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When you walk through a historic city like New Orleans, there’s very obvious beauty in the storied architecture. What was once the home of a long-gone politician may now house a shop or café filled with regulars greeting each other. But there’s also hidden beauty in these spaces, known only by the people who painstakingly refresh and restore them. 

For eyewear brand Krewe, founder Stirling Barrett uncovered the magic in its latest New Orleans flagship, the appropriately named Maison de Krewe. “The building told its story throughout the renovation process,” he says. “As the work progressed, original colors and design details continued to be unveiled.”

And there were many, considering that the property dates back to 1799 and was once the home of 12th U.S. President Zachary Taylor. While the exterior stayed the exact same—“Within New Orleans, and the French Quarter in particular, there are institutions in place to protect the historical integrity of the area,” says Barrett—existing design elements (doors, railings, shutters, and windows) got a refresh. 

The doorway between rooms on the second floor, before.

But the moment that turns a simple shopping stop into an experience happens when you walk up the original spiral staircase, surrounded by mirrored panels, between the first and second floors. “The modern-feeling first floor was intentionally designed to juxtapose the very historic atmosphere of the city,” he says. “I wanted people to feel the shift as they exited the street and stepped into this fresh, modern space.” 

The original fireplace and mirror before renovation.

The shift is certainly palpable, with white walls, marble countertops, and plant-filled nooks. “We sought inspiration from the building’s history and the ornate nature of that time,” Barrett says. Case in point: the original green-washed walls, which fade to white in an adjoining room. To keep it modern, though, Barrett added a curved bouclé sofa, a checkerboard rug, and a black Kartell Pilastro stool. And in classic New Orleans style, visitors can peek out the balconies, both street- and courtyard-facing.

The courtyard, pre-renovation.

While the discovery of the original plaster walls may have been a highlight, there were plenty of obstacles to address in bringing the 200-year-old space up to speed. “The space was in total disrepair when we first found it, but so clearly had amazing bones,” Barrett says. “I was particularly drawn to all the natural light.” And when you visit, you can follow that abundant glow through the first floor—it leads to an open courtyard garden in the back that serves as an idyllic space to take a break from the crowded streets and put your new shades to the test.