The bad news is that Hurricane Katrina flooded their Lakewood South home with seven feet of water. The good news is that they sold their flooded house and moved into a wonderful house in the Garden District. “We always loved the Garden District,” says Ann Marie Jackson. “When we first dated, I lived in an apartment just blocks away for here and we both hoped that someday we could own a home in the Garden District.”

HOME: ESCAPE TO THE GARDEN DISTRICTSculptured, whimsical, metal panels, especially fashioned for thehouse, provide a decorative and practical alternative on the porch andbalcony.

For Ann Marie and her attorney husband Cris, Hurricane Katrina presented an opportunity. “After the hurricane I was living at our camp in Lafitte and Cris was living in Baton Rouge,” she continues. “We wanted to come back to New Orleans and we looked all over for a home to purchase so we could get settled with our two young sons. Imagine our joy when we found the perfect house for our needs in the Garden District and our offer to purchase it was accepted.”

Both agreed that they wanted a house that was in “move-in” condition. “We didn’t feel we were up to tackling a big renovation project after all we had been through. We just wanted to move in and begin living a normal life. The only problem with the house was that the shelves in the refrigerator had been thrown away by the person who cleaned it out after the storm,” she added with a smile. “When I opened the door and discovered no shelves, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘Oh well, nothing is perfect.’” (She did find replacement shelves eventually.)


HOME: ESCAPE TO THE GARDEN DISTRICTOld clarinets are used as curtain rods in the breakfast room.

The couple, along with their two sons – Rader, 5 and Christian, 3 – still smile at the ease of their search. “We sold our once flooded home to an investor, so there was nothing standing in our way to begin life anew in the area we loved the most.”
Surrounded by a well-planned garden created by garden designer Beverly Katz, the Jackson’s house has personality, plus. It isn’t one of those cookie-cutter, neutral-colored houses you often find in New Orleans. This is a house of color – from the blue exterior to the vivid colored walls of the interior. “It’s amazing that Deborah Owens, the previous owner, had used colors we loved,” Ann Marie said. “Deborah had moved to Kentucky where she bought a horse farm, and we walked right in and felt right at home in her old home. We even purchased some of her furniture.”

HOME: ESCAPE TO THE GARDEN DISTRICTA granite slab supported by an iron base creates the table in the dining room.

There were many imaginative touches that the previous owner had added, such as the porch and balcony metal cutout designs that were used instead of normal railings, giving the house a touch of whimsy. Other unique features crafted especially for the house are the tall iron side gate and adjoining sculptured fence that lead to the side garden. “We saw Beverly’s work in New Orleans Magazine and commissioned her to redo our garden,” she explains. “She did a great job creating something quickly that really added to the beauty of the house.”

Once inside the Jacksons’ house, colors seem to dance from room to room. “The bold teal-color in the living room gives it character,” Ann Marie says. “I purchased the pair of couches from the previous owner, then added my personal touch by placing an antique settee against the window.” For added interest, handmade pillows were placed on the couches and settee. “The lamp in the corner is like a work of art and the floor lamp with its multi-colored cloth shade definitely adds interest to the room. A large painting by Betty Cunningham completed the dramatic look I like.” Ann Marie brought in artist Nancy Lavie to help her style the first-floor spaces.  

HOME: ESCAPE TO THE GARDEN DISTRICTThe dramatic living room features a pair of leather couches and anantique settee, while a unique lamp illuminates the corner and apainting over the couch, by Betty Cunningham

Instead of the usual coffee table, a tufted, leather-covered bench sits in front of the pair of leather chairs in the sitting room, while in the breakfast room, a granite slab atop an iron base creates a unique table for dining. “I especially like the curtain rods that are actually old clarinets,” she says. “Everything is fun in this house.”

HOME: ESCAPE TO THE GARDEN DISTRICTA tufted leather bench serves as a coffee table in the den

Upstairs, the bedroom Rader and Christian share has a painted wall with a scene from a forest. “The mural was here when we purchased the house,” Ann Marie says. “It was painted for Deborah’s daughter, but it works fine for our sons.

“There are so many things to like about this house, including the high ceilings, but most of all, it’s a sturdy house where nothing is untouchable for the children. They love to run and play.  

“We still marvel at our good fortune in finding a perfect Garden District home,” she says. “It was terrible losing everything in our old home, but we always say that it’s a sad story with a happy ending.”

Cris and Ann Marie Jackson with sons Christian and Rader.