OFF DUTY: CATHERINE M. AUSTIN INTERIOR DESIGN IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
We were delighted to see the latest edition of Off Duty in The Wall Street Journal this weekend leading the article with one of our favorite vignettes. We had been asked to contribute our best and worst personal design purchases to the column, “Not Every Acquisition is Exquisite.” The online tagline read “Design professionals reveal the smartest décor purchases they’ve ever made (midcentury finds on Craigslist), and the most regrettable (a stinky ottoman). What you can learn from their admissions.” The best purchases are always fond to remember but the bad ones are impossible to forget . Even interior designers can make mistakes that haunt us daily which makes for hilarious weekend reading! My full answers are below…
I discovered a large scale multi-colored abstract painting by an unknown artist at a local showroom that I bought for the Traditional Home High Point Showhouse for several thousand dollars. It was love at first sight and knew I would never sell it. When I brought it home, I realized it was on its original stretcher and found a label on the back with the artist and NYC gallery that had a reputation for showing cutting edge contemporary art in the 70s and 80s. It now hangs in my master bedroom and greets me every morning.
In my twenties, I made a desperate attempt to acquire more closet space in my NYC apartment. The 12 inch closet did not suffice! I purchased a huge pine armoire from the depths of ABC carpet and home’s clearance basement for a few hundred dollars. The crudely carved behemoth with a nasty orangey-toned stain was the opposite of the priceless antiques I was cataloguing during my day job at Sotheby’s. To make matters worse, the interior ended up being so narrow that a hangar could not even hang straight so all my clothes were crammed in on the diagonal (and constantly wrinkled). It now resides in a corner of a spare bedroom holding cast off clothing. I have spent a fortune moving it from home to home. I still cannot bear to part with it because it reminds me of living paycheck to paycheck as a young New Yorker beginning my creative career.
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