Rustic Meets Modern in a Collector’s Home
Given the come-and-go nature of buying and selling antiques as dealers, we do not typically have the range of rustic furniture in stock at any one time to furnish every room of a house, or even to showcase one idyllic room setting. Therefore, it is a pleasure to present these photos from the home of a couple that has been collecting hickory furniture and rustic accessories for about 25 years. Over several decades they have honed their focus and continued to upgrade, thereby creating a curated treasury of pieces that manifest their personal tastes.
Two things set their home apart from many of the settings in which we’ve seen rustic collections. The first is that their collection resides in the home they live in every day, rather than in a vacation home. Secondly, they live in a mid-century house with white walls, rather than in a log or wood-paneled rustic home.
They are equally passionate about furniture, primarily antique Indiana hickory and Arts & Crafts genres, and accessories. Their accessories include art pottery made during the first decades of the 20th century by Ohio artisan Charles Walter Clewell, “weird wood” (a type of woodcraft created in many forms as rustic souvenirs in the early 20th century, in which the bark is left partially intact on the finished pieces), and animal carvings.
This photo of their den shows examples of each of their collecting interests. The shelves flanking the fireplace contain an amazing collection of Clewell pottery. The hearth, coffee table and plinths hold pieces of weird wood. There are also a few animal carvings on the coffee table, and the two rustic floor lamps are carved to resemble tree trunks. Finally, there is a fine pair of Old Hickory barrel arm chairs with woven aprons. Their grey cat finds the chair on the right to be especially comfortable.
Another view of the same room provides a better look at one of the Old Hickory chairs, and shows a hickory center table, a pair of weird wood tankards, and a table lamp with a carved bear.
This vignette displays elements from two of their collections – a rare form of Indiana hickory wall shelf and an Old Hickory dresser each holds pieces of Clewell pottery.
In an adjacent study, the collection themes continue – Clewell + weird wood + animal carvings + Old Hickory. Every piece is selected with a connoisseur’s eye. Some of the weird wood, such as the plaque in the middle left edge of the photo, features applied pot metal animals including deer, elk and moose. The Old Hickory chair whose back is shown in the lower right foreground is an uncommon 1940s modern design with its original nylon tape weaving. Juxtaposed with the rustic collections are a Frank O. Gehry cardboard “wiggle” chair and the original poster from a Marcel Duchamp exhibit featuring his Fountain piece, as photographed by Alfred Stieglitz.
Here is another corner of the study, where a hickory floor lamp stands near an oak filing cabinet that displays a carved moose lamp, as well as art pottery and weird wood. Much of the weird wood in the collection features colorful Native American decals, as can be glimpsed on one of these pieces.
These (non-ambulatory!) bears play well with a tall piece of Clewell pottery in a hallway.
The master bedroom is furnished with an excellent 4-drawer Old Hickory dresser with an attached mirror, and an uncommon hickory bedside table. Pottery appears here, too, as do animal carvings as seen in the reflection of the wall sconce in the mirror.
The collectors’ dedication to acquiring and living with outstanding pieces of hickory furniture compelled them to remove one of the closets in their bedroom to fit in this rare armoire made by Rustic Hickory Furniture Company. Although it does not hold as many clothes as a full closet, it does double-duty as a TV stand.
The artful blending of furniture and accessories continues in the great room. Here there is an Old Hickory shin-toaster chair; a spindled, rattan wrapped and cushioned Old Hickory sofa; and an early Old Hickory Chair Company floor lamp with its original woven hickory bark shade.
A closer view of one corner shows how an Arts & Crafts sideboard and an oil painting of conifers blend well with the rustic aesthetic, and also provides a look at one of the most prized pieces of hickory in their collection – an Indiana hickory tall clock. A glimpse into the room beyond shows the side of an Old Hickory hutch alongside a Roycroft Ali Baba bench.
This photographic house tour, while not exhaustive, provides plenty of inspiration for those of us who deal in or decorate with rustic antiques and complementary art forms. Selecting antiques for our homes is a process that blends knowledge with aesthetics. Assembling, displaying and living with rustic antiques are expressions and reminders of our creative spirit, which in this home is bountiful.