I may be the most fortunate of journalists, for my year-end review has nothing to do with crime stats, charter school applications or Sewerage & Water Board woes. Instead, it’s my pleasure and privilege to review the stories of all the New Orleans metro area residents who invited us into their homes and shared a glimpse of their lifestyles with us.

As it always is and ever shall be, the French Quarter — a national landmark — is a neighborhood we visited at least a half dozen times. Corky Willhite opened the doors to his meticulously restored 1827 Creole cottage in February. Willhite relied on a watercolor from the notarial archives for the Vieux Carré Commission's OK to remove the Victorian gewgaws from the exterior and restore the facade to its original appearance. Patrick Dunne of Lucullus served as color and furnishings consultant for the project.

Easter parades abound in the Vieux Carré, and one them passes by realtor Jane Krug’s second floor balcony. Sounds like a good excuse for a party, so Krug seizes the day and hosts one every year.

Other Vieux Carré residents put their homes on tour to benefit nonprofits. Among them in 2018 was Peter Patout, who lives in one half of a double shotgun. How does he manage to stuff so much art, so many books, so many antique furnishings in so modest a space?

We met Ely and Daniela Khoury, who hosted a swank fundraiser for the Vieux Carré Commission Foundation at their compound, which consists of a townhouse and creole cottage connected by a glass bridge.

To finish the year off in grand style, we visited the Ursulines Avenue home and studio of writers/artists Dalt Wonk and Josephine Sacabo.  Their exquisite home calls forth memories of old Europe and suggests how French Quarter buildings may have been furnished in the 1800s.

Just down Esplanade Avenue from the French Quarter, the home of Pearce Williams and Heath Albritton made a lasting impression with its vibrant color scheme and clever connection to the side yard. Not far away, in the Saint Roch neighborhood, well known photographer Richard Sexton built a sleek contemporary house that can serve as a model for others looking to build affordably and stylishly.

Sidney Torres continued his reign as the city’s most (in)famous renovator with the second season of his TV show, "The Deed." One of the houses he worked on, a cottage in Bywater, was a partnership with Preston Tedesco, a 20-something with whom Torres plans to do more projects. Stay tuned.

In Faubourg Marigny, artist Gretchen Weller Howard  took a renovated centerhall and personalized it with color, wallpaper (from Spruce on Magazine), new light fixtures, old family portraits and her own enormous canvases, thereby creating a tribute to her family’s artistic traditions (both of her parents were artists).

Two homes in the  Lower 9th Ward embody the spirit of resilience that has taken root and now flourishes there. One is occupied by Shannon French, his wife Delaney, and their son Kepler. It’s a contemporary house that incorporates superior environmental technology (the Entergy bill hovers around $24 a month). 

Upriver of the Quarter, two Lower Garden District homeowners presented very different takes on what it means to live in a mid-19th-century home. Shmuela and Ira Padnos  have outfitted their townhouse on Camp Place art (much of it generated by Shmuela), plus Italian and French antiques purchased from Maria Hardeveld’s Antiques on Magazine (paradoxically, the shop in on Jackson Avenue in a former Popeyes stand). There’s a reason it’s called Palazzo Shmuela.

On Race Street, Sue and Ronnie Mizell  restored a down-at-the-heels beauty (the heavens were visible from the first floor in at least one location) and turned it back into a magnificent family home. Intent upon preserving the entry hall and parlors, they nonetheless found a way to make sure that Sue got the sleek, contemporary European kitchen she always wanted.

Uptown on Cadiz Street, Larry Mead and Melissa Toler have turned their home into a showplace with a garden to match. Originally a single-story L-shaped shotgun, it was elevated by architect William Sonner, then brought full circle by the couple, who inserted steel and glass walls downstairs. The house glows like a lantern at night.

You could not read a magazine or talk about houses with hearing the term “Mid Century Modern” in 2018. And although several homes we visited had MiMo furnishings, none was as perfect a time capsule as the Lake Vista home of Merritt and Monte Shalett.

And although it was never a home, Gallier Hall — a gem in the city’s architectural crown — made a big comeback, thanks to Cheryl Landrieu and the Tricentennial Committee. Using private funds, Landrieu oversaw the interior restoration of the building, right down to the portraits of the mayors, confirming that the building is just “too important to lose.”

To which I say “tru dat.” Happy New Year!