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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wretched Excess

At least that's what my friend Ester Jowett calls the items in her booth at the Heritage Square Antique Mall in Columbus, Ohio. She had the foresight to start collecting mid-century pieces in the 1980s, when everyone else still considered it "old junk," which made it possible for her to buy, literally for pennies, a multitude of things for which collectors now pay top dollar. Eames, Noguchi, Nelson, rare Heywood Wakefield, china collections to swoon over and more...she has it all. I wish I had been so smart.

Her basement was overflowing with amazing furniture and accessories that she wasn't using in her more-than-amazing house, so last July she decided to start selling some of it. Here are a couple of shots of her booth taken last September. It is absolutely brimming with treasures, but she says she wishes she'd remembered to take pictures of all the really good items on display when she first opened. What I'd give to find a cache like this!

Yes, this is what she's getting rid of, so you probably won't be surprised by the beautiful pictures of her home below.

All photos courtesy Ester Jowett.

Booth 152-C at Heritage Square Antique Mall in Columbus, Ohio
More of her "wretched excess"
Ester's living room
Her family room
Her coffee pot collection

One of her bathrooms
Floor of that same bathroom
She hand-cut every single tile in the mosaic border,
which she designed herself, and laid each tile herself, wall and floor.

Ester has an art degree and owns EJowett Studio, a graphic design company. She is absolutely fearless in the use of paint and pattern. I feel like such a coward when I look at how cautiously I play the decorating game, with my all-one-color walls. When I grow up, I want to be just like her!


  1. Forget it. I give up. I'll never have a home that looks like that. Ha ha I am soooo jealous!!!

  2. @1950sarh: Nor will I. Ester has an eye for design that I'll never have, as well as a confidence I lack when it comes to color, so I'm doomed to ho-hum for the rest of my life. :)

  3. I hear ya. I bet you are like me: you have this idea, vision, of what you imagine your house will look like. But try tho you might, it never seems to come together the way you imagined. At least that's how it works for me lol... =/

    As for finding things like those super cool LARGE amoeba wall frames like she has, forget it. I'll have to make my own. Sigh.

  4. Ester's home is an inspiration with a capital I. She has a gorgeous home....but, so do you two above :) I love how she has showcased her coffee pot collection. I travel to Cincinnati every month or so for treasure hunts and just might have to drive a little further north and find her "wretched excess". Dana, if you ever come up for a visit, please let me know. I live about 3 hours from Columbus, OH. Cincinnati's annual Modernism show is in February. Thank you for sharing this awesome post.

  5. @1950sarh: My problem is that I simply don't have the creativity to imagine the color combinations Ester comes up with. It would never occur to me to paint my walls gray and my ceiling tan, but when Ester does it, it's magical. I can translate my visions to real rooms...but when you start with ho-hum visions like I do, the rooms aren't very exciting. :( Oh, and did I mention that she's always working on her house, and I'm basically too lazy to do all the painting and tiling she does? LOL

  6. @Krazy4Mod: I love the coffee pot collection too and wish I had a place for shelving like that in my house. The Cincinnati Modernism show sounds fun. We went to the Denver Modernism show last August and had a good time. I'll ask Ester to visit my blog and give people an idea what she still has, since those pictures were taken several months ago. Recently she told me that most of the large pieces of furniture have been sold, but I don't know what furniture pieces and smalls are left. She has an extensive collection of vintage clothing that she plans to start selling soon. She also recycles her gorgeous designer handbags and fine jewelry (not vintage) through a separate case in the booth, so I'm sure that's a treat.

    I agree that her house is an inspiration. She's given me many wonderful ideas over the years.

  7. Not only does she have a great design sense, but she apparently has (or knows someone that has) DIY experience to pull it off!

  8. Gee, thanks everyone for your positive comments. It's nice to be among kindred spirits.

    Years ago, our house was part of a tour of homes for a fund raiser, and the people who came and had a look were quite puzzled. I'll never forget one of the comments, "Huh? I threw a bunch of junk like this away!"

    The large amoeba wall frames, along with the figure paintings inside them (one of a man and the other a woman, by Bily Snel)were a wedding present back in 1981. All my friends in NYC, where I had lived then, chipped in for they are not only cool, but extra special!

  9. @Barbara: Not only is Ester willing to roll up her sleeves and tackle a huge tiling project, but she's one heck of a painter too. She has a husband who is really handy as well, especially when it comes to woodworking. Plus he has a really cute British accent. :) They're an awesome team.

  10. @ester: Yay! Glad you're feeling better and stopped by my blog. You and Krazy4Mod might want to talk, because I think she'd like to come to your booth.

  11. Dana I spent 6 months trying to decide on a shade of gray for my living room. Then one day I decided, if I really hated it, I could always repaint it! My friend said he loved it (it's quite dark).

    One bedroom was supposed to be soft pink, but it turned out pepto-"dismal" lol... OK, so I haven't repainted it yet, but I will!!

  12. I actually said "Oh My God" out loud when I saw the pictures of Ester's house. I absolutely love it. The shot of her living room is the best and her bathroom is super cute. Her mall space is pretty fantastic - wish I could shop it!

  13. @1950sarh: To show you how totally lazy I am, I haven't painted a single thing since I moved in. My walls are a neutral tan that the previous owner picked out, and it's a great color, so!!!!!!!!!!!1 I've just decorated to suit it. I have a roll of 50s-looking wallpaper I bought a couple of years ago to use on the soffit in my kitchen, and it hasn't been touched yet. I buy furniture like crazy, but the big jobs...not so much. :)

    I really like dark colors, so I'm sure I'd love your living room too!

  14. @Rhan Vintage: I've been saying OMG about Ester's things for years now. It's impossible not to, huh? :)

  15. I just looked up at the comment I left for 1950sarh and saw that my grandson must have "helped" me type it. His little fingers gravitate to my keyboard so often that sometimes I don't even notice. He usually goes straight for the "Off" button, so I guess a row of exclamation marks and a "1" are preferable to being shut down in mid-sentence...LOL

  16. Found it! Gosh, even prettier than I imagined the rest of the house would be. That bathroom! That coffee pot collection! Wow.

  17. @Tanya: Ester actually designed the tile pattern in her bathroom and cut every single piece of tile in the mosaic section by hand using a wet saw and then sanding the edges till it was exactly the shape she wanted...and sanding off her fingertips a few times in the process. She's a amazingly talented woman.