It was barely a year ago that Maddie and David Jorgensen were handed the keys to their French Quarter shotgun.
Since then they have painted and wired, plumbed and roofed. They have replaced all the major appliances, upgraded the efficiency of the cooling system and installed special LED accent lighting in the kitchen and living area.
At long last, they are ready to open their doors to the public at the Patio Planters home tour Sunday, Dec. 21, a prelude to the big caroling event in Jackson Square.
“We’re ready for the tour, but that doesn’t mean we are done,” said David. “We want to renovate the master bath and refinish the floors and a thousand other things that only the homeowner would notice.”
The couple bought the 19th-century house after owning a smaller place on Burgundy Street for a number of years. Maddie is retired, but David still works and commutes each week to his job in Jacksonville, Florida, where the couple owns a home on the St. Johns River.
“We call this our second home, but we divide time pretty evenly between the two cities,” said Maddie. “We usually are based here from October through May, then in Jacksonville.”
Over the two decades or more that the couple has lived part-time in New Orleans, they have immersed themselves in the city, especially in the life of the French Quarter.
“We’re active in Patio Planters and a number of other groups,” Maddie sad. “We’ve made a lot of friends here, and it seems as though there is always an event going on.”
David has established a tradition of beginning the day with a walk from the St. Ann Street house to Armstrong Park, where he says he likes to “smell the roses,” referring the dozens of antique roses that beautify the park.
Although the fragrance of the roses is a draw, the main impetus for the long walk is Danny, the couple’s 4-year-old black cocker spaniel. Danny sticks close to David when he is in town, and snuggles up with Maddie when he isn’t.
The bedroom is situated toward the rear of the house and opens to the rear courtyard via three pairs of glass French doors. Surrounded on two sides by tall masonry walls, the courtyard is also accessible from David’s office, which is housed in a side addition to the original shotgun house.
“I told Maddie when she said she wanted to look for a bigger place that there had to be space for my office and there had to be off-street parking,” David said. “We were very glad to find a place that had both.”
Courtyard walls are covered with climbing fig, which softens their look and helps absorb sound.
“We’re just a couple of blocks from Bourbon Street, but you wouldn’t know it sitting in the courtyard — it’s so quiet,” Maddie said.
The main entry to the house is via glass French doors that open to the entry court on St. Ann, where the coveted parking spot is located. It’s a tiny space, elegantly detailed with a wall fountain to dress it up.
“I made sure the car would fit before we bought the house,” David said. “I actually measured it.”
It might be logical to expect that a single shotgun would look and feel quite narrow, but not so the Jorgensen home. A vaulted ceiling, exposed beams and a mirrored wall in the dining room confound expectations. Likewise, mirrored backsplashes in the kitchen contribute to the illusion that the space is bigger than it is.
Although the home feels spacious, Maddie has had to devise solutions to the dilemma of how to pursue her new favorite pasttime: decorating shoes for the Muses parade.
“I had been on the waiting list for a few years, and finally I got the call that I could ride this year,” she said. “That means decorating lots of shoes.”
Instead of storing her creations out of sight, she has added them to the festive holiday decor inside the home.
Across from the Christmas tree and fireplace, an entire console is occupied by glittered, jeweled pumps in a dizzying array of colors.
A corner shelf in David’s office displays five or six of the completed art works. Below it is a set of drawers on wheels that contains many of the materials Maddie uses when she is at work on shoes.
“Because there is never enough storage, the cart on wheels is my solution to keeping things organized and also out of the way. When David is out of town, I wheel it out and get to work. It’s small but it works for me,” she said, “I know one Muse whose entire garage is devoted to shoe decorating!”