Cheryl Gerber photograph
It’s amazing to see how much progress the city has made since Hurricane Katrina—and sad how much has not changed. We could have gone for the obvious “What’s Not Hot”—FEMA, insurance companies and the like—but we want to celebrate what’s positive in the city. However, that said, being contrarians we still have to point out some things that aren’t so hot.
This is our second time doing this—the first time was in October 2004 so you may see some categories repeated—and are worth mentioning again. So, sit back, read and agree or disagree.
Too much beige
Courtesy of The Spa Shop, Mandeville
What’s hot in home renovation
Green homes. It’s good karma to help save the planet—and yourself. (And don’t forget to turn to this issue’s article about this topic on p. 32.) Second place: Modular homes. Some architects may dislike the concept, but it’s a quick and economic solution to building a new home.
It’s better than a FEMA trailer
Katrina cottages. Conceived by architect and planner Andres Duany and designed by Marianne Cusato, the Katrina cottage is a small, permanent house that can be quickly assembled and can withstand 140-m.p.h. winds. The cottages come in more than four styles and are reminiscent of traditional New Orleans architectural styles.
Contractor fraud: Not hot
It’s just plain wrong and a note to Best new addition to your patio An outdoor shower. And if you can have some privacy—nothing beats a shower under the stars. We also like outdoor fireplaces—s’mores anyone?
Eugenia Uhl photograph
Hot furniture trend
Swedish furniture. It’s beautiful, functional and it fits into almost any preexisting design style you have in your home.
Home accessory we would like to see less of
We’re still afraid of too much toile and animal print, but we’re adding furniture or chandeliers made of animal horns to the list.
Orange—and the variations thereof, including cantaloupe and blood orange. And to offset such hot colors, Pantone—which does a color forecast each year—suggests muted shades such with names such as Silver Peony, Tarragon, Sky Blue and Grapemist. However, classic white is always in fashion.
Color we would like to see less of
We’re not so neutral about beige. It’s fine as a wall color or a couch accented by accessories with color, but when everything is in a shade of beige … well, it’s beige.
Historic houses such as Laura Plantation
Linden Waguespack photograph, courtesy of Laura Plantation
Visit a historic landmark—that’s hot!
When was the last time you visited Gallier House in the French Quarter? Laura Plantation in Vacherie? That’s right, we knew it, it’s been a while.
It’s not too late to visit any area historic home or plantation. Each has a distinct architectural look that can give you ideas if you’re renovating or building—and you may learn something as well.
Living in a historic home—that’s hot, too!
It may be safe to say that in no other city of the U.S. can you live in such a variety of architectural styles: Shotgun, townhouse, bungalow, Richardson Romanesque, Creole cottage, Queen Anne, French Colonial Plantation, mid-century modern—and the permutations that fall within. While many homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, this heritage is worth saving.
However, be sure when your renovating, that you don’t run afoul of the City Planning Commission, the Historic District Landmarks Commission (just watch the local Government Access channel on a random night and find out!) or the Vieux Carré Commission.
Photography from a member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance – such as Eugenia Uhl
Eugenia Uhl photograph
Disregard for the importance of contemporary architecture
Once upon a time, a shotgun home was the epitome of contemporary architecture. And where would the city be without these homes? With that in mind, contemporary architecture—we’re referencing something built anywhere from the 1930s to 1970s—is often demolished (Remember the Rivergate?) to make way for something that is often inferior to the original.
There have been a number of contemporary homes in Metairie that have been torn down, even before the flooding, for a mini-McMansion that looks just like every other house on the block—though Lake Vista seems to be preserving its sleek contemporary homes.
The nightly light show at Hotel Le Cirque
Jeffery Johnston photograph
Best free show in town
The multi-colored light show on the façade of Hotel Le Cirque.
A close second: A stroll through the French Quarter—though you may still have to pay for parking.
Highway (noise) barriers that line parts of I-10. And sculpting palmetto leaves in relief don’t help—but we’ll give the state points for trying. But it makes us wonder: Do homeowners really like looking at a concrete wall? Didn’t you know that living by an interstate would be noisy?
Public space we’re looking forward to seeing completed
The development of the Fulton Street corridor, particularly by Harrah’s Casino Hotel. The hanging lights glowing at night, people bustling in and out of restaurants and clubs, cafe tables outside—it reminds us of the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair. Hopefully, developers will keep the area free of what can make Bourbon Street so annoying.
Old-school parking meters
Public design that we’re going to miss
Parking meters. Who would have thought one could mourn parking meters? But with the complicated and not-sot-hot looking ones that are replacing them, we’re positively nostalgic for its iconic shape, as well as digging through our purse for change.
Best Store Redesign
Saks Fifth Avenue. Glamorous, chic, stunning—are there any more superlatives to describe the new look of Saks? We feel underdressed walking in the store in jeans.
The main dining room at Commander’s Palace
Courtesy of Commander’s Palace
Best Restaurant Redesign
Commander’s Palace. While the exterior is still its classic turquoise, the restaurant’s interior has been utterly transformed and updated. We still haven’t decided which room is our favorite: the downstairs dining room with its Chinoiserie style bird wallpaper or upstairs with its shades of green and blues. Dottie Brennan and Lally Brennan, with help from designer Ann Dupuy, is the creative behind the re-do.
W French Quarter
Photograph courtesy of W New Orleans – French Quarter
Best hotel lobby/entryway/ courtyard redesign
W Hotels: French Quarter and Poydras Street. We noticed this before the storm, but now that we have time to mention it … the redesign of the lobby of W on Poydras made what was once a cold space into a warm den that you want to hang out in. The French Quarter redesign is reminiscent of a boutique hotel in Europe.
Favorite places to browse for a diverse selection of locally made art and crafts
The city’s art markets—Bywater, Mid-City—as well as Rhino Craft Company and the Artist’s Market on the edge of the French Market.
Douglas Bourgeois painting
Douglas Bourgeois painting, courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery
Painters Douglas Bourgeois and Amy Weiskopf. All of those mentioned in the magazine’s “Artists Profile.” And check out the New Orleans Photo Alliance—
a group of local photographers who have banded together to promote photography here and throughout the world. And take a stroll into a art gallery—you may make a discovery.
Just say no to Crocs
Seriously. If you’re not in your garden or under 12, just say no.
Hot Celebrity Houses
Celebrities love New Orleans—and that’s why so many buy homes here. Laurence Fishburne, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, Harry Shearer, John Goodman and Nicolas Cage are here—the super-hot rumor is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have bought or are very, very interested in buying something here.
Just because they’re always hot … martinis
Our staff is divided on this—you be the judge: One person likes Galatoire’s (and likes anchovies in it!), another likes Clancy’s.