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November is Family Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re sharing stories all month about families — whether that’s partners, kids, roommates, parents, pets, or plants — from improving your daily relationships or going home for the holidays. Head over here to see them all!
Name: Josie Azuma, Pierce Azuma, Minor and Marion Azuma (twins), with Satchmo and Morris Bark Azuma (dogs).
Location: Uptown — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned
When Josie and Pierce found this house in 2015, it was in rough shape and was a small two-bedroom, one-bathroom home. “I could tell the natural light was amazing, even through the heavy drapes lining all the windows,” Josie explains. “Also, we loved that it was a corner lot with one of the biggest yards we had seen in our budget, which was great for our two dogs (and even better when we later had kids)! As soon as we got the keys I took down the drapes and could see the potential even more. After we had twins, we renovated it into a three-bedroom, two and a half bath with an attic office space. What I still love about the house is the natural light streaming in all the old windows, and the old original doors, moulding, and hardware. What I love after renovating is that it’s a really functional space for our family, although it’s still not huge. Every bit of space is useful and the storage is thoughtful.”
Josie is an artist, and works from a beautiful art studio in the home’s downstairs (which pre-renovation was their bedroom). “It’s full of natural light with French doors that open into the hallway,” Josie describes. “Downstairs is where we do all our living — the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all connected, although not fully open concept, and that is where we are always cooking and cleaning up while the kids are doing art projects or playing board games on the dining room table or the kitchen island. Our dogs are always close by looking for food that the twins drop on the floor, with Satchmo doing his lookout while perched on top of the sofa in front of the bay window. Our house is bright even on the dreariest days, and you get that sense of bringing the outdoors in with all the light and plants (that I struggle to keep alive).”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Mid-century Scandinavian New Orleans eclectic.
Inspiration: Nature and a feeling of lightness + comfort.
Favorite Element: The wall of my kitchen with the old window and maple open shelving. Before the renovation there was the window but a weird half wall sticking out and a washer dryer, I could always visualize how it would look when I could take that wall down.
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was definitely the size of our house before our renovation. We had four of us (two adults plus two toddlers) and two dogs living in about 900 square feet. We overcame it by being really organized, constantly cleaning out and donating kids toys/clothes, and not acquiring anything new without getting rid of something. Also, using tons of dressers and cabinets for storage. Space in general, and storage space in particular, is a bit easier after the renovation, but it’s always a challenge with kids not to acquire more than you have room for. With two 4-year-olds, toys, papers, markers, and stickers are everywhere all the time, but I just make sure everything they have has its own place to go when it’s time to clean up — if not it’s time to clean out and donate things again.
Proudest DIY: Although not the hardest DIY I’ve ever done, I’m very proud of a veneer repair job I did to a mid-century dresser I found on Craigslist in 2013 that’s currently in our dining room. I was very intimidated to repair wood veneer, but it turned out not to be all that hard and the improvement was immense.
Biggest Indulgence: Most of our furniture is vintage or thrifted or bought on sale. After searching for over year for the perfect mirror for our dining room, I gave in and bought one from Rejuvenation. It’s way more than I would usually spend on a mirror but I think it was worth it, since it’s kind of a statement piece that you see from the kitchen, living room, and dining room.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Not really. The twins have an open closet that I’m working on making pretty since it’s basically a wall of open kid storage. We removed the old doors because they were on a track that kept breaking and there is so much more usable space in the room without the doors.
What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Online shop in the room you want the piece to go in. If I’m looking for something for a particular room, I will sit in that room looking at where the piece of furniture or whatever will go, and scroll through my options on my phone. It’s an easy way to visualize out of all your options what will really work best in the space.
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.