Sixty years, 200 exhibitors, a dozen cooking demos, hundreds of thousands of square feet of products — the numbers for the 2015 New Orleans Home & Garden Show are staggering.
To celebrate six decades of successful and inventive exhibitions, the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans is pulling out all the stops to fill the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to overflowing for three days, beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday.
Want to see chefs from eateries including Zea, Del Fuego, Copeland’s and Dicky Brennan’s Steakhouse in action? Visit the “Outdoor Cooking Experience.”
Curious about how a shipping container can transform into a stylish guest house, a rugged fishing camp or a fun children’s playhouse? Head to the “Container Village.”
Interested in potted pants, saving energy or smart ways to renovate? Daily seminars will fill your bill.
For the first time, Home Builders has added a fundraising component by introducing a silent auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity. But don’t expert to bid on palettes of glossy new tile or LED lighting or sleek chrome faucets. Instead, the “Upcycle, Recycle, New Cycle” challenge engaged designers to transform cast offs from the Habitat ReStore, 2900 Elysian Fields Ave., into irresistible home furnishings and accessories. Several dozen items will be on the silent auction block starting at noon on Friday, with smaller items closing throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. Bidding on larger items won’t end until Sunday at 4 p.m.
Several of the designers explained the creative and technical process they employed to create their auction items and what made the challenge important to them.
Maria Barcelona, of Maria Barcelona Interiors, with collaborator Paul Dodson
Barcelona and Dodson had been looking around the Habitat ReStore for some time when Dodson spotted a Chinoiserie china cabinet of faux bamboo tucked away in a corner.
“We went in thinking we would probably do something with lighting — find an interesting fixture, paint it, and add light, but then we realized it wouldn’t show as well as a piece of furniture,” Barcelona said. “When Paul found the cabinet, we picked it right away because it had great bones and would be a lot of fun to work with.”
When the pair ran across a roll of leopard print wallpaper a few minutes later, Barcelona says they knew just what to do.
“We figured we’d paper the inside of the cabinet with it and paint the outside one of the colors in the leopard pattern,” she said. “Then we would use a darker color from the paper to highlight the rings of the bamboo.”
The only repair the cabinet needed was to the light inside, a task she knew her brother-in-law — “My fix-it guru” — could handle.
Having worked together for 16 years, Barcelona and Dodson have transformed many a dowdy piece of furniture into the focal point of a stylish renovation.
“We tend to be a little fearless, and so we’re lucky that our clients trust us,” she said. “Otherwise, we’d never convince someone to paint a priceless antique orange and change out the knobs.”
The recent visit to the Habitat ReStore was Barcelona’s first, but won’t be her last.
“They have great things,” she said. “If you’re someone who frequents thrift sores and garage sales, put it on the list.”
Alex Geriner, of Doorman Designs
It all started with the headboard Geriner made for the bed in his Carrollton-Riverbend apartment.
“I didn’t have the money to buy a lot of furniture because I was right out of school at Southern Miss,” Geriner said. “So I took a door and made a headboard out of it and a friend liked it, so I made one for her. Then I wondered if the headboards might be something I could sell online.”
That was just four years ago, and Geriner has been making furniture full-time for the past two. He relies exclusively on salvaged materials — especially old-growth woods — that he sources throughout the Southeast.
Although furniture making may not be a typical career for a journalism and communications major, it makes sense, considering Geriner’s upbringing in Slidell.
“My father is a genius with woodworking, and my mother is in interior design,” he said. “I was an only child, so I spent a lot of time tinkering with things and making stuff. Now, when I have a technical problem, I call my dad, and when it’s a matter of proportion or detail, I ask my mom.”
For the auction, Geriner chose to work with materials outside of his comfort zone.
“I found these terra cotta roof tiles at the Habitat store and liked the way they had weathered black on the outside,” he said. “I made a fairly simple table by wiring them together and topping them with glass.”
The surprise comes from looking down at the table and seeing the silver metallic paint Geriner applied to the interior of the tiles.
“The roughness of the weathered tiles reminded me of pumice stone, so I let a little of the silver paint trickle down the outside a little like lava,” he said.
An artist, portraitist and mural maker, Tracy Wisehart-Plaisance couldn’t resist loading up a trailer full of items from the Habitat ReStore to transform in her Larose workshop.
“In all, it’s three upholstered chairs with side tables, a dinette set with four rattan back chairs and a metal glider from the 1940s,” she said. “I just love what I do, so I did a lot of it.”
Wisehart-Plaisance says she found that the upholstered chairs at the ReStore each had a slightly different personality and that their differences are what inspired the designs she painted on their seat and back cushions. A streetcar on the avenue, a townhouse and a front door are all rendered in vivid colors on the fabric covering the chairs. The palettes relate to whatever color Wisehart-Plaisance chose to paint the wood or metal frames of the chairs.
“I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, and anyone can do it,” said the artist, who will teach three seminars — one each day — on her process at the Home Show next weekend. “It’s a great product because you don’t have to prime what you paint before you paint it, and it gives wood an instant distressed look.”
When the paint has dried, Wisehart-Plaisance rubs on two shades of wax to create a glowing finish.
“I want the pieces to attract a lot of bids so they help out Habitat, but I also want to inspire people to take on do-it-yourself projects,” she said. “If someone is thinking about throwing out a piece of furniture, I want them to think about how they could transform it instead.”
R. Stephanie Bruno writes about homes and gardens. Contact her at email@example.com.