Pulling the Trigger

They moved from Metairie to Uptown to experience a shotgun house

A portrait of Charlotte Carter Smith, Lesley’s mother, has a place of honor over the fireplace; the antique French farm table is from Wirthmore Antiques and the chairs came from Sixpence Antiques.


Shotgun houses are the core of the architectural treasures in New Orleans. Imagine an 850-square-foot gem of a shotgun house on a quiet Uptown street, just two blocks from Magazine Street. Then think about leaving behind a 3,800-square-foot home in fashionable Old Metairie for something as different as this tiny single shotgun. Meet Lesley and Charles “Charlie” Marshall, who think they made a great decision when they downsized for a totally different lifestyle.

“The beautiful makeover Lesley gave to our new house made our move a good decision,” says Charlie, a lawyer with Milling Benson Woodward LLP. “Getting away from the upkeep of our former house and being so close to our New Orleans grandchildren created a pleasant new way of life for us.” (The couple also has three grandchildren in Jackson, Mississippi.)
The pristine white shotgun with pink Cecile Brunner climbing roses on the fence gives an immediate impression. “We liked everything about the house the very first time we saw it,” Lesley, a therapist in private practice, says. “The high ceiling, the old wide-board wood floors, the light that comes in the big windows and the open fireplace are all charming, but most of all, we’re within five blocks of six of our grandchildren.”

When the couple purchased the home it was 805-square-feet. “We called in architect Bob Bodet who had the creative ideas of making the old kitchen a walk-in closet and adding a new 150-square-foot galley kitchen on the side of the house, “ she says. “Then we brought in Randy Shaw of Nordic Kitchen who helped us obtain the finishing touches for our dream kitchen – high-end stainless steel appliances, including a Jenn-air gas stove and a microwave drawer, Caesarstone countertop – and he even found the perfect old boards for our wood floors. We loved his recommendation of including Travertine countertops and a porcelain tile floor in the bathroom.”

The carefully designed interior, awash in neutral tones, makes the three main rooms – living, dining and bedroom – seem more spacious. “I loved working with decorator Alix Rico,” Lesley continues. “She helped me so much in making decisions as to what furniture to keep, and she definitely understood that I needed fabric that was attractive, but could withstand my grandchildren. The result was that many of my fabrics are indoor-outdoor and washable.” In the end the couple was able to incorporate a number of their favorite French and English antiques, with Rico finding just the right pair of new chandeliers for the living and dining room.

An important part of the success of the custom 1,000-square-foot home they ended up with was the creative deck that was added to the side of their house by Joel Lindstrum, their contractor. Lesley adds, “Louis Guevara did a great job helping us with the landscaping and selection of plants for the deck. The deck creates a comfortable outdoor ‘room’ that we love.”

“After 40 years in old Metairie, where we raised our four children and made wonderful friends, moving Uptown feels like being in a new city, and sometimes we feel like we are on vacation,” Lesley says. “We are in a walkable part of town and we enjoy walking our grandchildren to Creole Creamery, Yogurt Land and the taco truck, and sometimes catching lizards on the way.”

Then there’s always the couple’s weekend home on the beach in Bay St. Louis, with plenty of sleeping room for the grandchildren, where they retreat on weekends for large family gatherings.

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