Sherry Shirah and her partner Trey Williams had built their careers in software technology companies between Boston and Dallas for 15 years when she finally decided to make a 180-degree change and pursue her dream as an interior designer (she now has her own business Sherry Shirah Designs). As a New Orleans native, of four generations, the first place that she wanted to set down roots and sink her teeth into design was her hometown. Residing primarily in Dallas, TX she and her partner found a beautiful historic home in New Orleans that would serve as an Airbnb-style property for her family, friends, and others to enjoy when visiting from around the world.
“The home is approximately 1600 sq ft,” Sherry explained, “it’s called a ‘shotgun home’ because back in the early 1900’s one could shoot a shotgun through the front door and it would shoot straight through to the end of the house – crazy, I know!” The space wasn’t in such a terrible condition and contained many original elements that brought it charm – from the original hardwood floors that flowed throughout the space, to the transom windows above the interior doors, to the three fireplaces located in various rooms of the home. “I was really cautious about not losing the integrity and spirit of walking into a house that is more than a hundred years old,” she said, “but at the same, I really wanted it to feel somewhat contemporary, fresh and warm like you wanted to grab a cup of tea or a glass wine, turn on some jazz and get lost in a book in any of the rooms.”
The first move she made was to take out all of the wallpaper so that the walls were kept neutral, letting the natural light create an airiness about the space. She took out the ceiling light fixtures and replaced one of them with a Noguchi Akari light sculpture that complimented the otherwise quite traditional decor. The upholstery also played a big roll in the design of the home: she reupholstered a vintage wingback chair that she found tossed away in her backyard shed that she had redone with a tribal patterned-fabric. The choice of velvet for the sofa and club chairs in the living room was a nod to New Orlean’s opulence. As for some of the more antique pieces, she took about a year heading to estate sales to find just the right pieces to make the home feel intentional and “curated”.
“I wanted everyone that walked up the front porch and through the front door to feel like they stepped back in time to a place where they could feel magic in the air,” Sherry shared. “When you turn that ornate brass doorknob, you are overwhelmed with a sense of belonging as if you are in an old home in the South or transported to London or Paris but no matter what you felt the warmth.”