sanctuary.
“I am at peace in my house. It’s a joyful place that makes me happy.”