When Hurricane Katrina came and flooded Colleen Monaghan’s home in Lakeview, she and her partner Thomas “Tom” Lavelle, were on vacation in Hawaii. Realizing that her home was under 11 feet of water, her car was ruined and her job no longer existed, she decided to begin a new life and get a job in San Francisco. “The house in Lakeview had been built by my grandfather, Joseph Monaghan Sr., so it was extra hard losing it,” she says. However, her love affair with New Orleans outlived her brief romance with San Francisco. “I was so homesick for New Orleans, I just knew I had to come home.”

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNE Designed by Mark Schroeder, AIA, and built by Jay Hotard, theMonaghan-Lavelle home offers maximum curb appeal

Arriving in New Orleans with no place to live, she was longing for the house Tom had designed for them before Katrina. “We planned to build it in Lakeview, and it was going to be the house of our dreams,” she says. “But after the hurricane, who would dare to dream; and yet, dreams do come true in the strangest ways. I had only been back in New Orleans a few days and was interviewing for a new job, when Tom decided to drive around looking for a house. When he called me on my cell phone and said, ‘Get over here; I’ve found our house,’ I just couldn’t believe it.”

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNEPlush seating isfeatured in the living room

Designed by architect Mark Schroeder, AIA, and constructed by Jay Hotard, the house was actually being built for another couple before Katrina. That couple, however, was unable to take it because of circumstances created by the hurricane. “We don’t know exactly what happened,” Colleen says. “I just know that the minute I walked into the house, I said, ‘We’ll take it.’”

“It was eerie how much the house was like the one I had designed for us,” says Tom, an architect. The open floor plan was exactly what the couple wanted. “We had our mortgage in 30 minutes and closed the sale in 12 days,” Colleen adds. “I immediately got on a plane and went to San Francisco where I purchased everything we needed to move in. The wonderful folks at Pritchard Draperies began working on our order right away and we were living in the house in six weeks.” They were also able to salvage a few treasures from their old home, such as a painting of Venice and vases they had purchased in Florence.

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNEA jeweled antique wedding quilt from India has aplace of honor on a wall of the prayer room

The unique plan of the Monaghan-Lavelle home features a bonus room right off the foyer that could be used as an extra bedroom, office or sitting room. A full bathroom directly after, adds to the attractiveness of the floor plan. Colleen had other ideas for the room. “We call it our prayer room,” she explains. “It’s one of my favorite spaces in the house and we furnished it with unique things such as a jeweled, antique wedding quilt that was made in India that we hung on the wall.” One feature they both liked was the handsome foyer and open stairway to the second level. “As an architect, I don’t like wasted space,” Tom says. “I have to admit that the two-story volume of the foyer does give an interesting introduction to the house.” HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNE
Colleen Monaghan and Tom Lavelle
The entire back of the first floor is one open space for the living, dining, kitchen and breakfast rooms. “It makes it seem even larger than it is,” Tom continues. “We also like the fact that the ceiling is 10 feet high downstairs and nine feet high on the second floor.” Colleen found much to like about the house. “It has so many nice features, including large windows in the living room and breakfast room that overlook the rear garden, and a fireplace in the living room. We were both excited with the garage door that opens from both the front and back. It’s a great idea that means the garage can become an outdoor room for a party since it adjoins our porch and patio.”

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNEThetwo-story foyer offers drama as you enter the house.

Now with new jobs (Colleen is Director of Sales for Berning Marketing and Tom is a Project Manager for Urban Planning and Innovations, Inc.,) a new house and new furniture (with a few salvaged treasures,) there is a positive final chapter to the couple’s Katrina story. “The house is so right for us,” Colleen says with a smile. “I still marvel at how it all happened.” Tom agrees with her and adds, “The last thing I expected was to find an almost replica of the house I had designed for us, all ready to move into right away.” Both agree that this is a Katrina story with a happy ending.

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNEThe tall bed in the master suite is dressed in acustom spread and pillows. Mirrored end tables and a largeVenetian-style mirror over the bed further enhance the look of grandeurof the space

HOME: UNEXPECTED FORTUNEElegance is the watchword in the dining room that is deckedout for a grand meal