Editor's Letter

A Room of Our Own

Transforming a little-used space into a favorite spot in the house

Photo: Margaret Houston Dominick

From left: A vintage chandelier and chairs along with a Lee Industries couch and a Circa Lighting lamp set the vibe; DiBenedetto in the library [Sweater, shirt, and pants by Billy Reid]; A copper tray from Reed Smythe & Company anchors the bar setup

After more than five years in our current home, my wife, Jenny, and I realized we had ceded much of the space to our children and dogs. While we were trying to decide on the right table for the dining room, it morphed into a playroom—and stayed that way. The kitchen remains a perfect spot to be ambushed by hungry kids or stumble over a Magna-Tiles creation, and a spot on the living room couch comes complete with a dog’s head in your lap. “We really could use a room for us,” Jenny said one night after all the creatures were asleep. 

The only available choice was the guest room, a ten-by-thirteen-foot space that got great light but saw minimal use besides occasional visitors and as a place to store my waders after duck season or stash fishing rods. And while Jenny and I know what we like when it comes to interior design, we don’t always know how to get there.  So we called our friend Suzanne Flohr, of the design company Lennon & Flohr, to help us realize our vision. 

photo: Margaret Houston Dominick
A McCartys Pottery dish holds recent shark tooth finds.

We decided to turn the room into a den/library filled with touchstones of our lives and passions. For starters, that meant plenty of built-in shelves for our favorite books and curios, such as the Underwood Portable Typewriter I bought for five dollars at a garage sale on Long Island after fishing all night for striped bass, or the Rolleiflex camera from the photo shop Jenny’s father once owned. 

One wall screamed for a small gallery setup, so we looked to talented Southerners to fill the space. We put my treasured arrowhead collection—gathered over the course of twenty years of rambling around my brother’s farm in Upstate South Carolina and stored in a shoebox—in the hands of Becca Barnet and Kaleigh Hastings of Sisal Creative. With their trademark dedication to the artifacts and presentation, they created a museum-worthy display. Next came a beautiful mounted wigeon my Labrador retrieved last season. I’d entrusted the duck to Jimmy Hortman of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, who started working part-time on taxidermy when he was fifteen to help pay for his truck’s insurance. That truck is gone, but his skills have grown legendary in the area. We capped the wall off with a modern painting from one of our favorite artists, Raven Roxanne

photo: Margaret Houston Dominick
The gallery wall.

Since we still wanted a space for guests, we made sure the couch was stylish but also had one hell of a comfortable pullout. And we mixed in some vintage chairs to keep the vibe far from stuffy. There’s also a library bar, of course. 

As fate would have it, we finished the library just as the pandemic hit, and it now also serves as my home office. But once the kids are down, Jenny and I still retreat here and pour a bourbon, and early in the mornings we often tiptoe in before the daily routine starts to read a few pages—or talk about someday getting that dining table after all.