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A modernist showroom in the mountains
By Julie Fustanio Kling ∙ Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy
Last year, Glenda Lawrence spotted two Harry Bertoia wire side chairs. She was driving around downtown Jackson, and the two chairs sat neglected outside a trailer. She knocked on the trailer’s door and, when someone answered, offered to buy them. She reupholstered them, and today they are in her house.
Lawrence has an eye and a penchant for sleuthing that have uncovered more than the Bertoia chairs. The petite, forty-year-old interior designer, who began her business by reupholstering furniture from her home, has put her design degree from the University of Tennessee to work by bringing a modernist flair to this cowboy town. Lawrence eventually realized she could turn her passion for modern pieces into a business. Also, she and her husband, architect Jeff Lawrence, were running out of space for her great finds in their own home.
In 2013, Lawrence opened the boutique design studio and showroom Matterhouse. Before that she worked with only a few clients. Now she barely keeps up. In Lawrence’s workshop behind the showroom, a handwritten sign above a sewing machine reads “You will lose some sleep.”
Last year Matterhouse expanded, nearly doubling in size to 1,600 square feet. It is tucked behind Atelier Ortega on Scott Lane in West Jackson.
Her charrettes, or intense periods of design, feed Lawrence’s passion for working with her hands and creating beautiful things that last. “If you invest in great design, you can keep it for the duration,” she says. When I visit Matterhouse early last winter, I sit on a $4,000 couch, the most expensive item in the showroom. Lawrence found it at an estate sale and is not sure she wants to sell it because it is so comfortable and well cared for. “It would be difficult to replace,” she says. “But of course I will sell it if someone is willing to pay the price.” I admire a Richard Schultz Petal table and ask about an in-great-shape Eames shell chair with a price tag of $300. The chair is priced so reasonably because it’s not a real Eames, but a reproduction. Aside from some artwork and decorative throw pillows, the space is well organized, contemporary, and classically black and white, plus a purple wall.
There is often a story behind every item in the boutique. There’s a set of mining boxes Lawrence found at a thrift store in Meeteetse, Wyoming, while on a road trip. Lawrence bought a pair of Penguin chairs by Ib Kofod-Larsen in an online auction and redid them herself.
“They were covered in Jackson Pollock-style paint all over the wood with terrible fake cowhide seats,” Lawrence says. “As much as I like Jackson Pollock, the wood was restored, as well as new upholstery in the seats.”
John Martin, who moved here from Los Angeles a year ago and is remodeling a home in East Jackson, was floored when he stumbled across Matterhouse. “It is a rarity, especially in Jackson,” he says. “It’s hard to find mid-century furniture, especially when it’s quality and one of a kind.” Martin has done most of his home shopping at Restoration Hardware and IKEA, but has an eye on a few modernist pieces from Matterhouse that would complete his project.
Lawrence loves to work with clients to create spaces with a mix of texture, color, and well-designed, quality items. “What we love is to be able to find something and update it with new fabric,” Lawrence says. “Or to pick a palette for a house.” She uses color sparingly—a splash of eggplant here and clementine there. Ultimately, Lawrence is “of the opinion that all walls should be white.” Most of the furniture in her collection and in her home is wood, leather, or upholstered in neutral-colored fabrics. “My favorite fabrics include wool, cotton, linen—anything natural. Man-made polyester has its place for sure, but who wants to live on plastic? Save those for commercial spaces, and choose the natural fibers for your home, if possible.” Open Monday-Friday from 12-5 p.m.; 150 Scott Lane; 307/699-7947; matterhouse.com