fat Tuesday

This February 12 is not only Abe Lincoln’s birthday, but the day before Lent, i.e. Mardi Gras! And as Mr. M is from Louisiana, we get into the spirit every year, even if we can’t be in town for the festivities.  This year, we’re co-hosting a Mardi Gras fête with one of our wonderful neighbors.  On the menu: muffaletas, gumbo (which is not actually a Mardi Gras dish, as my hubby likes to point out), and of course king cake.

But this is a blog about vintage interiors, right?  So, to both honor Mardi Gras and stay on task, I figured I’d do a little post on some of my favorite Louisiana inspirations.

The store: Dunn & Sonnier, in New Orleans’ Garden District, is probably my favorite spot in the city for furniture and decorative items.  Tucked next to its flower shop of the same name, this store is just filled with beautiful antique French furniture, elegantly rustic garden items, and hard-to-find fixtures.  Our first time there, we spotted an oak wine tasting table, along with a set of cane chairs.  We thought it would make the perfect dining set, but the shipping costs (this was when gas was high for US standards and we would’ve needed to contract with a separate delivery company) were very high, which made us pause.  We flew back home and then decided to go for it, but — alas — I called and learned that they were gone.  We’re still kicking ourselves. To learn more check out: http://www.dunnandsonnierantiques.com.

The architect: Any discussion of Louisiana architecture must include a discussion of Louisiana Creole architecture which must include a discussion of architect and Baton Rouge native, A. Hays Town (1903-2005). During his long career, Hays became known as a master of the Creole style, blending Louisiana’s rich French, Spanish and American roots. He was particularly known for Acadian (or Cajun) style raised porches, French doors with full length shutters, and Spanish courtyards — elements that we, today, simply think of as “Louisianan.” I look at his work and just dream. To learn more check out: The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town, by Cyril E. Vetter and Philip Gould.

The neighborhood: New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood is often overlooked – perhaps because it’s in the Ninth Ward, one of the areas hit hardest by Katrina.  Anyone coming to the city that skips this neighborhood, though, is really missing out.  Bywater, east of the French Quarter (just on the other side of Faubourg Marigny), holds an “only in Louisiana” mix of bon vivants, shotgun houses, and dives. With so many influences, it would be impossible to explore this neighborhood and not be inspired. One of my favorite spots here is a little place called Bacchanal.  You can buy wine and cheese to go, but a better bet is to order some food from the grill out back, grab a seat in the courtyard, and listen to whoever is playing that night (hopefully Kermit Ruffins).  That’s what we did last time we where there (sans Kermit, though), and it was one of the best times I ever had. To learn more check out: http://www.bacchanalwine.com.

Happy Mardi Gras!


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