2008, Budget Blinds was asked to be the blinds and window coverings provider for a THIS OLD HOUSE® project in New Orleans. We love working with the folks at THIS OLD HOUSE, so it wasn’t a hard decision. The whole production team is a great group of folks, and “The Guys” – Tom Silva, Norm Abrams, Richard Tretheway, Kevin O’Connor and Roger Cook – are the real deal! They work on the set and are treasure troves of information about the home. They’re also really good guys, too! (Tom Silva will be thrilled to learn I finally mastered using a power drill!)
We are going to show you what the end result of all the hard work looks like, but it’s important to understand where the project started to truly appreciate it.
What made this project special was it was in an area that was affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Driving to the location was humbling. The houses stood, but they had been gutted by flood waters. You could still see the lines marking how high the water had been and markings made by rescuers on the houses – door-sized, spray-painted orange X’s with markings in each quadrant indicating when the house was inspected, which agency inspected the house, whether or not the inspector made it into the house or performed an exterior search and a number. The number indicated a person who didn’t survive the hurricane or flood. Thankfully, I saw more zeroes than ones or twos. Seeing a “1” or “2” in the bottom quadrant was sobering.
The neighborhood was almost empty, save for a few residents. I’m sure we were their entertainment for a few weeks. They were kind and gregarious, waving to us from their porches and pointing down the street to direct us to our location.
Frankly, the activity around the house had to appear circus-like: People coming and going. Trucks, vans and cars navigating streets that had once been two stories underwater. I heard that the Little Pink Houses project that Brad Pitt was associated with was near our location. So there was a lot of activity, and we were in the middle of it to install blinds, curtains and shades.
The homeowner is a gracious woman named Rashida Ferdinand. She’s an artist, and her work is amazing! If you get a chance to see her work, please do so! One of the pieces of art she created for the home was inspired by a letter written by one of her relatives who took shelter on the roof of a house during a flood in the 1960’s. You can see the piece in the background of the first photo.
Giving Credit Where It’s Due:
The photographs were taken by New Orleans photographer Samantha Scheel. She runs Sweet Light Studio. She mostly photographs children and infants, but after you see her work on these room shots, we think you’ll agree she’s very talented. Talking with Samantha gave me an appreciation for what happened, beyond what we saw on television or read about online.
Our fabulous franchisees, Jimmy and Kelly Corkern were instrumental in this project. The folks who usually work with us on national projects were unable to assist on this shoot, so we called Jimmy and Kelly. It seemed appropriate considering that Hurricane Katrina disrupted their grand opening – to put it mildly! Kelly did great work on the draperies and curtains. You’ll see her work and attention to detail in the photos.
THIS OLD HOUSE® Thanks for inviting us along on this project. The work you do is nothing short of amazing!
If you want to see the before photos, please visit: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20165348,00.html
If you want to see the after photos, please visit: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20201164,00.html