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Monday, May 18, 2020

Color My World with Painted Ladies

NOLA’s shotgun houses inspire Highland home.

Shreveport is fortunate to still have such a large historic neighborhood with hundreds of preserved homes sheltering new generations of families. Many of those homes in the Highland neighborhood are celebrating their 100th birthdays. They are labors of love that call out to some of us who crave artisan architecture and affordable house notes.

We love our c. 1920 cottage just off Line Avenue, sitting on cypress piers and sporting its original wood siding. It’s not your average arts & craft or Sears mailorder kit but instead looks like it was plucked from a New Orleans neighborhood just off Canal Street and set upon our lot. Our onestory is part double shotgun, part European townhome. The scale of every bit of it is just delicious, from its small spaces with tall ceilings to the two extra sunrooms at the front and back of the house. It has too few closets, but oh, those inlaid hardwood floors. Of course, our home’s crowning glory is the deep front porch with two sets of French doors that open into a wide living room spanning the width of the house.

It was only natural when choosing paint colors that we turned to NOLA’s painted ladies, row after row of shotgun houses, for our inspiration. If you have never visited the French Quarter, you must Google “NOLA shotgun houses” right this minute.

Prepare to be breathless as a prism of vivid color materializes before your eyes. Many of the homes have more than a dozen hues brilliantly woven through all the wonderful old doors, shutters and gingerbread trim.

I don’t know why periwinkle called my name from the very beginning. I don’t really wear or decorate with that color. In fact, friends warned us against “a purple house,” but we settled on a periwinkle blue/purple the color of a men’s oxford button-down shirt for the main exterior (Benjamin Moore’s “Victorian Trim” #2068-50). We started with the porch walls and painted the trim stark white to see how we liked it. And that’s when the fun began. It transformed our faded yellow house in ways we couldn’t imagine. Painting old houses deep, bright colors makes them look old and new at the same time.

The house painting project gave us something to research and think about during the dog days of COVID-19. What accent colors should we use? Vivid fern green? Bright dark lemon yellow? Pink like the French heirloom roses climbing up the side of the porch?

We still don’t have all the answers.

We chose a French blue for the front door that reminded us of an alpine color scheme from “The Sound of Music.” But the pink in the running for the porch floor seems pure Victorian. A friend is trying to get me to paint the porch ceiling a bright coral pink to create a glow across the porch, even on cloudy days. Neighbors walking by smile and call out, “Love the color!” Even friends on the Historic Highland Neighborhood Facebook page have also been offering their opinions. It’s like this Highland home belongs to everyone.

Periwinkle has stolen my heart now. I even grabbed the leftover samples on Mother’s Day and painted some eyesore tables to preserve them for porch living. The delight that color brings me when I walk up the steps or sip iced tea on the porch is better than money.

We’re not finished painting the entire house yet, but the process is where the joy is – not to mention the community who has embraced it. I dream of these NOLA-colored cottages catching on in our Historic Highland Neighborhood – rows of painted ladies calling out to people walking by – a beacon for preservation and community.


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