John Phifer Marrs explains the art of collecting in his new book Coffee Table

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John Phifer Marrs knows a little about the power of curation—you could even say he wrote the book on it. The new coffee table book from beloved Dallas interior designer, Interiors for collectors, explores all the lessons he has learned when it comes to amassing, organizing and modifying treasures of books, money, china, etc. “When I started looking at the volume of my work over the years, I discovered that there was a common thread: I am drawn to people who are collectors, ”says Marrs.

Whether you’re showcasing museum-quality artifacts or factory-made blue and white, Marrs shares that the importance of lighting, backgrounds, and layout cannot be overstated. It also emphasizes a lesson particularly hard to hear for die-hard collectors. “It’s even difficult for me to follow my own advice when it comes to editing,” he says. “But sometimes you have to let things go. Instead of three mediocre things, it’s really better to have one big room.

Here are three demonstrations of Marrs’ expertise:

Dan Piassick

Requirement : Equip a library with a friendly space for historical books and manuscripts.

The solution: “This library was a dream project that happens to be one of the most important of my career,” says Marrs. His client wanted a suitable bookcase for his large volume collection, so he added a wing to his house and asked Marrs to figure out how to properly organize the high volume of volumes, as well as a cache of works of art from historical importance. “My role was to understand cabinets and enclosures and how to display, protect and illuminate everything in them,” says Marrs. “It’s a private house, not an institution, so I also wanted to make sure that there was a lot of of warmth in this space filled with so many marvels, priceless things.

Michael hunter

Requirement : Create a virgin place for an army of mud men.

The solution: When Marrs moved into a skyscraper a few years ago, he decided it was time to cut down on his massive collection of Mud Men, who are brightly colored Chinese figurines known for their hands and unheard faces. painted. “I probably had about 50 or 60 of them. A lady in the armed forces gave my parents a small statue and I ended up taking her to college. Later, I started to collect them seriously, ”he says. Once he moved to his luxury apartment in the sky, he limited himself to the 6-8 inch tall figures, which were just the right size to fit in various compartments of the sky. an antique secretary. He added selections from his range of Chinese porcelain on the top to finish the sticker.

Michael hunter

Requirement : Do a prolific silver collector a favor.

The solution: Marrs was approached by a customer who needed help figuring out what was right for the shelves of her ever-growing stock of Victorian silver. “She has a lot of them, so not everything can do,” says Marrs. The client and designer agreed that an antique pine corner cabinet would be the appropriate vessel for highlighting ships, and Marrs went to work rotating in different shapes and sizes for a wide variety. “I will also ask my clients to tell me their favorite pieces or tell me which ones have the best provenance, because I may not really know them,” he says. “But that’s what makes it fun. I’m learning all the time!

Collections delightfully presented by four other designers:

Requirement : Produce a superb showcase worthy of highpower sports cars.

The professional: Amy Guess of BGI Design, LLC

Courtesy of Amy Guess

The solution: Designing well-appointed garages isn’t exactly a daily occurrence for interior designer Amy Guess, but when a client from Fairview came to the table with a fleet of scorching Ferraris and a Lamborghin or two, she put on the spotlight. pedal to metal and created a 1350 square foot parking lot that is both beautiful and hardworking. Guess says masculinity was key from the start. The owner requested a space with a strong industrial feel and a bit of a polished edge, but he wanted the vehicles to be the element that adds all the va-va-voom. The designer more than delivered. “Cars have influenced almost everything in space,” Guess explains. “The color scheme is neutral, so these red cars really are the only bold color in the space. The floor is shiny and polished to better reflect the paintwork, and the lighting has been installed to shine on the cars, including adjustable track lighting for when it is. moves cars.

Requirement : Create an exhibit where nostalgic records and classical guitars could really sing.

The professional: Mary Anne Smiley from Mary Anne Smiley Interiors

Courtesy of Mary Anne Smiley

The solution: As Mary Anne Smiley began working with a couple on their brand new home in Flower Mound, the husband mentioned that he had old school vinyl records – Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, etc. in his music room. “My first question was, ‘How much are we talking about here?’ ”Smiley laughs. It turns out that was a lot. So Smiley tasked her with picking out her favorites as she turned to CAD to set up a wall suitable for rows and rows of classic 12.375-inch record covers. “We had to really design all the spacing between the two,” she says. “I wanted the cabins set back enough that we could have tiny rows of LED light strips above each one. Everything was quite technical. And because it’s a room where music is also meant to be made, Smiley has designed a special place for the owner’s guitars in user-friendly lined lockers. with textured stainless steel.

Requirement : Carve out a victory space for an elder Texas Rangers memories.

The professional: Allison Seidler of Allison Seidler Interiors

Courtesy of Allison Seidler

The solution: What do you do when you are working with a very modest former professional baseball player with a very generous amount of memorabilia packed in the garage? If you’re designer Allison Seidler, you convince him and his wife that his bats, hats, shoes, and awards are worth showing around the house. It took a bit of arm twisting, but once Seidler got her up on deck, she worked with Paul Buckner and Livingwerks Group to make handcrafted cabinets fitted with custom lighting. The one-of-a-kind housing shines a light on all of that glorious equipment, but also complements the modern decor of the Preston Hollow home. And because Seidler was going to do a home run, she made room for a host of other sporting goods as well. “We signed top athlete jerseys and footballs on another wall,” she says. “We also embedded all of the golf balls he saved from every course he played on a workbench in space.”

Requirement : Find a unique place to showcase a slew of ancient spurs.

The professional: Ashley cathey Avrea and company interiors

Courtesy of Ashley Cathey

The solution: When Ashley Cathey’s godfather asked her to decorate his house, she was happy to help. For the most part, it was easy to put together his prolific collection of Western art, but figuring out how to exploit all the spurs he had collected over the past three decades was more complicated. “There are hundreds of them, and they weren’t displayed in any meaningful way,” Cathey says. “I wanted to give him a fun concept. So she enlisted the help of renowned cabinet maker Lewis Roberts and together they designed a rustic cabinet with a custom iron base, Ultrasuede interior and spectacular lighting. . While figuring out how to tastefully hang spurs may seem straightforward to most city dwellers, Cathey says it was nothing of the sort. “There was definitely a learning curve,” she says. “But it was important to showcase the best of the collection in a case sophisticated enough for a beautiful home in Greenway Parks.”


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