Apartment living is the key to happiness for Matilde Alberny and Gustavo Duque. These New Orleans artists never imagined they would end up renting their beloved home in the Lower Garden District to move into their 710 square foot investment property. But after short-term tenants opened the Colombian couple's eyes to the joys of living in their small Warehouse District apartment, they decided to make the move. After three months of renting Matilde & Gustavo’s Warehouse District apartment, the tenants, who were in the final stages of building their dream home, had fallen in love with the freedom and simplicity of small-footprint living. Once their house was completed, they made the radical decision to sell it and buy an apartment instead. Inspired by their tenants unexpected about-face, Matilde and Gustavo chose to give small-footprint living a try themselves.
They walked away from all of the excess in their life and started anew with only the things they really love: their favorite pieces of furniture and their art collection. The result is a simple space that feels right at home in the city’s Arts District. The thriving neighborhood of converted warehouses, situated just a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi River and French Quarter, is filled with restaurants, shops and art galleries on nearly every block.
The paintings and sculptures that fill Matilde and Gustavo’s apartment tell the story of this devoted couple’s life together. Gustavo’s painting, “Mi Colombia,” the focal point of the living room, is where it all began. Matilde fell in love with the graffiti-style painting when she saw it on exhibit and was determined to meet the artist. A mutual friend arranged a meeting and Gustavo paid her a visit in hopes of selling her the painting. What started as a potential business relationship turned into a romance. Seventeen years later, they still wear the loving glow of newlyweds. The artwork they’ve made for each other throughout the years fills their home with memories of their journey.
While their previous home was a quiet urban oasis, their new place is surrounded by the bustling energy of the city. It’s not unusual now for the couple to get a surprise call from friends and, minutes later, be dining together over a glass of wine just steps away from their front door. “Our life was completely different before we moved here,” says Gustavo
Living in an apartment allows them the freedom to pick up and go when they want to travel. The low-maintenance space also gives them more time for entertaining friends with Matilde’s wonderful cooking. “Life is so easy!” Gustavo exclaims with a giant smile and a twinkle in his eye. “We find more time for us. We enjoy more of life.”
Downsizing seems to have been all gain and no loss for Matilde and Gustavo. Everything they need fits comfortably in 710 square feet. Sitting on the couch beside Gustavo, Matilde looks up at “Mi Colombia,” and says “When we put this painting here, we said, ‘Now we are home.’”
You can see the full tour and read more about Matilde and Gustavo's art collection and style on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque