Our building project…

I actually did not fall off the planet, though it felt like it at times. I’d volunteered to host a party for the RT Convention when it came to New Orleans, and as the weeks counted down, I realized I’d been absolutely insane to think I could get the to-do list done in time. We had to wait for permits from the historic committee for so many things that everything got pushed back and back and back to the point where we knew we weren’t even going to come close to getting the upstairs done in time. I’m a contractor. I’m used to factoring in delays and craziness. Sometime in January, we punted, and changed the plan to have the party down in the bottom of the building (the future commercial space), because (a) it would fit everyone and the food and seating and (b) it was the space I could light the best, and air condition the best for the party. Temperatures in New Orleans, in May, can be horrendous… and with added humidity, a crowd of 150 in one room, and there was the potential for misery. Not exactly the formal for a great party. By moving everything downstairs, we only had one room to a/c and light. Still, lots of things did get done, due to my husband’s herculean efforts. Nowhere near what we’d hoped, but the party turned out great, and I think everyone had a wonderful time. I’m tremendously relieved.

When I last blogged about the colors of the building over on Facebook and Reinventing Fabulous, I tossed out color combinations for everyone to vote on, and that proved to be super helpful. I ended up going with… … the green options. Here’s the color palette: paint samples


I had to create a legend for the building, indicating where each of the colors were to go, and the immediate response from the historic committee was, “We love them… but we’re confused. What’s it going to look like?” “A painted building,” wasn’t exactly the response they were looking for. My architect told me that I could simply (ha ha ha) paint the colors on the building itself to demonstrate how it would look. I could understand their confusion (reluctantly)… the image I gave them looked like one of those old paint-by-numbers boards–where you really couldn’t fathom what the outcome would look like unless you had a completed one to reference. Here it is:



Neat Document-


We added that third floor you see on there, and the gazebo that’s drawn is now a bigger front porch instead, which I love beyond reason. We will have a terrace in front of that porch, and the staircase to the upper deck is now in a different place (much better), but I don’t have a final drawing yet of all the changes. The doors on the bottom left and right are still in the process of being built, and the center doors need repair. I was at a point where I could get the painter at a serious discount if I had him one week a few weeks ago… and if I didn’t say yes, I’d lose out and not be able to get him back until July (and his price would go up). So I painted the colors on the top of the building, on what’s called the “monitor” — a raised type of skylight that they built 100+ years ago to get light down into the building. This was a barn, before it was anything else, and they had hay in there–they didn’t want flames or any fire hazards (especially with New Orleans’ fire history), so the monitors let in a tremendous amount of light. We had not finished trimming out or prepping the wood for the monitor, but I spent one whole Saturday painting the colors on one section of it to give them an indication of how it would look.

Here’s what I painted:


monitor sample


The point here was to show the combination of colors, and they declared they still didn’t understand. My architect told me to just “paint the colors on the building” — like giant swatches, so I did this:


samples on parapet


It’s difficult to tell from this photo, but that pinkish building is a building across the street that’s also in the process of being remodeled. The colors I’ve painted here are on the back-side of the parapet of the roof… Anyway, the committee looked at this and then scratched its collective heads, and bemoaned that they still weren’t sure what the building was going to look like, and wanted me to paint a giant section of the front of the building so I could show them what every piece of molding looked like. [Imagine Toni’s head going explodey.] After I frothed at the mouth and ranted to my husband and architect that that was a giant expense for no historical reason, they told me I just had to play the game. The issue here was no longer “are these colors acceptable” but, instead, fell under the “personal preferences of the committee people who have no more experience than I do” umbrella. I wasn’t about to lose the painter, and since I couldn’t exactly paint a giant swatch on a two-story building (the third floor isn’t ready to be painted yet), I asked him to paint one section and I would call for an inspection. Meanwhile, he could keep painting, and if they had an issue, I’d deal with it later.

I called for the inspection after the first swatch was done. I called that day, and the next, and the next, and they never came–they kept giving me excuse after excuse. When they did finally come, the whole building (sans the doors which weren’t built yet) was painted. I pointed out to them that the windows were in the process of being repaired (with 100 year old glass) and would have to be re-glazed and the paint touched up (and the windows cleaned) and the doors installed and painted, and they came back and said, “You don’t have a permit, and we want to change some of the colors.” Most specifically, they want the white lettering to be the lighter green, because they “stand out” too much. (This is not a historic issue, because historically, the buildings would paint their lettering a stark contrasting color in order to stand out. This is a personal preference and, essentially, a way to punish me for not waiting around on Their Holinesses to get their committee selves over there.)

Here’s the building painted… keep in mind the window / repair issue, and the door installation / repair of center door issue, but here’s how the building looks now:



building 1 painting progress building 2 progress photo building 3 progress photo building 4 progress photos


Previously, it was a hideous peach/tan (kinda the color of the building on the street opposite it in the fourth photo above). Like so:


front of building-3


I ended up having very long conversation with the director of the committee, who, in spite of wanting to be very hard-hitting, ended up being nice. I may possibly have persuaded him to leave the colors alone, but I still have to go in front of the committee on June 10th to argue my case and try not to kill anyone in the process. This may be difficult. I’m already ready to concede one point — on the doors, the interior portions should have been medium green instead of the dark, and that was my mistake in labeling… and the committee wants it lighter, so I can “give” them that one and hope it’s enough of a concession that they don’t make me change a bunch of stuff that would require the painter to come back out and climb onto the man-lift again.

Since these photos were taken, though, we’ve repaired the windows (yay) — they still have to be cleaned and the paint touched up, but they’re re-glazed. On the bottom right, the doors have been built (big metal doors that will swing inward for a garage opening), and will be clad in wood this week to look like the center doors. The door on the left that is currently glass will likely stay glass until we get to the phase of the job where we’re doing that commercial area. They will eventually match the garage doors in appearance, but instead of being two giant doors that swing inward, they will be “bi-fold” doors that fold back against the sides… and there will be a small vestibule behind them, with glass doors that enter the commercial area. We had to build them like that because to open inward like the garage doors ate up too much commercial space, and to open outward over the sidewalk would mean I had to “rent” the sidewalk and also pay for “air space” in the Quarter. Seriously.

So, the adventure continues. I think we’ll have enough done over the next few months that I can do more before/afters.

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13 thoughts on “Our building project…”

  1. Love-love-LOVE the color combo. And there’s nothing worse than a bunch of petty bureaucrats…well…except for a bunch of volunteer petty bureaucrats. Hang in there, darlin’! I would say channel your inner Bobbie Faye but no matter how idiotic those folks are, they don’t deserve a full helping of her. πŸ˜‰

  2. The green looks great! I lovef seeing pics from RT party on Facebook, I thought the inside of the building looked really great. Your photos on the walls were the best part. πŸ™‚

  3. Whether they know it, they don’t really want to experience ‘Toni’s head going explodey’ and everyone would be endlessly happier if that didn’t occur. Maybe another party for the View Carre committee might be in order.

  4. Looks amazing, Toni!! I’ve not had an opportunity to catch up on your blog, but know all too well the dedication needed through this project. This is the old Jackson Brewery building? I didn’t realize that….fantastic! Like I said, haven’t had an opportunity to follow πŸ™ Keep up the good work!! Can’t wait to visit it in person.

  5. Dawn, it’s the warehouse for the Brewery. (We’re 1/2 block from the Brewery.) And thanks! I’d love for you to see it when you’re in town.

  6. Love the beautiful colors. Great job with that and for also not going ballistic on the “committee”! Though it sounds as if they deserved it. Hopefully I will be able to get down there soon and see it in person

  7. Oh, Toni, it’s gorgeous! I really love the color combo, and I think the white lettering looks great! Hope the council stop dicking around. And I loved the way you decorated the downstairs for the RT party. Very urban chic. I can’t wait to see more photos over the next year to see how the building comes to life.

  8. The pen and ink of the building – your paint by number sketch – is gorgeous. Love the green – and had to laugh over your descriptions of the committee. Reminds me of the historic preservation dance in Charleston.

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