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.
Professional artist Sidonie Villere’s single shotgun-meets-contemporary camelback is an ever-evolving canvas.
In her 15 years in the 3,000-square-foot house, Villere has made all sorts of updates to create calming and comfortable spaces for herself and her two children: 10-year-old son, Anson, and 6-year-old daughter, Quinn.
The kids often create artwork in the light-filled front room, while the playroom just off the kitchen is the family’s hang-out spot. The floor-to-ceiling glass doors Villere added there open to a covered porch. It overlooks the new pool completed by Aquavida Pools last fall in the new turf-covered backyard, which was installed by Roussel Outdoors. The turf helps to keep the family’s two dogs, Chocko and Belle, from tracking dirt inside.
Set on a double lot, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is comprised of an original single shotgun and a new camelback shotgun. The two-bay original shotgun dates to circa late 1890s.
The late Jule Lang, an interior designer, purchased the shotgun in 2003. Her son, architect Andrew Lang of New York-based Lang Architecture, then developed a plan to renovate it and build an addition. His design for the addition — it intentionally sits farther back on the lot — features a flat façade and modern windows as a contrast to the shotgun’s multi-pane windows. A contemporary bridge with solid-pane, floor-to-ceiling glass walls connects the two structures.
The addition is “suppressed and dematerialized to insure the distinction and connection between old and new,” according to details about the design on the Lang Architecture website. “The new shotgun is scaled in relation to the historic shotgun, but employs modern details, clearly departing from historic and accepted building practices,” the website said.
For Villere, the house is a “good mix between old and new. I love the excitement when the two somehow come together.”
Will Erickson of Yazoo Restorations and interior designer Amy Farnsworth have helped with the home’s various updates. First came a new kitchen island — Erickson matched it to the existing taupe-colored cabinets and the granite countertops — and a renovation to the guest bathroom in the original shotgun. Built-in bookcases were added along one living room wall; they now are filled with art books, family photos, and sculptures by artists Julie Silvers, Peter Callas and Steve Tobin, among others.
The increased time at home during the pandemic sparked more updates. “Since Covid, I’ve wanted to make the space warm and inviting,” Villere said. “And with my kids getting older … I wanted it to be welcoming for their friends.”
Adding warmth started with hiring Troendle Floor Co. to bleach the antique heart-pine floors and stair treads. The project removed the harsh contrast between the formerly dark stain and the cream-colored walls and trim, Villere said, brightening up the house in the process.
She also turned to wallpaper to add warmth. Schumacher’s Andromeda wallpaper (in pink) covers an accent wall in Quinn’s bedroom. (The other walls are Benjamin Moore’s A Hint of Pink.) A star-patterned wallpaper covers the children’s second-floor bathroom, where Villere also had a new mirror and sconces installed.
A multi-disciplinary artist, Villere has filled the home with unique pieces. “All of the work I’m drawn to is more abstract,” she said, noting a beloved wall-hung sculpture by former professor Rebecca Hutchinson, along with a Kathleen Banton painting and an abstract, ceramic plate by Peter Voulkos.
In the glass bridge, one of those large plates hangs above the round antique dining table, refurbished by the Renaissance Shop on Magazine Street. Once part of the original shotgun’s exterior, Villere believes the clapboard-clad wall is one of the best places to hang artwork.
Villere’s work hangs above the living room’s sofa. For the playroom, she chose a conceptual text piece by New Orleans artist Stephanie Patton. It spells out the word “hold” with mattress quilting, upholstery foam, cording and wood.
During the pandemic shutdown, a large single-pane window in the living room became the surface for a family art project. Paying homage to artist Tony Feher’s installations, Villere and her children covered the entire window with blue painter’s tape, creating a pattern of almost circular-looking starbursts. “My kids and I re-created one of the works, on and off, for a month. It was so fun and happened really organically. Now, it is one of my favorite memories that came out of such a tough time, one small silver lining to Covid,” Villere said.
She plans to make more memories in this home. “Now, I really love this house,” she said, referencing its layout, as well as its location close to Audubon Park and the conveniences of Magazine Street. “It’s fresh and cozy,” she said.
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