Monique Chauvin lives in a small Uptown jewel. Just 1,100 square feet on a 34-by-150 foot lot, the single side-hall shotgun house fits neatly into the quiet neighborhood of historic homes. “The first time I visited the house I fell in love with its charm,” says Chauvin, owner of Mitch’s Flowers on Magazine Street and partner with Leslie Massony in Oysteria, a company that produces unique oyster-style plates. “It seemed so warm and inviting sitting neatly behind an iron fence. Even though it only had four main rooms and a bathroom, I thought it would work just fine for me. Then I opened the back door and saw the large rear yard with many tall trees, and I knew it had to be my forever home.”
Enter Chauvin’s rear garden and you’ll see what seems like an enchanted forest with lush plants hugging the entire perimeter, dramatic courtyards created with old bricks, sculptures and enough blooming flowers to fill the front of her popular nearby flower shop. “Since my home is small, my garden becomes an important additional living space where I relax, entertain friends and let my dogs relax.”
There is no doubt that Ping and Leo, Chauvin’s Labrador Retrievers, are an important part of her life. “I love being able to go outside to my private sanctuary with the dogs and have my coffee in the mornings, or sit with friends and enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.” She enjoys the shady garden including many trees indigenous to the area that existed when she purchased the property in December 2001. “I am also especially fond of the overgrown aspect of the entire garden,” she says, “it gives me the nice feeling of a French Quarter courtyard. Everywhere you look there’s something different and I’m constantly changing the blooming flowers close to the shed.”
The 8-by-10 foot shed’s main purpose is to house garden equipment; however, it’s the perfect backdrop for hanging displays of flowers. “The inspiration for the pallet with the bromeliads and orchids came from different Pinterest posts,” she says. “I just made it work in my setting.” Then she smiles and explains, “The bromeliads, orchard and vines are plants that I didn’t sell. After I repurpose them in my garden, it’s amazing how each one takes on new life once it joins my garden family.
Walk inside Chauvin’s home and you’re greeted by the side hallway filled with a collection of watercolors and an American flag. The side hall offers an introduction to my eclectic tastes,” she says. “Of special importance is the American flag that dates back to the World War II-era, and I cherish the collection of watercolors that were a gift from a friend. I especially enjoy the fact that the side hall allows the two front bedroom to be completely private.”
Her front bedroom is reserved for guests, while the master bedroom is in the quiet, central part of the house. The guest bedroom features a French 18th century antique bed and an 19th century armoire, while the master bedroom holds Chauvin’s collection of perfume bottles on top of an antique 19th century dresser. The back of the house provides just the right amount of space for the living and dining room, kitchen and bathroom. Chauvin gives credit to Leslie Massony for helping her with the placement of art and paint colors. “Leslie has a great sense of design and knows how to define my taste.” Mark Chauvin, her brother, who’s a contractor in Houma, helped make the changes she wanted to the house.
“Everything about my home delights me, and when I open the French doors in the kitchen that lead to the wonderful garden, I marvel at my good fortune to have found this wonderful house more than a decade ago. Here is where I spend time relaxing and enjoying living both the inside and outside in my peaceful garden. It is a perfect retreat from my busy work-a-day-world.”