4111 Dauphine Street, NOLA 70117

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4111 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA 70117

2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms

1,514 sqft living area

28′ X 127′ lot

$399,000

This side hall shotgun home in the Bywater neighborhood has been lovingly renovated in the last 5 years with an architect’s eye and design sense. The final product is one that honors the building’s 140 plus year old history as well as offers the comforts and conveniences of modern living. The front parlor has traditional floor-to-ceiling windows that let in streams of sunlight. The long hallways guides you past the private bedrooms to the back of the house, where there is one open space incorporating the kitchen, dining, and living areas. The kitchen was recently remodeled with on-trend gray cabinetry, durable Quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances. The open shelving and hanging pot rack means all of your kitchen essentials are within easy reach. From the dining area, glass doors open out to an expansive deck and back yard — basically an extension of the living area meant for gathering and entertaining.

Since the current owners purchase the property in 2013, they have reworked and updated all of the major systems of the house. The work includes strengthening the foundation, replacing the electrical panel and much of the plumbing, installing a new A/C system, and insulating the underside of the roof with open cell spray foam. Since the structure is originally built with bargeboard, one wall in the living room has been left exposed for a peek of what’s hidden in the walls. The slate roof was installed 15 years ago, which is meant to last a century.

The home is located in the midst of what Bywater has to offer — within walking distance to lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The bike path that takes you through Crescent Park and to the French Quarter can be accessed near the house. For downtown commuters or French Quarter frequenters, the location couldn’t be better!

See more pictures and information.

Kitchen Renovation — Inspiration and Plans

There are so many things I love about our house. I love the original features, like the hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and original windows and transoms over the door frames. And I love the way that we’ve made it our own. Unfortunately, I did not feel the same way about our kitchen. So, naturally, we decided to rip the whole thing out and start from scratch.

Before:

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Our kitchen, dining, and living areas are all one open room, so I wanted the kitchen to look like it belonged in the same space. The rest of the room feels cozy and collected — I guess what people would call “eclectic”. We have a lot of antique and mid century modern furniture, travel knick-knacks, art on the walls, and colorful Persian rugs. We’ve focused on natural or honest materials like wood, wicker, brick, wool, and linen. My goal was to bring those same vibes to the kitchen. However, that’s so not what kitchens are like, by their very nature! Kitchens are all about uniform cabinets, cold stainless steel appliances, and straight-up functionality. It was a challenge figuring out how to bring warmth and visual interest to a mostly practical space.

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In addition to reflecting our personal taste, there were other considerations too. As a historic preservationist at heart, I wanted to honor the 100-plus lifetime of the house and make choices that seemed period-appropriate. And as a Realtor, I had resale value and increased equity in mind. I’m not sure how long we’ll be in this house, but I don’t want it to look dated or worn out by the time we decide to sell it. Basically, I wanted the kitchen to look timeless and not (too) trendy.

Floors

I seriously considered mosaic tile (Galatoire’s style) or some ornate Victorian pattern— both would add some much-needed old world style to the kitchen. At the end of the day, I decided that would be too stark of a contrast to the hardwood floors in the rest of the room. So I tracked down some salvaged wood that would match the grain and width of the existing floors. In a city like New Orleans, with historic houses and renovations around every corner, salvaged material is big business. I was found a supplier who was just about to pull some heart of pine tounge-and-groove out of a 1910s house in Greensboro, Louisiana. Perfect.

For fun, my rejected flooring ideas [click the picture for the source]:

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Cabinets

Over many years of reading design blogs and living vicariously through other people’s renovations, I’ve seen some amazing Ikea kitchens, often with Semihandmade doors. Ikea cabinets are an affordable option with just as much integrity, quality, and warranty as more expensive alternatives. And considering that a local company, Blue Bag, will deliver and install Ikea kitchens in New Orleans, it was an easy choice to make. The Bodbyn doors, a medium gray with traditional paneling, was the Goldilocks choice. Not too dark or too light (I’ve seen too many white kitchens). Not too rustic or too modern. Although Semihandmade had some great (mostly shaker-style) options, I didn’t love them enough to add another factor to the renovation.

Some examples of gray Bodbyn cabinets in action:

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Open Shelving

Open shelving is one thing where I totally surrendered to a trend. I had my reasons though. Hopefully, displaying kitchenware on shelves will elevate them to objets d’art, which will kind of replicate the way we display other knick knacks around the house. Airy shelves instead of blocky upper cabinets should give the kitchen a similar balance as the rest of the room. Speaking of “airy,” I intend to have totally floating shelves — as if by magic. The key is having thick enough wood that you can bore holes in the middle and hide the brackets.

Some artfully arranged floating shelves:

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Countertops

I was probably the most excited about new countertops. I’ve been dreaming of luscious Carrera marble for forever. Now, marble comes with many, many caveats. And everyone in the world will try to tell you that you’re making the most foolish choice! Yes, I know it’s a soft stone. Yes, I know it can stain and etch. But I want it anyway. A couple of articles helped me feel much more comfortable with my choice (here & here).

In my mind, nothing can compete with the warmth and beauty of marble. I felt that honed (matte) Carrera marble was the absolute right choice for the antique look that I was going for in my kitchen. And I decided that I will welcome the patina it will develop over time. Coincidentally, around the time of making this decision, we visited Charleston and saw Carrera marble bars/counters/tables everywhere. And they looked great despite all the red wine, lemon juice, and who-knows-what that has surely been spilled on them by thousands of people!

I especially like the combination of marble counters and matching backsplash:

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 Backsplash

Yes, I mentioned that marble backsplash already. I also had another grand idea:

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We saw so much beautiful tile on our trip to Morocco and Spain — like works of art! I think this 30″ by 30″ space in the kitchen will be the perfect opportunity to splurge on something beautiful. Moroccan cement tiles are definitely having a moment right now, so I’m going to proceed cautiously there. I have my eye on some hand-painted terracotta tiles at Stafford Tile & Stone. I think the latter will be a more timeless look.

Something like this:

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 Appliances & Fixtures

This aspect of the planning was all about functionality. Ok, maybe a bit about form as well. We chose a matching KitchenAid appliance suite with a somewhat industrial or “professional” look (this was the showroom consultant’s lingo and apparently all the rage right now). Despite this description, I actually think that the style really suits our home, because it kind of evokes an era when appliances were more utilitarian-looking. Anyway, my main concern with the appliances was actually resale value. Buyers like the appliances to match and trust certain brands etc. We also chose a touchless faucet, which I’m actually kind of excited about. It’s something I never thought I needed or wanted, but it was a fun way to embrace some extreme modernity in an otherwise traditional kitchen.

Final touches

The accessories will really allow me to warm up this kitchen and bring in some textures that we have in the rest of the room. I’m thinking…

simple unlacquered brass hardware that will patina over time:

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large wicker pendant light over the island that matches our Marcel Breuer Cesca dining chairs and reed roll-up shades:

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either arched or bare-bulb wall sconces over the shelving:

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and another vintage Persian rug or runner, of course:

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So far, we’ve done the demo and made most of the decisions. Wish me luck that everything goes according to plan!

12 steps to buying a home

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1. Choose a Realtor

A Realtor is your best asset in finding the right property and then making it yours. Your Realtor will educate you about the market, help you evaluate properties, negotiate a winning contract on your behalf, and represent your rights on the way to the closing table. The right Realtor for you is not only competent and reliable, but also someone you like and trust.  Plus, to buyers, the services of a Realtor are 100% free.

2. Get pre-Approved

Talk to a lender to set your price range. Your Realtor can recommend some great local lenders to contact. A lender will help you determine your price range, your monthly mortgage payment, and your out-of-pocket costs for purchasing your home. Once you are pre-approved, you can act quickly when you see “the one.” Plus, a pre-approval letter will make your offer look more attractive to sellers.

3. Search for a House

After discussing what features you are looking for and what neighborhoods suit you, your Realtor will send you property listings that match your criteria. If a house stands out, then your Realtor will set up an appointment and accompany you to see it in person. With a Realtor’s trained eye and expertise by your side, you are well-equipped to choose the right house for you and your needs.

4. Make an Offer

When you find the house you love, make an offer! You and your Realtor will strategize and compose an offer that is favorable to you and likely to be acceptable to the seller. Your Realtor will also research recent comparable sales, so that you can be confident that your sale price is in line with fair market value. Sometimes the seller makes a counter-offer and you may follow that with your own counter-offer. Your Realtor must be a great negotiator so that you get the best deal, considering all market factors and each party’s bargaining position.

5. Pay a Deposit

Immediately after your offer has been accepted, you have to submit a deposit check to the seller. The amount of this check is usually around 1% of the sale price. The deposit will be returned to you if you choose to cancel the contract due to unsatisfactory inspections, low appraisal, or failure of financing. If you choose to proceed with the sale, the deposit will be credited towards your down payment at closing.

6. Schedule Inspections

Inspections of the property will allow you to assess the condition of the property. Your Realtor can recommend reputable inspectors in your area. If there are defects that you were not aware of when you made your offer, then your Realtor will negotiate with the seller to either fix these deficiencies or pay an appropriate amount of money towards your closing costs. If the inspections or any other research into the property reveals that this is not the house for you after all, you will be able to cancel the contract.

7. Order the Appraisal

Your lender will require and order an appraisal to be done. The appraisal will inform the lender of the estimated value of the property to ensure that you are not overpaying. If the appraised value is lower than your sales price, your Realtor will negotiate with the seller to adjust the price. However, if the seller refuses to lower the price, then you may cancel the contract.

8. Obtain Insurance

Your lender will require that you obtain homeowners’ and flood insurance for the property. Your Realtor can recommend some reliable insurance agents. If possible, you should obtain these quotes during your inspection and due diligence period. Plus, getting quotes sooner rather than later will clarify your exact out-of-pocket costs at closing.

9. Hire a Title Attorney

Find a title attorney to verify the title, provide title insurance, and coordinate the closing documents with your lender. Your Realtor can recommend good title attorneys and companies in your area. The title attorney will assure you that there are no issues with or liens on the ownership of the property. If there are, the title attorney will remedy them before closing.

10. Get Final Loan Approval

Although you already submitted some documents during pre-approval, your lender will require you to submit additional documentation to verify your funds and income. Your loan application will then pass through the lender’s underwriter before it is finally approved and you receive your mortgage.

11. Attend the Final Walk-through

A few days before the closing date, you and your Realtor will walk through the house to make sure that it is in better or the same condition as the day that you made your offer. Make sure that the seller has fixed any defects that they promised to fix at the end of your inspection period.

12. Buy Your New House!

Shortly before the closing, the title company will tell you the final amount of funds that you must bring to closing. This amount will include your down payment, insurance premiums, escrows, lender fees, titles work fees, title insurance, and potentially prorated property taxes, rents, or condo dues. Any seller paid costs, including the amount you negotied after inspections, will be taken off your bottom line. The title attorney will have you sign all of the paperwork at the closing. Finally, you get the keys to your new house! Congratulations, homeowner!

2018 resolutions

Obviously, February 1st is when all New Year’s resolutions go into effect. As much I like to think any time is a good time for improving yourself or your life, the end of one year and the beginning of another is inevitably a time for some self-reflection and goal setting. So, in the spirit of starting 2018 off on the right foot, I’m going to share some of my resolutions. Apparently, verbalizing them increases the chances of following through — so check in with me at the end of 2018 to hold me accountable!

Be a real estate resource to a bigger audience.

In true millennial fashion, I like to research everything online before I do it — buy a new toothbrush, travel to a foreign city, go to a restaurant, etc. Reading up on something is an essential part of the process and usually one that enhances the experience in the long run. I know I’m not alone in this. Considering that buying/selling a house is such a big step and one that can be quite complicated, I am sure that many people start their research online. Before I became a Realtor, I was pretty clueless about real estate transactions. And to be honest, I never quite found a satisfying source of information on the internet. Especially not one specific to New Orleans or even Louisiana! Each city has a unique real estate market and each state has different real estate laws. (If I learned nothing else in law school, it’s that Louisiana law is the most different of all.) Because of that, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “finding answers” that just don’t apply to our real estate transactions. Even now when I first meet with clients, I find that there is a lot of misinformation floating around.

Well, I would like to be a source of reliable information for those who want to start their search online. They may not be ready to talk to a Realtor or take any actual steps. In fact, they might be totally terrified and paralyzed by the mystery of it all. My goal is to make the buying/selling process less intimidating and dispel some myths. I have learned so much in my 3.5+ years in real estate and continue to improve my knowledge and understanding of the real estate market, transactions, contracts, strategy, law, etc. I want to pass it on to a bigger audience than just my clients. I want someone to be able to find information online that will make them feel more comfortable, even inspired and empowered, to proceed with actualizing their real estate goals. And not just first-time homebuyers, I also want to help current homeowners looking to trade up or investors who want to build a portfolio of rental properties. To meet this end, I’m going to start writing more blog posts here, including an extensive step-by-step explanation of how buying a home works.

Stay in touch with my past clients.

One of my favorite aspects of being a Realtor is establishing relationships with my clients. Whether we work together for 30 days or over a year, I end up bonding with all of them to some degree. I learn about their lives and what is driving them to buy or sell a home. I often meet their families who come in for second opinions. I counsel them through some tough decisions and, sometimes, some disappointments as well. I celebrate with them when that house they really want is under contract to be theirs. I even have inside jokes with them. Eventually, I help them accomplish a milestone — becoming a home-owner or moving on to another phase of their lives.

But so much happens after that sale is complete! Many of my clients have gotten engaged or married, had babies, adopted pets, changed jobs, or renovated the house after we walk away from that closing table. Most of these events are the very reasons they made the move in the first place. Although I do my best to keep in touch, I sometimes fall out of the loop. Therefore, one of my goals this year is to check in with my past clients to see what they’re up to and how the house is serving them. I want to continue to be a resource for them, since I think my job is far from over after the sale. I can recommend contractors and services to them when they need to perform maintenance or make improvements to their house. I can send them monthly summaries of the real estate action in their neighborhood so that they can monitor the value of their investments. There are so many ways I can contribute if I just stay in contact.

Plus, I miss these people!

Do more and stay energized.

There’s a saying that if you want something to get done, give the task to the busiest person. I find this to be true in my personal experience. The more I have on my plate, the more I get done — not just the things I have to get done, but also random things that I have been procrastinating with. There is some sort of critical mass to busy-ness. That being said, I don’t want to run myself ragged either. I want to occupy my time with activities that energize or inspire me to be even more productive. It might be an interesting class that opens my eyes to how to run or grow my business. It could be getting involved with an organization that’s in line with my interests. It could be tinkering around the house with DIY projects. It also includes dedicating time to my mind and body (meditation, working out, getting fresh air, whatever). Mostly, I want each activity to have a purpose and create positive momentum.

I know this is a vague one. I’m working on it.