Collecting in Real Life
IF HOUSE ADDICTS
can be divided into Architecture People vs. Stuff People, which is to say
Renovators vs. Antiquers, or even more narrowly Decorators vs. Collectors, then I am always in
the former group. I’m stirred more by a porch makeover than by the search for a tabouret “with
original finish.” Experiencing a room as a whole, I’ll likely miss the priceless items in a collection.
Others have remarked on this schism. “Decorators tend to see objects in the context of
a room, while the eyes of a collector always fall on a single object,” wrote memoirist Thatcher
Freund in an essay about the decorator Mario Buatta. “Encountering a tasteless room full of
beautiful objects—no less than encountering the tasteful room full of ordinary things—helps
one appreciate people who care about both,” he says.
That would describe Chuck Mauch, whose beautifully restored, col-
lection-filled, utterly charming bungalow is featured in this issue. First,
Mauch bought a house built with quality. Then he rolled up his sleeves
(and put on gloves, we hope) to strip every inch of painted woodwork.
Then he filled the place with great stuff. The architecture provides the
backdrop and the context for his collections, which are not so much on
display as they are part of everyday life in the bungalow. Vintage lighting
fixtures illuminate rooms in period fashion; colorful dinnerware is ready
for service. An informed collector, Mauch can describe each object, but
the casual visitor just enjoys the scene.
Most collectors are drawn to the stories that objects tell, about their makers or about the
past. We can see that in how Chuck Mauch became passionate about the work of artist Samuel
Hyde Harris, whose commercial art he collects. I’d like to know the story behind another collec-
tion in this issue: the whimsical one on display like a 3D frieze in the feature on p. 54. It’s in a
new house built for downtime.