The House in Her Head
I'm on a deadline for work this week but found myself staying up late last night to finish Julia Reed's The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story. It's really about home, not a house. What happens to her green silk Chinese Chippendale sofa becomes irrelevant.
Reed calls her earlier French Quarter digs (shown here above) a stage set: a place for having fun. The house on First Street is also the site of great times -- better times -- but it's about growing up and getting involved. Of course the ride includes plenty of mouth-watering food and good laughs.
Keeping in mind that the focus of the book isn't decorating, (although looming large is her turbulent renovation of a lovely 19th century Greek Revival house with amazing Greek key windows) here is a passage I think many of you will relate to:
"I'd been preparing for owning some house, somewhere, sometime, for so long that I'd saved every World of Interiors and House & Garden magazine since I was twenty, moving them in increasingly battered boxes from apartment to apartment, city to city. I'd been carrying around a swatch of Bennison's "Crewelwork" linen like a talisman for almost fifteen years; I was well versed in the subtle differences between Farrow & Ball's "Straw," "String," and "Matchstick" paint colors. More than a year before we laid eyes on the house, I had bought (on the layaway plan at a local antique store) the parcel gilt bamboo Regency benches I knew would go in the front parlor. As a child, I never cared a whit about Barbie, it was her dream house I was obsessed with. Now I had my own."
--Julia Reed, The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story, Harper Collins, 2008
Photos two through four, Francois Hallard, Vogue, February 2001