House of the week: Historic home on Atlantic Ave.

If I had lots of extra cash and experience restoring homes, I would love to buy this house on Atlantic Avenue in Algiers and bring it back to its former glory. Not only is it on a lot twice as large as the properties that surround it, it has all the classic details that cause me to swoon.

Just check out that huge front porch, floor-to-ceiling windows, original hardwood floors, the unique architectural accents around the windows and doors, wainscoting, fireplace … I wish there were more pictures. The shot I have here was taken from the Google Maps Street View and offers a bit more than the pictures alone. Fortunately, someone has already put a bid on this house that’s listed for a mere $150,000. I sure hope they don’t ruin it.

5 New Orleans Homes I’d Buy If I Were Filthy Rich

Wallowing in my poverty-stricken misery, I thought a listicle of homes I could never-ever attain would serve as appropriate torture for committing a few oh-so deadly sins; specifically lust, greed and envy. Though I cannot fathom how it would feel to be filthy, stinking rich, I sure know what I would do with all that excess…

1. Victorian on Esplanade Avenue

Over 4,000 square feet of magnificent hardwood floors, elaborate moulding, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, wrought-iron balconies, high ceilings and much more. This quaint beauty also comes with a guest cottage replete with a full kitchen and it’s right on the corner of Esplanade and Royal on the edge of the French Quarter and shaded by gorgeous oak trees. It’d be a drop in the bucket to a billionaire like me listed at $2,375,000.

2. Sidehall on Dauphine

Located in the Marigny Triangle, this 1890’s Victorian Sidehall is stunning with hardwood floors and heavy wooden mouldings, double parlor, built-in bookcases, wood-beamed ceiling, impeccable architectural details both inside and out, and, to top it all off, an in-ground swimming pool out back. Compared to the first house, this one is being sold for chump change at a mere $1,250,000
3. Greek Revival Mansion on Esplanade

This particular property really makes me drool with incredible architectural details like high, curved ceilings, sliding pocket doors, double parlor, wainscoting, bead board ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, claw foot tubs, and I believe there’s also a guest room next to the garage in back. This house is on the Esplanade Ridge just on the other side of I-10 which drops the price down a smidgen to a piddly $1,097,000.

4. Queen Anne on Josephine 

This one kind of blows my mind considering it’s questionable location in Central City, but what do I care? I’m loaded, right? I can hire 24-hour security if I’m that paranoid. Located approximately two blocks from St. Charles Avenue, this awesome house has a huge front porch, high ceilings, hardwood floors, a truly incredible wooden staircase, rich wood-paneled wainscoting and trim, tall windows and doorways with transoms, several fireplaces, French doors, bead board ceilings and a magnificent renovated attic. With almost 5,000 square feet of living space, this house is steal at $899,000.
5. Creole Townhouse on Burgundy
Saving one of the best for last, this three story, historical head-turner offers it all… plus a little lagniappe. The transoms are more elaborate and artistic, all of the rooms seem to be decked out with chandeliers and towering ceilings, French doors abound from room to room and letting out onto the balconies — this place is a freaking dream. Built in the early 1800s, this home offers all of the historic detail I crave while allowing elements that are modern, yet elegant. Located in the French Quarter, this divine diva would only set me back a paltry $2,950,000 and it would be worth every penny.
*Just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. If I was a mega-billionaire, it’s likely I would buy ALL of these houses, not just one. Otherwise, what’s the point of being filthy rich?

**Please also note that these homes are all on the market right now. If had my choice of ANY house in New Orleans, this list would be quite different!

House of the week: Shotgun on Flood Street

Depression has set in and I can’t avoid it. Unless I suddenly write a bestselling novel, win the lotto or have a rich relative die and leave me a fat inheritance, there is no way in hell I’ll ever be able to afford a house in New Orleans.

Regardless of this fact, I still have this awful habit of continued self-flagellation, scanning the real estate listings only to watch another dream house go to someone who (I imagine) will appreciate it far less that I would. Jerks. During my latest bout of torment, I happened upon another awesome house that will likely be sold to some cretin who will use it as a vacation home or some such nonsense. Gee, do I sound bitter?

While the irony of fawning over a house on Flood Street in the Holy Cross (Lower 9th Ward) is not lost on me, it still fails to dampen my ardor (har-har). Here we have a two bedroom, two bathroom single shotgun house replete with original hardwood floors, towering bead board ceilings, transoms, fireplace mantles, claw foot tub and a nice front porch that faces the levee. Bye, bye beauty! You’re bound to disappear within days of my post, especially since you’re listed at the low, low price of only $200,000. Unfortunately, it’s still not low enough for me.  

House of the week: Fixer-upper on Banks Street

I always feel a little forlorn when I see a classic New Orleans home in a sad state of repair. Peeling paint, trailing ivy tearing up the siding, rusting wrought-iron … all signs that either the homeowner couldn’t afford to maintain the property or just didn’t care. Sometimes, like with this particular house, the environs are dotted with unfortunately-ugly retail establishments and empty lots. It’s depressing.

Recently listed, this house on Banks Street is not located in the best area. It’s really close to busy Broad Street in a neighborhood that has seen better days, but the house is quite beautiful no matter how dilapidated it has become. There’s excellent architectural details around the door, floor-to-ceiling windows, and sweet front porch. I bet the ceiling is at least 12 feet high and (hopefully) there are original hardwood floors inside. I really hope someone finds the time and the money to fix up this old beauty. I also hope they don’t renovate out all of it’s charm. It’s listed at $180,000 for almost 2,000 square feet. Here’s hoping there’s someone out there who will love it as much as it deserves…

House of the week: Cottage on Chestnut Street

Throughout my torture sessions over the past few years, there’s a trend I’m noticing that causes my heart to shudder. While I understand the desire for a new-built home, it makes me crazy when people buy an old house and renovate it so drastically, that they kill all its precious character. I mean, why live in a classic New Orleans house and then take all the New Orleans out of it?

For example, here is this incredibly expensive, one bedroom/one bath cottage on Chestnut Street. Notice the floor-to-ceiling windows and the lovely, columned porch that runs all the way to the front door. Well, that’s where the character ends. Inside there’s a sprawling kitchen and living room, replete with shining hardwood floors and glistening granite counters, but it looks nothing like a Nola abode anymore. No exposed brick, free-standing fireplace, intricate mouldings or ceiling medallions. The bathroom is shiny and new without a claw foot tub, wainscoting or intricate tiling that runs halfway up the walls.

It’s Crescent City character has been almost completely wiped out, yet because of these modifications and it’s excellent location Uptown, this 1,200 square foot house (with only one bedroom, mind!) is listed at $439,000! No way Mr. Man! Even if I did have the ducats, I ain’t buyin’ it!

House of the week: The disappointment on Arts Street

Last week, John and I were informed by our lender that the city of New Orleans had denied our application for the Soft Second Mortgage Program. We feel rubbed quite raw due to the reorganization of our financials, and similar to that sensation after losing your virginity, we’re sort of exposed and vulnerable, not to mention extremely disappointed. Most troubling of all, I can’t help feeling like that “flighty mistress” fate (or is it luck?) somehow had a hand in all of this.

Although I’m a dreamer and a fantasy buff through and through (you can’t shake the Mallorn leaves out of my hair), I’ve never subscribed to the idea of faith, any faith, except that which I still believe can be found in people. Regardless, I still don’t think I was meant to have this house.

For example, two days after John and I finished our home buying classes on June 23rd (which oddly reminded me of traffic school), we were told that the city wouldn’t be accepting any more applications for the Soft Second Program after July 30th. All of a sudden we were frantic. Though we’d searched the real estate listings online constantly, we never went to go look at houses because until the classes were over and we were pre-approved by the lender, we couldn’t make a bid. I don’t know if y’all have been watching the New Orleans real estate market, but it’s hot. Houses I adored online were disappearing overnight and there seemed no use in going to look if we couldn’t act almost immediately.

In less two days, I had a real estate agent, received the pre-approval and was assured we could make it before the deadline “no problem.” The only catch was, we had less than three days to pick a house. It all felt so damned rushed. We had a list of over 15 different properties and we quickly narrowed it down to 3.

Two of the houses were totally me, you know, what I blab about every single time I do one of these posts. They were both older homes, at least 80 or 90 years, one in the Lower Ninth Ward and one in the Carrollton/Hollygrove neighborhood. The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans had restored the one in the Lower Ninth Ward, a shotgun-style, two bedroom/one bath, that still sported the high ceilings, transoms, gorgeous hardwood floors, a cute front porch and an awesome master bedroom.

The other house, over in the Carrollton/Hollygrove area, was once a small, one bedroom shotgun that had an addition built on in front. Though from the outside, the house shape seems quite odd, on the inside, it’s a whole other story with a unique, octagonal (hexagonal?) front room/dining room that leads up a couple of steps to a nice, updated kitchen with an island/bar and there were awesome, dark hardwood floors throughout. Two bedrooms led off of the kitchen and were pretty much the same size and there was only one, albeit largish, bathroom. Aside from the unusual front room, the best feature of this house was the big backyard. Three gorgeous trees grew in the yard and the owner had salvaged bricks from somewhere (they were really old bricks!) and had begun a patio. As with the rest of the house’s renovations, the fence was brand new and offered more privacy than I ever expected find in the city.

Finally, there is the third house, the house on Arts Street. This house is nothing like any of the houses I have been talking about. This house is brand new construction with hardy plank siding and windows made to withstand 120 m.p.h. winds. This house was built above the “base flood line,” filled with Energy Star appliances, security system, washer & dryer, central air & hear and closed cell spray foam insulation. This house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and was built on a double-sized, corner lot. This was a Project Home Again house in Gentilly that had all the allure a new house brings.

We chose the Arts Street house. John wanted the Arts Street house, a majority of friends and family liked the Arts Street house, and part of me wanted that house, too. But there was a big part of me that did not want that house. A part that nagged all throughout the financial scrutiny, the inspections, the signing of purchase agreements and mortgage applications and the general jumping through hoops involved in the whole process. I’m embarassed to admit it, but I felt like I was selling out worse than when Metallica released the black album.

A good friend of mine argued that I was helping to reinvigorate a devastated community by moving to an area where others feared to tread. Her viewpoint made me more confident in my decision and an area that felt oh-so suburban (a.k.a. Gentilly) began to take on new life as I researched the history of the neighborhood and began plotting out driving routes to and from the gym, downtown, John’s work, etc. Still, something just felt… off.

In the end, we lost the house on Arts Street due to an accounting snafu. Although I know it’s not my fault, I partially blame myself for the blip that bounced us out of reach. We fell short $90 of being in the right bracket for the amount of grant money we’d been counting on, and though we still qualified for some money, it wasn’t enough for the house we bid on and it was too late to restart the process. We were finished and the Soft Second money was completely out of our reach.

Was it fate? Should I have selected one of the other houses I liked so much instead of being “reasonable?” Instead of selling out? Is my house still yet to come or perhaps, was I never meant to have a house at all? Who knows? One thing’s for sure, it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming, but I think I might need to take a break for a little while.

House of the week: Victorian on Dumaine Street

As I am currently existing in some kind of first-time home-buyer’s limbo (a.k.a. financial consultations, credit checks, home-buying courses, etc.), I’ve been reluctant to play out my usual “house of the week” game. Why? Because I keep finding homes in my price range that are almost exactly what I want, only to watch them slip right through my fingertips. Just like what will happen with this one…

About a block off Broad Street on Dumaine is a double-shotgun Victorian house built around the 1920’s. The owner’s side features three bedrooms and one bathroom and the rental side is two bedrooms and one bathroom for a total of almost 2000 square feet. It’s got all the goodies I love, on both sides. We’re talking fireplace mantles, floor-to-ceiling windows, transoms, sliding pocket doors and hardwood floors … plus a cute porch and a rather large backyard. The house is almost smack-dab between the Fair Grounds Race Course (read Jazzfest) and the French Quarter (read, well…it’s the freaking French Quarter already), the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Degas House, Pagoda Cafe, the Caribbean Club and Broadview Seafood (read “boiled crawfish”).  Also, a Whole Foods recently opened up on Broad Street not seven blocks away, in attempts to kick-start the neighborhood and offer a place for affordable, healthy food. 
There are lots and lots of reasons I can come up with about why this house is so cool, but the most glaring would have to be the price. This little beauty is listed for only $199,000 and it makes me want to cry. Wave buh-bye now…say buh-bye to the pretty little house because soon it will be gone.

House of the week: Cottage on Milan Street

One of the first things you come to realize when house hunting is that everyone’s got their own sense of style. Interior design, I believe, either wholly reflects the person or people living in that space, or it reflects absolutely nothing at all … like a furniture showroom at Pier 1 Imports. Perhaps it’s because I worked with an interior designer or perhaps it’s because I’ve been decorating my (yet to be acquired) house since I was 6 years old, but I’m endlessly fascinated by how people choose to decorate their world. 

Anyhow, while I was roaming through the listings, I happened upon this house near Claiborne and Napoleon. The neighborhood is nice and the beach cottage-style house sports a sweet little front and back porch, hardwood floors, French doors, granite counter tops and a neat back yard. The price is decent, listed at $145,000, and though it isn’t as old as I would like (built in the 70’s), it still has a lot of character. But, even though I am quite good at looking at the bare bones of a house, appreciating the architecture and imaging the space with my own style, it was pretty hard to get past this living room set. 
Is it just me or does it seem like Fifi Mahony’s blew up in there? 

House of the week: Villa on Three Rivers Road

Just for fun, I widened my search for homes into the Northshore (across Lake Pontchartrain for those not familiar) and lo and behold, I found this massive Italian villa. I had no idea that properties like this even existed in the whole of Louisiana! To me, a mansion of this stature is something you’d see featured in Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous located in a far off place like Monte Carlo or Milan. But no. This incredible property is located right across the lake in Covington.

Sitting pretty on over 18 acres of “flawlessly maintained grounds” is this 5 bedroom, 7 bathroom home with over 7,500 square feet of living space, wine cellar, a butler’s pantry, workshop and a walk-in closet that’s larger than my entire apartment. The grounds include a huge swimming pool, fountains, cabana, guest house, tennis court, greenhouse and a “picturesque tree house on small island.” By the way, the property is located in view of the Tchefuncte, Abita and Bogue Falaya Rivers so naturally it also includes a boat launch. All you need to own this beauty is a trifling $7, 500, 000, so save your ducats. Until then…champagne wishes and caviar dreams!

House of the week: Double shotgun on Annunciation Street

Ever since I moved here, I’ve dreamed of living in and/or owning a double shotgun house. Why a double? I knew that it could be a good investment, the tenant would be paying the majority of my mortgage and well, they just look cool. Plus, I’ve seen owners remodel their doubles into singles and the results are most often stunning. I am thinking in particular of one house my friend Shalom used to live in that the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans transformed in the Holy Cross. It was gorgeous! There were four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen, laundry room and family room plus a massive backyard. I think they paid around $110,000 and even after Katrina, this lovely house is still standing. The new owners added wrought iron railing around the front porch and steps, too.

So, since I am now more seriously considering buying a home, I can’t help but eye the doubles even though the price might be twice what I can afford. For example, I found this awesome Victorian shotgun double on Annunciation Street and simply fell in love. Each side is decorated a bit differently (especially the kitchens), but each unit had two bedrooms and one bathroom, original hardwood floors, high ceilings, exposed brick fireplaces, transoms, claw foot tubs, floor-to-ceiling windows and even a nice, big backyard with a pagoda in the corner. This house is so damn cute and so perfect for me, it hurts! It’s only three blocks from Magazine Street and restaurants like Lilette and Baru Bistro & Tapas, and only 7 blocks from the parade route and Tipitina’s! It’s listed at a mere $320,000 and with a 5% down payment, it would set us back about $1600 per month and more than half of that would be covered by a tenant. What do you think? Would you take the risk?