Nothing is more charming than the quintessential historic shotgun house. Find a neighborhood of shotgun houses and you have found a treasure. Gretchen and Joel Dondis agree. “We have always admired shotgun houses,” explains Gretchen, an orthopedic nurse coordinator at Children’s Hospital. ”We purchased our house when we were engaged and moved into it on our first wedding anniversary.”
Located in the quiet neighborhood known as Hurtsville, just off Magazine Street, the house was built around 1890. “We completely gutted it down to the studs and reconfigured the floor plan to make it fit our lifestyle,” says Joel, a food-related entrepreneur (owner of Joel’s Catering, Joel’s at Hampton Inn, and the managing partner and founder of La Petite Grocery, Sucré and Grand Isle Restaurant).
Both Gretchen and Joel wanted the new floor plan to center around a large, open kitchen, while keeping the two front rooms for the usual functions of living and dining. The couple enlisted the help of architect Lisa Pulitzer to interpret their needs. “We were both pleased with the final design that features the master bedroom at the rear of the house because it is a perfectly quiet zone,” Gretchen says. A second bedroom for Hailey, their 6-year-old daughter, is nearby.
The kitchen is definitely the hub of the home. It features custom cabinets, with some of the upper cabinets fashioned with glass-front doors for added interest. Countertops are honed white Carrera marble. “We like the honed marble because it takes off the sheen and makes it appear like the old countertops you find in Europe,” Gretchen says. The center island allows for plenty of workspace and a counter where the family can informally dine.
”I also like the sitting room across from the kitchen. It’s a comfortable space for relaxing and the large windows capture maximum light.”
The couple enjoys the formal, yet not stuffy, feeling of the two front rooms. “Gretchen picked out the furnishings and we both like the warm salmon color of the sofa that blends perfectly with the plaid, silk drapes and everything else in the room,” Joel says. The velvet sofa definitely sets the palette for the room. An area rug provides some of the salmon color, as does the embossed fabric on the pair of chairs, while a darker shade of the color covers the seats of the pair of French antique chairs on one side of the room. “I found the needlepoint pillows for the chairs and sofa and I think they add a lot of style to the room,” Gretchen adds.
A round table takes center stage in the dining room that also is furnished with a handsome antique armoire and chest. “My favorite thing in the room is the painting of our rehearsal dinner at the New Orleans Museum of Art that was painted by Haydee Lafaye Ellis. It was Joel’s gift to me for our first anniversary.”
If location, location and location are the three most important things to consider when purchasing a house, the couple feels like they hit the jackpot. “We are convenient to everything,” Joel explains. “We love to support the shops and restaurants on Magazine Street,” Gretchen adds. “We have a true sense of neighborhood living here.”