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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Zangara

New Construction, Uptown Convenience Suits Pelicans GM and Family


It took a couple of years of living in New Orleans before Anita Demps knew exactly what she wanted. But once she did, there was no stopping her.

“We moved here in 2010 from San Antonio and picked a lovely home in English Turn. But the more time we were here, the more everything I did was Uptown, and I really wanted to move,” she said. “The next hurdle was to convince Dell.”

As the busy general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, Dell Demps had had little time to visit the Uptown haunts that so enamored his wife, nor did he have much interest in house hunting. Besides, those old houses might look charming, he told his wife, but aren’t they a lot of work? He didn’t need the headaches. Anita Demps had the solution: A glorious centerhall house, resplendent in architectural details but brand spanking new and designed by Daniel Zangara and Victoria Zangara of zangara + partners, an architecture firm based in New Orleans. “Daniel had started building the house for him and his wife to live in, but he got so many inquiries about it that he starting thinking about selling it,” Anita Demps said. “I saw it when it was still in the bare stud phase, but even then I knew it would be exactly what we needed. We made a deal with Daniel, and so I worked with him on all of the finish selections. By the time we moved in a month or so ago, I knew exactly where everything would go.”

The house occupies a corner lot on Valence Street and has room for off-street parking in the rear. Painted a lustrous cream color, it features perfectly proportioned box columns, a turned wood balustrade, floor-to-ceiling windows and a finely detailed entry with sidelights and a transom. A dormer pierces the side-gabled roof in front, introducing light into an upstairs room. A side porch in the rear overlooks a brick patio and a soon-to-be completed fountain. Inside, the wide central hallway separates the rooms on the left side (Anita Demps’ office and the dining room) from those on the right (Dell Demps’ office and the living room). Pocket doors make it possible to close off Anita Demps’ office — furnished like a second living room — from the dining room. The kitchen wing connects to the dining room via a pantry and bar, and extends the length of the side porch. French doors in the kitchen open onto the porch and patio. Just past the living room on the right side of the house, a stair leads to the second floor where the master suite is situated, along with a bedroom and game room for the couple’s youngest son, Riley (their two older sons live out of town).

“The house is about 3,500 square feet, so we had to downsize from our home in English Turn. Most of the furniture came from that house, but I worked with Penny Francis of Eclectic Home on Oak Street and added to it,” Anita Demps said. “We have worked together enough that she knows what I like.” Demps and Francis chose a warm but subtle interior color palette, featuring shades of taupe, gray, white and brown, occasionally contrasted with black. Bronze, silver, and a shimmery tone of gold serve as accents, whether used in upholstery, window treatments, glass tiles, or accessories. To soften the look, comfortable shaggy rugs in mottled browns and beiges stretch out underfoot on the antique heart pine floors. A gas fireplace serves as the focal point of the living room. Its flames rise from the hearth through what resembles a low mound of broken glass shards, creating a magical scene.

“I think this might be Riley’s favorite thing inside the house,” said Anita Demps. “He comes home from school every day and turns it on. It’s the first thing he does.”

Riley Demps also favors the extra-wide, deep porch swing on the side gallery, where he likes to nestle into the cushions and pillows to do homework. “He tells me he wants to sleep out there in the spring,” Anita Demps said. The eighth-grader also likes to cook, his mother said, and now has the perfect kitchen for pursuing his interest. White Shaker-style cabinets stretch to ceiling, the topmost accessed by a library-like ladder that slides on a rail. Industrial steel pendants provide light on the island, which has a white quartz tops and is lined on one side with low-backed white and chrome counter-height stools.

A mosaic of tiny glass tiles serves as the backsplash, which extends the full height of the space between the counter tops and the bottom of the cabinets, even behind the range hood.

Now fully settled into the new home, Anita Demps said that her lifestyle has changed little since the move in October. “I spent every day Uptown already: working out, having lunch, window shopping on Magazine, picking Riley up from school. I do drive a lot less,” she said. But the move has changed Riley Demps’ habits and his father’s. Riley rides his bike to school on pleasant days, and Dell Demps has a semi-motorized bicycle that he likes to take to the New Orleans Arena when he needs to be there on Pelicans business.

“Dell is completely happy with the move,” Anita Demps said. “He says his only wish is that we had done it sooner.”




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