The New York Times’ Joyce Wadler recently wrote about one NOLA couple’s post-Katrina recovery. Karina Gentinetta and Andrew James McAlear lost their Lakeview district house in the catastrophic flooding following Hurricane Katrina. On top of this loss, the contractor they hired to help them rebuild stole $100,000 and ruined their finances. But the couple persevered.
Yet Ms. Gentinetta, a onetime lawyer, ebullient as a fountain on hyper-spritz, managed to furnish the entire new house, not counting appliances and electronics, for $12,477. She found the 150-year-old corbels in salvage shops; many of the furnishings, ranging from down-on-their-luck antiques to ’50s kitsch, were bought in consignment shops. Very few of the family’s possessions could be salvaged after Katrina, but some were: a teak desk that weathered the flood, which she bleached and painted a pale gray, now has the look of a Swedish piece; a silver tray Mr. McAlear gave Ms. Gentinetta for their anniversary the year of the flood, now corroded and discolored beyond repair, sits in the entry hall.
What is interesting is how beautiful the metallic objects are. The damage from the flood gave the tray the appearance of history and mystery and age. But tap the frame of the heavy Italianate mirror in Ms. Gentinetta’s bedroom, as she invites a visitor to do, and you will find it is plastic.
“I bought it for like $16 at a dollar store,” Ms. Gentinetta says. “It went through Katrina and it aged. It’s now my million-dollar antique mirror. I call it my Katrina patina.”
For more on this story and to see a slideshow of images from the design project, visit here.