Inside Garden House, a funky new venue now open for events and Airbnb rentals

What do you get when you cross a former Beauregard Town grocery store with upcycled furniture, splashes of color and a disco ball? The new Garden House, a funky events venue that launched late last fall at 705 Saint Joseph St. in the space previously occupied by The Parlor.

The project is the brainchild of Nancy Noonan, a native Baton Rougean who moved back to the Capital City in 2022 after spending most of her adult life in the Caribbean and south Florida. Noonan’s enduring love for island culture lurks throughout Garden House’s design in the form of bold hues, flamingo and parrot imagery, and vintage Florida flourishes.

Garden House owner Nancy Noonan

But to describe it as solely tropical would be a mistake.

Noonan, a self-described “junker,” is one of those people who sees infinite possibility in castoffs. She’s a chronic Facebook Marketplace shopper, has a talent for repurposing furniture and is constantly on the hunt for roadside gems. Her vision, and that of contractor Scott McMahan and designer Catherine Boley, led to a style mashup for Garden House that blends European antiques, rescued chandeliers, bird cages, exposed brick and concrete walls, and the occasional new thing—like disco lighting. You’re just as likely to stumble upon a carnival monkey figurine as you are a fancy French settee.

“I guess you’d call it eclectic,” says Noonan, adding that she’s been able to create the look on a limited budget. “It’s been kind of a miracle how it all came together. I’m a collector, and I sort of did it crumb by crumb.”

Noonan’s mission is twofold: Garden House is open for small- to medium-sized events like birthday and graduation parties, rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions, live music, casual meet-ups and even end-of-life celebrations. It’s also a vacation rental. Within the space, Noonan and her design team converted a former office and storage closet into a private guest bedroom and a full bathroom with laundry amenities. They also transformed a makeshift kitchen at the rear of the building into a full kitchen that now services both overnight guests and event caterers. She booked her first Airbnb guests last weekend, she says.

Two outdoor areas allow crowds to spill out onto a gated front patio with shaded seating, as well as a back garden that’s still being spruced up. The venue can accommodate 45 to 60 people and is just over 1,300 square feet inside.

In its past life, the Garden House was a neighborhood store nicknamed Triangle Grocery because of its distinct triangular shape. It’s situated on one of Beauregard Town’s angular blocks—created by its storied L’Enfant-inspired diagonal cross streets. The Triangle Grocery was run by Joseph Culotta. In a recent full circle moment, his adult grandson, Chris Culotta, attended an event at the Garden House with the Downtown East Social Ride, Noonan says. Culotta, also known as DJ Bird, and Noonan connected, and it led to her hiring Culotta to spin tunes for a Studio 54-themed birthday party she recently threw at the venue for herself.

“He’s a great DJ,” Noonan says. “And he installed my disco ball for me.”

When planning to return to Baton Rouge a few years ago, Noonan was shopping for a space to open a vintage store, something she’d done as a side hustle while also selling real estate in south Florida. After spotting the closed Gallery Bohemia on Government Street on one scouting trip, she left a note under the door asking if the owner would be interested in renting it. Owner Dave Remmetter, who also owns Mid City Beer Garden across the block, told her it wasn’t available. But he said he had another building in Beauregard Town that was.

“I looked at it as soon as I could and I said, ‘I want it,’” Noonan says. “The building just kind of found me.”

She rented the property for a year, then bought it and began fixing it up, deciding along the way to make it an events venue. One of her first regular clients has been a ukulele club whose members gather monthly to socialize and play their instruments.

Music, in fact, is another design through line, she says. In one corner sits a baby grand piano, a vintage score Noonan lucked upon from a fellow Baton Rouge picker specializing in pianos. It bears a picture of Noonan’s late sister, Marci, who was an accomplished jazz pianist.

“There have been so many signs along the way that this was meant to be,” Noonan says.

Find the Garden House on Facebook.