Renovated shotgun becomes a gingerbread-trimmed home for growing family

Photos by Jeff Strout

Visit this historic home and other fine examples of New Orleans’ beloved shotgun houses at the Shotgun House Tour presented by Entablature Design + Build and Entablature Realty on June 11 and 12.

Click here for tickets and more tour details

Back in 2015, E. Lee and Jason Mead purchased what was then a hollowed-out shotgun. The couple, who had one child and a second on the way, surmised that the property was missing the original back of the house where a termite-ridden lean-to had been tacked on and that it had been converted from single family to multifamily usage at some point because there was more than one meter.

Working with E. Lee’s uncle, architect Davis Jahncke, they remodeled the entire house, turning it into a two-story, gingerbread-laced residence surrounded by a picket fence and facing what had originally been the side street of the corner lot.

E. Lee’s father had purchased the house several years earlier to renovate and sell, but the couple thought they could turn it into their family home. “It’s not a large lot, but it isn’t small either,” said E. Lee, noting that the young family was eager to upgrade from the small condo that they occupied a block away.

The couple tore off the rear addition, closed in the front porch and created an expanded floorplan that includes master suite, dining, kitchen, living area and back porch on the ground level with the two kids’ rooms, a Jack-and-Jill bath, a laundry room and play space on the new second floor.

“When we first moved in, once a month someone would come by and would get upset with us for ‘tearing it down,’” said E. Lee, noting that the quality and mismatched condition of the existing features like doors and hardware made it impossible to salvage much. “People have a lot of attachments to this house.”

These days, no one is objecting. The refreshed residence has historic character that is both charming and in keeping with its Uptown neighborhood. The Meads replicated the existing gingerbread trim and added a decorative crossbar found hidden inside the ceiling during the renovation to the peak of the new roofline. They also found a reclaimed front door that looks like the original one but is sturdier, and chose classic finishes and details, such as Carrera marble counters, a leaded glass window that feels true to the period of the house and heart pine floors.

“We tried to make the materials and the design of the cabinets reflect the physical home itself,” E. Lee said. “We wanted things to look aged and like they’ve been there a while.”

Once the house was renovated, E. Lee, a decorative painter, worked on the décor, which includes family heirlooms mixed with auction finds, contemporary pieces and furniture and accessories that she customized with painted finishes. After seven years in the house, E. Lee and Jason, a financial advisor, and their children — Alice, 10, and Thomas, 7 — have had time and space to consider additional elements of design as well. Recent updates include a tree-filled mural that E. Lee painted in the dining room and new landscaping by Roussel Outdoors in front and back, the latter being a place where the family spends a lot of time, thanks to their comfortable porch.


“I always go back to British décor,” said E. Lee of the mural inspired by the work of British designer Nicky Haslam, adding that while both she and Jason like traditional pieces, she likes to shake up things by incorporating items that are “a little less expected.”

Turquoise sconces and a new modern sofa with a performance fabric also have found their way into the design, which is fresh yet practical and livable for a family with young children.

“I’ve tried to make things come alive with paint and artwork and painted furniture,” said E. Lee, indicating that the house will continue to be a work in progress.

“I really enjoy the process of life and work,” she said, “what is in the middle mostly and not the beginning and never an end.”


Shotgun House Tour, presented by Entablature Design + Build and Entablature Realty, will open the doors to five stunning private shotgun homes, all with smart, innovative renovations that showcase the livability and versatility of the city’s favorite house type.

Saturday & Sunday, June 11 & 12,
10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day
Audubon Riverside neighborhood

Learn more & buy your tickets today!