Closet for the Southold House 2011
We had no coat closet in our city apartment so I thought we could live without one in the Southold House. That first winter when guests arrived for a dinner party we asked them to walk upstairs and deposit coats and umbrellas in our bedroom. This was an awkward choreographic introduction to our new home. Snowstorms were especially problematic and we occasionally postponed a diner party if snow were forecast.
The foyer is an overture to a house, setting up and foreshadowing a sequence of events and episodes. This small space introduces the visitor to the look and feel of the house. I had designed no place for a coat closet in our foyer.
Downtown Southold had a small elegant clothing store that declared bankruptcy that winter. The mahogany interior was being auctioned and I decided to make a bid for the cabinetry. I valued mahogany boards and envisioned making new furniture for the house by resurfacing the wood with my new 220-volt surface planer. There was very little bidding activity for the store and I made the winning offer. To my surprise I had bought not just the mahogany cabinets but also the clothing, shoes, stationary, files, boxes, books, hangers, carpets and an empty cash register.
I hired two men and a truck to disassemble the store and deliver the parts to my studio. When I returned from the city that evening I was surprised to see the entire clothing store reassembled inside the studio.
The following week friends came for dinner. Instead of pointing them up to our bedroom to deposit their coats, guests make a short pilgrimage along a path in the woods to the studio to hang their coats in the clothing store.