Photos by Chris Considine
In the opinion of longtime collector Jim Marrin, the same goes for 20th-century Craftsman furnishings: If it looks good, it is good. Marrin, a 22-year resident of the fabled Castle Green apartments, began collecting Stickley originals in the late 1960s. “I consider it the first modern furniture,” says the retired graphic designer and educator.
Although his is one of the more spectacular apartments in the complex, this one has only three rooms: the living room, the bedroom, and a combination kitchen–dining room. The large, circular living room in Marrin’s West Tower apartment is loaded with settles, case pieces, and tables by the likes of Gustav Stickley and L. & J.G. Stickley.
The rectangular Mission table in the dining area is a copy of an original—still in the family’s possession—that Marrin bought years ago for $90. “When I discovered a series of green Grueby tiles in a building that was about to be demolished, I thought they would look perfect spilling over the edge of the table, so I chipped them out.” He had furniture maker Jim Ipekjian build a replica table with the tiles inset into the center, like a runner. Marrin took a similarly interpretive approach with the flat-back mahogany dining chairs: Finding three vintage ones at a swap meet, he then commissioned Warren Hile to make four more.
The vintage yellow Chambers stove in the kitchen is identical to one owned by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. “Erika’s cooking a pot roast in it right now,” says Marrin, referring to his daughter. The two were babysitting his grandkids together. “I found it at some junk store. The tile in the kitchen is yellow, so it sorta goes.” The apartment boasts an evolving art collection that runs from American Impressionists to Modernist California “hard-edge” paintings (his term), like the one that hangs over a chamfer-edged Stickley table with inlaid Grueby tile.