Camilla Pugh originally thought she would make her Spanish Town home “cute and funky.”
“It turned out to be prettier,” Pugh said. “It kept telling me, ‘I’m prettier than you think.’”
She and her late husband, Gordon Pugh, were very interested in living in the downtown area. After his death, she kept looking but never could find exactly what she wanted.
Within two days of seeing the house Realtor Darryl Gissel told her “might be for sale,” she knew she had her home. “What got me was the openness when I walked in,” Pugh said.
The sellers had done most of the exterior work, including adding a swimming pool and courtyard with landscaping, but had tired of the interior restoration of the 100-year-old cottage.
Pugh made some construction changes, like enclosing part of her bedroom to make a closet, redoing the kitchen and bathrooms, and creating a small guest loft. She also reconfigured the rooms.
An accomplished organist and pianist, Pugh needed a place for her piano, so she made the original living room her music room and the dining room her living room.
Between the two rooms was an old floor furnace, which Pugh removed. Rather than patch the hole in the hardwood floor left by the furnace, she boxed in the hole and used wooden figures to create a miniature scene of Paris, which she covered with glass under the original furnace screen.
The home had three bedrooms on the south side of the house. Pugh made the front bedroom a small library. The middle room is her bedroom. The back bedroom had been used as a sunroom, so Pugh kept the sunroom concept but also made the room her dining room.
“It is right off the kitchen. It works just fine,” she said.
One of the most interesting transitions in the kitchen, which Pugh completely redid in its same space minus a few feet she used to make a stairway to the small loft she built in the attic.
“There was hardly any kitchen there,” said Pugh, who ordered a complete Ikea kitchen. “They shipped the whole thing from Houston.”
She topped the shiny grey cabinets with marble and used antique tiles from the Loire Valley for her backsplash.
The loft is just large enough for a bedroom, a small sitting area and a bathroom.
One of the great challenges of the redo was what to do about the woodwork.
In the living room area of the home, it was stained very dark. In the back, the woodwork was light.
“I don’t know how my painter did it,” said Pugh, who decided to be consistent with dark woodwork throughout the home. “He took old and new, stained and painted and matched it.”
The original owners had enclosed the courtyard and pool with an attractive fence banked with white oleanders. Pugh wanted a water feature more than she wanted a swimming pool, so she had two-thirds of the pool removed, filled the area and planted it with grass. What was left of the swimming pool became a reflecting pool.
She also removed the walls of an old tool shed to make an attractive covered area in a back corner of the courtyard.
The home is filled with art collected for decades by the Pughs, including a series of Marcus McAllister paintings hung together in the master bedroom. Over the mantel in the living room is a 19th-century copy of a tapestry in the Cluny Museum in Paris.
“It was wonderful to stumble on that and have the lady in the tapestry playing the organ,” she said.
Pugh is the substitute organist at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. For fun, she is studying Classical Greek at LSU.
“I am revisiting all these plays and epics and classics I haven’t read in years,” she said.
Pugh loves the small size of the home and its eclectic neighborhood.
“I felt like I didn’t have to take it too seriously. I had fun with it,” she said. “It’s just the right size for me. I can feel the edges.”