Shotgun houses are the original flex plan homes. Most built in New Orleans are more than 100 years old, yet the layout of the rooms (except for kitchens and baths) allows one to use them as they wish. A bedroom might be turned into a dining room, or a living room might be turned into a bedroom. By adding room-specific furniture, one can choose the function of the room.
You never know what you are going to find behind the closed doors of a shotgun house. They may look humble and small from the street, but once you’re inside, generous spaces are revealed and unraveled. Renovators today come up with clever solutions to adapt the shotgun house to modern needs. Open floor plans and additions that include new kitchens and family rooms – or maybe a luxurious master suite – are solutions used to enhance the classic enfilade layout of the original footprint of the shotgun house.
Pamela and Seph Dupuy have one of the most interesting shotgun house floor plans. Originally, the house was a five-room double. A formal double parlor separated by a central fireplace is at the front of the house. The Dupuys use one side as a music room and the other side as an office area. Both rooms are painted Bleeker Beige by Benjamin Moore, which is also the color used in several other rooms throughout this house. A drop leaf table is used as a desk. The desk can be cleared off, and the leaf dropped, to turn this part of the double parlor into additional salon space in the event of a soiree.
The dining table is set for 20 with a festive mix of the homeowners’ various sets of china.
The most surprising room is the space used for the dining room. Walls were removed from smaller rooms, making one very long space that accommodates a dining table that can comfortably seat 20.
Pamela says, “When the house was on the market, the long room with the bookshelves was shown as a living/dining room combo. When we bought the house I put three furniture groupings in that space. Under the center chandelier, I had two love seats facing each other. Behind one sofa I had a large square table stacked with books, so that end was the ‘library,’ which we used occasionally for dinner parties (with two chairs on each side of the table for a total of eight). Behind the other sofa I had two fauteuils and a small table, which looked quite pleasing but saw little use.”
A drop-leaf table is used as a desk in the front parlor.
The entire room was of little use to the couple. She continues, “It was simply a long, lovely walk-through.”
Pamela converted it to a dining room a couple years ago when she found a table at Crescent City Auction. “I knew it would be perfect for the space, because it was long and narrow. I’d missed having a defined dining room and couldn’t wait to get that table in my house and start using it.”
Kelly Wearstler throw on a French settee juxtaposed with a mid-century modern chair in the den; large blue pillow from Leontine Linens.
There is a small side hall next to the dining room, with two guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom off of it. This was the original part of the house. The family room, kitchen and a bedroom now used as Seph’s office, as well as the powder room, were also part of the original house. The laundry and master suite comprise the new addition. A side porch comes off the family room, leading to a private garden. Adjacent to the family room, is the new master suite, with a walk-in closet, and a spa-like bathroom large enough to hold a comfortable armchair, where Pamela loves to leaf through design books and shelter magazines. There are two sets of French doors in the master bedroom, one leading to the side porch and one leading to the back garden.
The painting over the bed by Sandy Chism; bolster sham is from Leontine Linens; throw is from Shaun Smith Home.
“I love specific-use rooms,” says Pamela. “I’m not a fan of open floor plans although my den/kitchen is a hybrid that works well. In my 20s I lived in a succession of New York City lofts and never felt comfortable. I remember thinking then how I couldn’t wait until I was ‘really grown up’ and had a home with defined rooms – living, dining, den.”
Pamela and Seph Dupuy knew each other for a number of years while they were married to other people. When their previous marriages ended, they met again socially, and a romance ensued, eventually leading to marriage. They both had lovely possessions to bring to their new home, combining two art collections, hundreds of books, furniture and an impressive collection of table settings. “This is the first house Seph and I bought together,” says Pamela. “We specifically wanted a single-story home, and we were thrilled that this house was move-in ready, as it had been renovated shortly before we purchased it.”
Pamela received her master’s in arts administration from Columbia University, and the Dupuys’ art collection is museum-worthy, quite customary in a city filled with people who support the arts. After combining their art collections, they added a few more pieces after they got married. They are especially fond of the works by Nell Tilton that they have purchased since buying this house. Other artists represented in their collection are Raine Bedsole, Sidonie Villere, Malcolm Moran, Mark Bercier, Dan Tague, Damian Aquiles, David Halliday, Sandy Chism, Jacqueline Humphries, John Geldersma, Douglas Bourgois, Sandra Russell Clark, Robert Gordy, Steve Rucker, Kathy Triplett and others. There is also a collection of 19th-century drawings they picked up during trips abroad.
Painting by Jacqueline Humphries; antique bench holds stacks of shelter magazines.
Pamela moved to New Orleans years ago to attend Loyola University, where she majored in journalism (mass communications and specialization print) before entering the master’s program at Columbia. She zigzagged between New Orleans and New York for several years before settling down in Crowley. “I adored my years in Crowley and am thrilled I had the privilege of raising my sons there. I lived in Crowley longer than I lived anywhere in my life (to date) and treasure my friends and memories from that small prairie town. Crowley is very similar to the small town in Arkansas where I grew up. We moved around when I was younger due to my father’s job transfers. About every five years there was a relocation,” she says.
Seph, a native New Orleanian, graduated from Tulane with a degree in economics. He was raised on Henry Clay Avenue and experienced the childhood Pamela always craved: He grew up in one place, whereas she moved around and always longed for the friendships shared by classmates who had known each other since preschool. Seph has friends from childhood with whom he’s still close. He briefly attended Spring Hill College in Alabama before transferring to Tulane. He raised his two children here, and they also reside in New Orleans along with their children. All his siblings live here, too.
The antique chest holds table linens; painting is by Mark Bercier.
The Dupuys’ home is filled with a variety of styles. Laughing, Pamela says, “I realize this mish-mash appears a bit schizophrenic. To say it’s eclectic makes it sound like a designer-chic mix. Nothing in our home has great monetary value, but the sentimental value on most pieces is huge. Forget about insurance replacement costs. How do you value a bookcase left to you by your parents such as the one Seph holds so dear? What price do you put on a table that you paid so little for but which held the bottle of your firstborn night after night?”
Pamela brought the pikulan pole, displayed on the mantel, home from a trip to the Republic of Myanmar in 1998. The painting is by William Parrot. The glass vases are from the New Orleans Museum of Art gift shop.
Pamela and Seph are avid readers. Pamela loves shelter magazines and design books. “Isn’t it fun to peer into the lives of others through photographs in magazines and books? I look at interiors that I know I could never live in – either because they are completely not my style yet intriguingly beautiful all the same, or so costly that I could never afford the furnishings even if they fit my ideal. I simply enjoy the escape,” she says. “If, and this is a big if, but if I had unlimited means, I’d buy a David Adler or David Easton or Bobby McAlpine house and have it decorated just so, and also have it landscaped to their exacting standards. Mr. Adler is deceased so I can’t meet him, but my decorating bucket list is to have lunch with the other two. Yep, just lunch. I can’t afford their houses! Oh, and cocktails with Miles Redd. I adore his work, but don’t think I could live in it. Still, if he can party like he can decorate, I want to hang out with that guy.”
Pamela volunteers for the Preservation Resource Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Historic New Orleans Collection. She has assisted with the PRC Shotgun House Tours and admires that the PRC values “these treasures which dot every neighborhood in the city. Humble as they may be, the shotgun is ubiquitous in New Orleans.” She also writes articles for the NVC (NOMA Volunteer Committee) newsletter and gives tours on occasion at the Odgen and gallery sits at the HNOC. Both she and Seph are in real estate. Seph has been in the real estate business for 40 years. His slogan is “Seph knows Uptown!,” and their home is a testament to that.
1. Mix all styles of dining chairs.
2. Paint all the rooms a pretty neutral, such as Bleeker Beige.
3. Collect different sets of china, flatware and glassware, and mix them together.
4. Turn a garden cart into a bar cart.
5. Make your dining room do double duty as a library by adding bookshelves.