Big Easy Living

After finding her dream loft downtown, Angele Monconduit infused it with a style inspired by her native New Orleans.

Written by Jane Reynolds

Photography by Edward Badham

Angele Monconduit is so New Orleans, her birthday this year is on Fat Tuesday. She grew up in the Big Easy and still returns home whenever she can to ride in the Mardi Gras parades, revel in the camaraderie, and enjoy being part of all the action.

That’s one reason why she fell in love with The Thomas, a mixed-use loft building on 2nd Ave. N. downtown that was purchased and renovated by Nequette Architecture & Design. In fact, Monconduit become its first resident to move in on April 1, 2018. The eccentricities of the building (formerly the W.S. Brown Mercantile Building combined with the old Harold’s Furniture Store), the friendliness of the neighbors, and—most of all—the wide-open view of 2nd Avenue, reminded Monconduit of home. “It feels like I’m living on Magazine Street,” she says. “The brick walls, the wooden floors, the windows…I can crank open every one of those windows and look down on everything happening on the street.

“I just need a gas lantern and a second-line band marching down 2nd Avenue, and this would be perfect.”

After moving to Birmingham, Monconduit lived in a house in Inverness until she got an unsolicited offer from someone wanting to buy her home. She decided to sell, leasing an apartment at the Pizitz until she could find a new home. Around the same time, Nequette began The Thomas project, and Monconduit took notice. “I drove past it every day and was watching the construction,” she says, “and one day I just pulled over and popped in, and they told me they would call me as soon as they opened it up for people to start looking. It was bare bones then; there was nothing in here. But eventually they gave me a tour, we walked through the whole building, and I fell in love with it.”

The ground floor of The Thomas features retail space, including the studio gallery of artist and interior designer William McClure. The second and third floors feature residential lofts, and the fourth floor, which was added as part of the renovation, houses the offices of Nequette Architecture and Design.

At over 2,000 square feet, Monconduit’s is the largest loft in the building, with a spacious master bedroom and luxurious master bath featuring an oversized glass shower, subway tiles, and long double vanity. The bedroom can be closed off with a sliding door inset with frosted glass that gives privacy without blocking the light. Another second “bedroom” is really a pocket off of the main room that could also be used as a small office, but Monconduit has created a guest room with hers for her son, who is serving in the military, to have a space of his own when he’s home.

The rest of the loft—kitchen with island and bar seating; dining area; and expansive living area are wide open, creating an easy flow that calls out for entertaining, and Monconduit takes full advantage. She and her next-door neighbor recently threw an open house with attendance she estimates between 50 to 75 people between the two lofts, replete with a bartender and DJ.

The building’s features include reuse of materials to preserve its original character, such as 80-year-old floor planks taken from the ceiling of the original structure; track-and-rail lighting mixed with modern chandeliers and pendants; and private roof-terrace access for residents. As for her own loft, Monconduit continued the New Orleans feel in many of the details, making many of the design choices herself and also working with her friend and interior designer Natalie Toy.

Monconduit says most of the furniture in the loft consists of pieces she already owned, newly arranged with Toy’s help for a dramatically different space (though, somehow, it all looks as though she selected it for this very spot). Many of the accessories are new, New-Orleans specific, and consist of a striking combination of elegance and fun. The giant palm trees, for instance, add color and life. Toy herself painted two of the vibrant pictures on the wall.

“Our goal was for everything to be centered towards these massive windows,” Mondonduit adds. “We didn’t want to block that view, and we wanted to be able to really see it from every angle in the room. For everything else, Natalie knows I love having people over and having enough space and seating for everyone to be comfortable. And she knows my love for New Orleans, so as long as we were incorporating those two aspects, we were good.”

Monconduit has also enjoyed taking full advantage of the thriving downtown community.

“I’ve got a good group of friends who are downtown, and we meet up for dinner and drinks and know just about everyone. We pop in pretty frequently at El Barrio and Bamboo, and everybody knows us by name. And there’s so much more that’s still opening—there’s a little boutique next to El Barrio which is very cute, and there’s an organic-harvest grocery store that’s supposed to be opening. I can’t wait.

“That’s another thing that was pulling me into this place,” she continues. “It feels like home to me.”


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